What is Torrenting? Are torrents illegal?

When using the internet to download applications from Microsoft or a movie from iTunes for example, these files are sourced directly from a particular server on the internet. Torrenting in simple terms is basically a different way of downloading data files. Many people will ask is Torrenting illegal and are Torrents illegal? This a grey area which we will explain below.

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What is torrenting?

Torrenting is the use of P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing that connects to a range of computers based all over the public internet, each one contributing small parts of the file and the software used such as uTorrent, disperses the storage of each file whether it be movies or games that are to be downloaded.

Once you have downloaded your chosen files, your computer will then become one of the many computers that will be sourced for other users to grab parts of files from. Also, you are able to share files that you have purchased elsewhere for public use.

Prior to P2P becoming popular, there were lots of websites that would stream and download copyrighted movies and shows, these would be shut down very quickly but with Torrenting there are no central servers and therefore it is a lot harder to discover and close down.

Is Torrenting illegal?

A lot of people will wonder, is Torrenting legal? Torrenting is completely legal, it is the downloading and distributing of copyrighted files that is illegal.

Torrenting also carried the risk of transmitting infected files and if you do share copyrighted files you are in jeopardy of being traced and caught. Torrenting is regularly used by over 170 million users on BitTorrent alone each month, so it is a risk that many are prepared to take.

Whilst we would never condone the sharing of copyrighted files, we can help you to take steps to hide your identity and location with the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network). However, this still leaves a grey and does not answer the million-dollar question; is torrenting legal?

Is downloading movies illegal?

As stated earlier if you are caught downloading copyrighted movies then yes you could face legal action. It is very simple for copyright trolls to find an unhidden IP address. This is why if you are using P2P on a regular basis, you should always consider protecting your identity with a reputable VPN. The question of is Torrenting illegal or are Torrents illegal has to be based on your own reasons for using it.

The ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and many governments are working to make Torrenting as difficult as possible and many UK providers aggressively block web access to certain Torrenting sites. The Daily Express has formed a team of content creators to form the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) that are pro-actively working against illegal torrenting, online piracy and is helping to push laws through to help protect copyrighted material.

It is relatively simple to find the IP address of illegal downloaders, to a great extent the copyright holders will watch the movements of their most popular files and that will lead straight to the IP address of the computer that is downloading and sharing to others. This could be enough to consider is Torrenting illegal and if the information is enough to start legal proceedings.

What are the penalties for downloading copyrighted material?

When asked is downloading movies illegal the answer has to lie in the types of movies you want to download. Should you not be protected by a VPN and are unlucky enough to be suspected of illegally Torrenting, you may initially receive a letter from your ISP demanding you to stop using Torrent. You can also find your internet speed will be limited or “throttled down” and although it is not confirmed, may ISPs will use the throttled down system for file sharing websites automatically.

This is why you will find that P2P files are sometimes much slower than purchased or free sites such as YouTube. It is widely reported that there have been prison sentences given to some who have been sharing copyrighted files.

Are Torrents illegal? The Indian government seems to think so and so are pushing for lengthy sentences for just visiting Torrent sites, so should you be visiting India, it is very wise to check out an Indian VPN guide to make sure you are fully protected.

While it is hoped that a court will see the difference between a lone user downloading for private use, against a business downloading and sharing massive amounts of files. Is downloading movies illegal? There are still some grey areas and fines are mostly used to punish rather than prison. Be aware, the fines can be huge, with many being around the million-dollar mark.

The best ways to Torrent without risk

  • Use a good VPN (see our recommendations below)
  • Avoid the latest releases, music or movies
  • Always use a good Anti-Virus program
  • Try using the Tor anonymity network

By using a good VPN, especially one with encryption your identity and location are hidden, and the copyright trolls search will lead to a dead-end making it really difficult to track the end-users. It is also very wide to make sure you re fully protected with a good Anti-Virus program as often infected files such as Trojan and keylogger are passed very quickly through P2P sharing and can shut you down immediately.

In most cases, the latest box office hits and top tunes are monitored extra closely and without anonymity, you will be found very quickly.

There are networks such as Tor that uses relay techniques and encryption that will disguise your internet activity, such sites can have dark web links that will put it on the criminal activity radar and its use can slow internet speeds, but when used in conjunction with a VPN your anonymity is much increased. So, is Torrenting legal? That is a question that you personally have to answer.

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David, a true internet enthusiast and self-proclaimed internet freak! Delving into technical depths is his pleasure, and the more complex the subject, the better. With a background in cyber security certifications, David's expertise is solidified as a former hacker. He possesses an in-depth understanding of bits and bytes and showcases his creativity in the field. As a dedicated Cybersecurity consultant, David is well-equipped to handle intricate security matters. For any inquiries or collaboration opportunities, you can reach out to him via email at david@vpnveteran.com.

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