What Happens If You Get Caught Torrenting? Quick Tips To Stay Safe

Hasnain Khalid  - Web Content Manager
Last updated: April 3, 2024 Reading time: 12 minutes
Stay Safe

Torrenting has long since been popular due to the load of free content it provides. However, despite its popularity, torrenting is plagued with many safety and privacy concerns, not to mention that it is also considered illegal.

Regarding legality, torrent somewhat falls in the grey area since it is not the very act that is illegal but the content you download. Torrenting is a reliable file-share method for many open-source software and hardware firms due to its P2P-based nature, making the activity legal. The legality concern with torrenting arises when used to share copyrighted content aspirated.

Since most commercially produced songs, videos, movies, and even books are copyrighted, torrenting is famously considered illegal in most countries. Many privacy-centric netizens use VPNs to get past torrenting privacy and ISP throttling issues. However, when it comes to the question of “what happens when you get caught while torrenting,” there are several things that you need to consider and look into.

How can you Get Caught?

ISPs, copyright agencies, and the government constantly search for torrent users. The copyrighted trolls or their representatives visit the sharing sites you have used. They will download some material to check where the IP address is coming from. Next, they look for the internet service provider who provides that IP address and contact them by saying some IP addresses share illegal materials. We want to warn them for doing so.

The service provider will then look for the IPs and check the accounts. They will first send warning letters to the account holders. But if this sharing activity continues, the copyright trolls will seek a court order to force your service providers to provide your account details. They will also comply with their lawyers to send a legal notice to you. But if ignored, you will be dragged to legal court for further proceedings and action.

Quick tips for torrenting safely?

  • Avoid downloading movies, TV shows, video games, or TV series after being released on Blu-ray and DVD within the last two months. Copyright holders use their anti-piracy resources to hinder torrents to maximize profits because this is when they make a significant portion of their post-box office money.
  • Select your torrenting browsers carefully. Popular torrenting sites like Kickass and The Pirate Bay are more likely to be monitored by the authorities and copyright trolls. So, you should choose your torrent based on user reviews and comments because they regularly run virus scans on torrent downloads.
  • Always run your virus scans regardless of positive user reviews. You should use an efficient antivirus program, like Norton 360, to scan all downloads before opening them. This is essential when downloading software and online games, often ‘cracked’ by uploaders. Cracks not only aid in circumventing DRM schemes that authenticate content with the publisher, but they also spread spyware, viruses, and malware.
  • Popcorn Time users should exercise caution just like torrents. This is because most users are unaware that the platform streams directly from torrents, and it may save copyrighted content to upload for other users.

Things that can happen when you Get Caught Torrenting

Getting caught while torrenting may hit you harder than purchasing the content at the original price. Mentioned below are the things which can happen when you can get caught torrenting any copyrighted movie, music, TV show, or some other stuff:

Civil Disobedience

The Copyright Act of 1976 covers illegal downloading and streaming of copyrighted stuff. Under this act, people are prohibited from copying, republishing, or using other works without the permission of copyright trolls. Copyright infringements are implemented through civil suits where the owner takes legal action for monetary damages.

Technological advancement has made it easy to share information and files. In this situation, the copyright trolls now antagonistically target sites like ThePirateBay. The copyright owners can’t shut down the sites where the files are shared and target the file sharers separately. The copyright owners not only target individuals but also go after big companies. For example, more than 30 people were charged for torrenting “Dallas Buyers Club”; moreover, Lionsgate fined ten people for sharing “Expendables.”


The price for illegal downloading or streaming material can be a bit expensive. The Federal Copyright Law agrees for damages ranging from $750 to $30,000 per work. For example, one man sued $675,000 for downloading 30 songs, while another woman was fined $1.9 million for downloading 24 songs.

If the charges are not enough of a warning, then some jurisdictions apply criminal punishments for online piracy. Consult an experienced intellectual property attorney if anyone is charged with copyright violations.

Examples of Cases where people Get Caught Torrenting

The copyright trolls take help from agencies to search for people who download copyrighted content. They receive the IP address details from the service providers and take legal action against them. The victims have shared their experiences and stories on Reddit as they were caught while torrenting. Some victims have just received a legal notice to consult a lawyer, but further proceedings are upheld. However, some victims are sued for torrenting.

A victim shared that his cousin was sued for $80 per song for downloading a 12-song album. Also, another woman from Minnesota was charged $80,000 per song for downloading 24 songs.

