Torrenting has been a popular way to get access to downloading the latest TV series, movies, books, music and games. This method became very popular because it is for free and all it requires is a computer and an internet connection. With that said, the question now would be is torrenting illegal? Is it safe? Could you get caught?
What is Torrenting?
Whenever you download a movie to your device, all you have to do is click on the download link and it automatically connects to the server and then the download starts. In other words, you are downloading a file from a single server. Torrenting on the other hand, breaks up one huge file and separates it into many different smaller files. It has software applications like uTorrent and BitTorrent which connects a huge number of other computers. This method is based on a peer to peer file sharing or more commonly known as P2P. This means, through P2P, you will be able to download pieces of files from every computer.
Before P2P torrent networks were designed and created, files were kept on a single server. This means, websites that host these copyrighted files could be traced easily which government institutions usually shut down.
P2P, however, due to its decentralized method type of storage makes it more difficult for government institutions to track it and shut it down.
How Do Torrents Work?
As mentioned earlier, Torrenting works by the consistent sharing of small files. This sharing of small files is call as packets which are divided into two parts- Leeching and Seeding.
Leeching means you download the file but this term connotes in a negative way wherein when people stops uploading a file after they are done with the download. This process of type of leeching does not help other lechers.
Take note that most torrent software does not allow its users to disable upload limit. This means, sharing is caring. In other words, if you download a file, it is just courteous to give back to the network as well.
Seeding on the other hand is when you simultaneously download and upload packets. This means the file from the initial file is moved into smaller packets to other computers through the process of P2P. Seeders would store pieces of the file and then will share it through P2P. This also means, that the file you are downloading does not come from one location only but rather from different number of seeders who shares back and who are hosting the files.
So, now, that we know a few terminologies, the next step is to know the process of how torrenting works. As previously mentioned, whenever you download, you download small packets from different seeders. Once you are able to download packets, the software will then share the packets to other people who would like to download the movie.
Is Torrenting Safe?
This question has been asked numerous times and the answer is simple. The process of torrenting is actually safe. However, before you download a torrent, ensure that the torrent does not have any malicious malware. So, how would you know? We suggest that you read comments and reviews from other downloaders. Also, you could check if the torrent site is a trusted source through a sign that most torrent uploaders usually indicate.
Is Torrenting illegal?
Contrary to popular belief, torrenting is actually not illegal but take note that the act of downloading and sharing copyrighted materials is illegal. This means, torrenting non-copyrighted materials is okay and allowed.
In the United States, they use Internet Server Providers to catch anyone who would distribute copyrighted movies and videos. However, not all ISPs could be searched but they could be asked by any government to provide you online data activities.
Can you get caught torrenting?
Unfortunately, yes you could get caught for torrenting copyrighted materials. As mentioned earlier governments could track your online activities through your ISP and IP address. Hence, by monitoring the torrent file that you are trying to download, your IP address and ISP will be able to know what type of material you are downloading.
Who are the so-called copyright trolls? Copyright trolls are usually individuals and companies who goes after torrent pirates. They try to locate those who distribute copyrighted materials without any permission based on IP addresses. When these trolls succeed, all they do is take legal actions on behalf of copyright holders.
Consequences of Getting Caught Torrenting?
Copyright trolls usually send summons and threatening emails. Hence, if you get caught, your ISP will send you a settlement offer. Through your ISP, the usual fee would be 2 to 5 percent penalty. Though you are not legally obligated to pay the trolls, these trolls would try to get a settlement from you. Though you could ignore the settlement letter, but, take note that trolls could make good of their threat and bring you to court.
In the US, they usually define those who distributing copyrighted materials frequently to those who download just a few files and it is more likely that your ISP will have to face penalty. Hence, most ISPs would reduce your internet speed.
How to protect your connection whenever you torrent?
The obvious answer would be to avoid torrenting. However, we all know that it is difficult not to torrent at all. Hence, it is very important to protect your online activities and privacy. One way to do this is through the use of a Virtual Private Network or more commonly known as VPN.
VPN for Torrenting
A VPN could help you torrent in two ways. The first one is that it makes your IP address private by routing your activities to another location. This means, they will be able to change your IP address which makes it difficult to track your activities. The second way is that it encrypts your internet traffic. This means your ISP will not be able to monitor your online activities.
We highly recommend Tor browser as it could prevent anyone to be able to track your internet connection and has the ability to encrypt your data through Tor relays. In fact, this browser is used by journalists and activists.
When torrenting, we highly recommend to be smart. How? Avoid downloading latest and newly released movies, music and games.
Is streaming replacing torrenting?
Many individuals who torrents are now moving to streaming content. Some would use software tools such as Plex and Kodi. These two platforms are open-source software media centers. This means, you will be able to play any type of movies, music, videos and the like. Kodi and Plex are
able to stream copyrighted materials without permission from copyright holders. Though this is the case, Kodi is now in a huge legal pressure.
As mentioned earlier it is not illegal to torrent. However, it is illegal to distribute and download copyrighted materials. Hence, if you decide to do so, ensure that your connection is protected and kept private through Tor Network may it be legal or illegal.