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Is Torrenting Illegal or Legal? Check all Legalities

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Torrenting is a widespread technique of downloading files like movies, songs, games, and many others through a torrent client.

Torrents extensively use this technique worldwide to download the file from a single server, which is later transferred by several users who already have that particular file on their computer.

What is torrenting?

Torrenting is a type of peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing skill where numerous users can connect and share their specific and required files instead of being dependent on a single website or a source to download files.

It is very useful in that the users download files from a single website/ source and other users of the same torrent, enabling a flowing transfer among the users.

Moreover, torrenting also reduces the network because, in torrenting, each peer/ user acts as a mini-server and considerably reduces the load.

How to use it?

A wrong interpretation about torrenting is that many people think of it as a normal downloading process; however, in reality, things are a lot different. People prefer torrenting because it is quite easy to search for a file according to the user’s choice. A user can search it on the internet and download it using a torrent.

Torrenting can be done so that a file is fragmented into small chunks of data. However, the user/peer has a different fragment of the file. The user downloads it, shares it with peers who don’t have it, and downloads all the data chunks. When the users have downloaded them all, they put them all together, and at last, a complete file is formed.

In other words, to use a torrent, a user must follow these steps:

  • Download a torrent client.
  • Search for a reliable torrent to download.
  • Download the torrent file.
  • Add the torrent file to the client.

Is Torrenting Legal or Illegal?

This is a very confusing debate that either torrenting is legal or illegal but, it is essential to know that torrenting is just a simple way of sharing files among the users/peers. In this act, torrenting is not an illegal thing.

The legal and illegal aspect of torrenting depends on the file being downloaded. If the shared file is not restricted or copyrighted, then torrenting is legal, but if the downloaded file is illegal or unofficial, such files might have their own consequences.

Since every country has its own legal structure for implementing copyright rules and regulations, it may be possible that if torrenting is considered illegal in one country and another country, it might be legal. This all depends on the privacy laws and the use of the internet. If you live in a country where torrenting is illegal, then it is necessary that you have to download torrents secretly, and you must remain anonymous.

There is nothing illegal about using torrent client software; however, sharing plagiarized and copyrighted content is prohibited and illegal in many countries.

Is Torrenting Safe?

Although torrenting is not illegal, it is a bit risky. If a user/peer torrents any copyrighted material, there is a greater chance of being caught by higher authorities. Moreover, there is also a chance of downloading infected files. Hence, it is recommended to use a VPN to make torrenting safer.

Governments and service providers work together to make the life of the users more and more difficult for those who torrent media files and pirate software.

Risks of Torrenting?

Torrent downloading is done from a network of peers so, the risk of computer viruses tying a ride is slightly lesser than with normal downloading.

Another concern associated with torrenting is malware. The peer wouldn’t know that the downloaded torrent file might contain the virus from a source. The downloaded virus-affected torrent files can become a reason to cripple down the user’s computer system.

There is a risk of illegal and unlawful access to corporations’ serious and significant business information with torrenting. This sensitive data may include workers’ records, corporations’ policies, information about stakeholders, rewards, and many more. If a worker downloads a torrents file and saves that torrent file in the same folder that contains the critical information, the corporations’ higher authorities can access the folder. If they notice a torrent file, they will undoubtedly take action against that person.

Torrenting doesn’t directly affect the user’s system. However, there is always a possibility of online hack attacks and illegal access to users’ information. As soon as a user either uploads, downloads, or shares a torrent file, the online hackers become active and manage to collect data about the online user’s activities. After acquiring users’ data, the hackers use it for their personal use and advantage.

The torrent users are under the supervision of surveillance agencies. They observe users’ online activities. If they find hints of the illegally downloaded torrent file or any copyrighted torrent file, then the torrent users face legal penalties for their actions.

Torrenting Rules and Regulations in Different Countries:

Different countries have different rules and regulations for torrenting. Torrenting may be legal in one country but it is possible that it might not be permitted in other countries.

The following list shows different countries having different torrenting statuses:

Countries where downloaded copyrighted content is permitted for personal useCountries where downloaded copyrighted content is overlookedCountries where downloaded copyrighted content is finedCountries that have shut down torrenting sites
PolandArgentinaFinlandAustralia
SpainBrazilFranceChina
SwitzerlandCanadaGermanyItaly
 ColumbiaJapanLatvia
 Czech RepublicUAEMalaysia
 DenmarkUKPortugal
 Egypt Russia
 Greece South Africa
 India USA
 Iran  
 Israel  
 Mexico  
 Netherlands  
 Philippines  
 Romania  
 Slovakia  
 Singapore  
 Uruguay  

Penalties If You Caught With Torrenting:

In the USA, illegal downloading falls under the Copyright Act of 1976. Since the torrenting sites are entirely shut down in the US, if someone is caught up with torrenting, then the general penalty is a monetary fine. The damage an accused may be indebted can range from $750 to $30,000.

This is an exactly fixed penalty amount. It may also depend upon the facts of the case and will later be decided by the legal courts too. For example, according to CNN, a 32-year-old woman who belongs from Minnesota was found accountable for downloading 24 songs and was charged $80,000 per song, which means a total of $1.9 million.

According to a report published earlier this year, more than 1,000 lawsuits were filed against the use of BitTorrent in the US last year. Similarly, in the UK, illegal downloading falls under civil law, while copyright violation or stealing someone else work and publishing it on the internet has a sentence of a maximum of two years.

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Rebecca James is an IT consultant with forward thinking approach toward developing IT infrastructures of SMEs. She writes to engage with individuals and raise awareness of digital security, privacy, and better IT infrastructure.

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