In the United Kingdom, the fine for copyright violation depends on the seriousness of the case. In severe cases, it can often lead to an appearance before the magistrate where the penalty is up to £5,000 or six months of incarceration. However, in extreme cases, the culprit might be sent to the Crown Court, which can enforce an unlimited fine and imprisonment of up to 10 years.

Torrenting is not necessarily illegal because it is simply a method of P2P sharing of torrent files. Therefore, accessing torrenting websites or downloading torrents is considered legal in most countries.

However, downloading unauthorized copyrighted content is illegal. How the materials of respective torrent files breach copyright laws differs per country. For example, it is illegal to download, upload, or share copyrighted content in the UK, New Zealand, the US, Australia, and most EU countries.

Unfortunately, most major torrenting websites collect and share copyrighted materials. Therefore, you should only download movies, TV shows, and music from the public domain to be safe and avoid landing in legal trouble. Furthermore, the Universal Copyright Convention and Berne Convention are the most popular global treaties on copyright that obligate member countries to enforce all copyright laws and prosecute anybody who violates them.

What is the penalty for torrenting?

The consequences of torrenting copyrighted content also vary by country. You may face a momentary ban, a warning message, a slower internet connection, a small fine, or legal action. Some countries have extreme punishments, and you could end up in prison with a long sentence.

The USA uses a three-strike system for anyone seized torrenting any copyright materials. Also, content creators may file a lawsuit, and if found guilty, they can be fined up to $250,000 or imprisoned for at least 5 years.

Things that can happen when you get caught torrenting in different countries globally

CountryTorrenting Punishment
UKUp to 5 years in prison and a £5000 fine
AustraliaA fine
USUp to $250,000 fine and at least five years in prison
Other EU StatesThree strike rule with possible internet ban, prison sentences, and a fine of between €300 to €1000.
EgyptBetween LE10,000 to LE20,000 fine and a minimum of three months prison sentence
ColombiaUp to $327,000 fine and eight years in prison
BrazilA Fine and three months to a year prison sentence
JapanUp to ¥2 million fine and up to 2 years in prison
South KoreaA 3-strike system with up to six months internet ban.
RomaniaUp to four years prison sentence
South AfricaUp to R10,000 fine and up to 5  years prison term
New Zealand3-strike rule with up to NZ$15,000 Fine
GermanyA Fine of €3000
FranceUp to €300,000 fine and not less than three years prison sentence

Will you get caught torrenting?

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and copyright trolls frequently monitor P2P networks such as uTorrent and BitTorrent to find anyone sharing or downloading copyrighted content. Torrenting such files in the UK, US, Europe, and Australia without a secure and private VPN could get you into trouble.

Additionally, copyright trolls are common in the US. They are third parties, especially law firms, who prioritize catching copyright violators on behalf of content owners by distributing files as bait or hiding in torrent swarms.

To avoid being caught, we recommend downloading legal material from the public domain and avoiding downloading copyrighted content via torrenting sites. Alternatively, you can use a reliable VPN to encrypt your connections.

Public vs. private trackers

Trackers are like search engines that index files on the BitTorrent network, and they can be private or public.

Public trackers include KickassTorrents, The Pirate Bay, and Demonoid. Anyone can visit their websites and access their search engines without requiring credentials or verification.

Additionally, individuals can upload files for others to download without moderation, so you must determine whether a download is secure and valid based on the uploader’s reputation and reviews. On the other hand, private trackers limit who can upload or download files within the group. Private tracker members enjoy faster downloads, high-quality files, consistency, safety, and longer retention than public tracker users. However, the law considers public and private trackers as forms of online piracy.

Can your ISP catch you torrenting with a VPN?

A VPN service allows you to torrent privately and safely without the risk of being compromised. However, if any of the following incidents occur while torrenting with a VPN, you may get caught:

If a VPN lacks torrenting support

Some ordinary VPN users may be unaware that not all VPN providers support torrenting. It would be best if you avoided free VPNs because they do not support torrenting, they log your data, have weak encryption, and offers slow connection speeds.

It is best to use a reliable VPN service, such as ExpressVPN, which fully supports torrenting and provides advanced privacy and security features. Moreover, it should support port-forwarding and have sufficient VPN servers to guarantee fast and stable connections.

IP leaks

This occurs when a VPN fails to safeguard your new IP address comprehensively. A VPN may leak a small amount of your data, which is enough to reveal your connection to your ISP and other third parties. Therefore, select a trustworthy VPN service that can conceal your IP address throughout your connections. Furthermore, the VPN service should offer features like a kill switch to turn off web traffic if the VPN connection drops.

VPN Logs

A reliable VPN provider should have a no-logs policy. VPNs that record logs can share your data with copyright trolls and ISPs, risking your online privacy and security because they can view your online activities.

Streaming vs. torrenting

Most people today prefer streaming video content on their web browsers or via customized platforms like Kodi to downloading content through BitTorrent. Regarding security, streaming pirated content involves the same risks as torrenting, such as phishing threats, intrusive ads, and malware.

Depending on your country, streaming unlawful content from a piracy site may still be considered illegal. For example, it is illegal in the UK, legal in India, and still a gray area in the US because no one has been charged for streaming copyrighted materials.

Moreover, it is difficult for law enforcers and copyright trolls to catch you while streaming content. This is because streaming sends videos from a site to your gadget without involving third parties, unlike downloading torrents, which allows you to see the IP addresses of everyone you are downloading from or uploading to.

However, the streaming website may be logging your data, and they may be obligated to share it with copyright trolls or authorities. In addition, your ISP can monitor your activities and see that you are streaming pirated content. Fortunately, this can be avoided by using a reliable VPN service like ExpressVPN.

Quick Tips To Torrent Safely?

Here are some tips which will surely help you to torrent without getting caught:

Use a VPN

Another way to download torrents without getting caught is to use a reliable VPN provider. Using a VPN is one of the handiest tools while you download torrents. It routes all your data traffic via a remote server located in a country of your choice. In this way, a VPN hides your IP address, adds a significant anonymity layer, and makes it difficult for copyright trolls to track you.

Moreover, a VPN also encrypts your torrent traffic before leaving the system. Your ISP can’t monitor your online activities. All your internet traffic first goes through the VPN server, thus making it impossible for the ISPs to know where it is going.

Related Articles: How to Downloading Torrents Safely

Avoid Open Communities

While torrenting, the IP address is shared with various other users who help you finish the downloading by sending you the chunks of the file they have already downloaded. You also send them your pieces, and everyone has a complete file. The copyright owners look for illegal downloading. They might also search for your IP address and contact you if needed.

The public tracking sites are open to everyone and don’t verify the user’s identity. Moreover, there are no restrictions on the downloading material, making it easy for the company to jump in and grab some IPs.

However, private torrent trackers offer extra protection by first involving users in registering themselves. Therefore, avoiding open communities and opting for public trackers is suggested.

Read Comments

Every reliable and trusted torrent site has a separate section for user comments on the download page. Read and scan these comments carefully before downloading any material. If you find anything doubtful or the torrent has no comments, it is good to avoid it.

Block Bad IPs

Different companies are joining torrent sites on downloads to take hold of the IPs; their IP address also becomes available. However, by downloading and installing a free program called PeerGuardian2, you can avoid them by blocking lousy IP addresses from connecting you.

Caps Your Uploads

If you want not to get caught while torrenting, it’s better not to seed and cap your uploads. By stopping the client’s seeding bandwidth, you can efficiently take yourself off the radar of several copyright owners.

Use Secure Torrent Client

Using a secure torrent client can reduce the dangers of torrenting. It enables the users to share torrent files between all the globally connected peers powered by the same protocol. The torrent clients help in the safe and fast downloading of torrent files by maintaining your online privacy. They come with impressive features resulting in a quick and secure torrenting experience. A torrent client prevents ISP from tracking your activities and protects your device from malware and adware invasion.


Torrenting is risky, especially if you don’t take any precautionary measures. It is essential to avoid open communities, block bad IPs, read comments, and avoid seeding while torrenting. Doing so will save you from being caught and facing legal action and penalties.

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About the Author

Hasnain Khalid

Hasnain Khalid

Web Content Manager

Hasnain Khalid is a passionate streaming and security enthusiast, who has proved his expertise on renowned platforms, including PrivacySavvy.com, ExtremeVPN.com, NetflixSavvy, and more. With a keen eye for online safety and a love for all strеaming matters, Hasnain combinеs his еxpеrtisе to navigatе thе digital world with confidеncе and providе valuablе insights to usеrs worldwidе.

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