Torrenting is a popular method to download movies, TV shows, music albums, books, games, software, and various other multimedia sources by sharing files between peers.
The popularity of torrenting is mainly driven by the fact that it is free. However, while the process itself is legal, sharing and downloading copyrighted material is illegal. This leaves torrent websites, torrent users, and torrent clients in a very grey area.
There are some important questions about torrenting, such as whether torrenting is illegal, whether it’s safe, how you can use a VPN for torrenting, what would happen if you get caught, and many more.
While we don’t encourage or approve illegally accessing copyrighted material, we believe in enlightening our readers with the most authentic news and information regarding torrenting.
So that’s why, in this guide, I’ll give you the answer to all of your questions and discuss the issues associated with torrenting.
What is Torrenting?
Torrenting is a method of downloading files in which the intended download file is broken into several smaller files. Instead of downloading a file from one server, torrent clients such as BitTorrent or uTorrent connect to many other computers based on the principle of peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing.
The files you download are fetched from several servers rather than downloading the material from a single source. Also, these servers are usually exclusive personal computers.
Torrenting also allows crypto-market participants to trade directly with one another by eliminating any third-party involvement. You can also subscribe to a VPN for cryptocurrency to receive additional security, anonymity, and cryptocurrency protection.
Is Torrenting Illegal?
Torrenting isn’t illegal. However, downloading or sharing any copyrighted material is considered illegal. There are countries where this type of file transfer is completely banned. After all, it’s most commonly used to share copyrighted content with other internet users.
Some countries impose fines for all types of torrent downloading, including movies, TV shows, and music. Such countries include Germany, France, United Kingdom, Finland, Japan, and UAE.
Furthermore, many countries have a history of shutting down torrent sites. These countries include the US, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Latvia, China, Malaysia, Australia, and South Africa.
Also, before you download any torrent, we recommend that you take a minute and read the comments and reviews left by the other members of the community. These comments and reviews will give you a pretty good idea of whether the torrent file you’re about to download contains any malicious files.
Furthermore, popular torrenting websites such as The Pirate Bay rate the uploader or show a “trusted source” sign, as shown below:
How to Protect Yourself While Torrenting?
If you want to keep torrenting while protecting your online privacy, staying under copyright trolls’ radar is important. Below, you’ll find some online tools that can minimize your risk of getting caught by ISPs or copyright trolls while downloading torrents.
1. Virtual Private Network
Using a virtual private network allows you to access the internet anonymously and conceal your true identity and location by connecting to a server in another country. Unfortunately, not every VPN provider supports torrenting on its server network.
VPN providers that support torrenting may offer limited servers or provide P2P-supported servers in countries you may not want to.
Moreover, you will also need a VPN with good download speeds. Otherwise, you will experience extreme wait times to download and upload files on a P2P network.
That’s why we always recommend using one of the best VPNs for torrenting, such as ExpressVPN. It has a server network of 3000+ servers in 94 countries and all of them support P2P/file-sharing/torrenting.
ExpressVPN’s speed test produced some interesting results. The service delivered a lightning-fast speed of 95.47 Mbps on a 100 Mbps internet connection. They even have a speed test tool integrated within the ExpressVPN application, so you can always connect to the fastest server available.
Also, ExpressVPN is equipped with military-grade AES-256-Bit encryption, strict zero-log policy, internet kill switch, and private DNS to ensure that your actual identity, location, and IP address isn’t exposed to anyone while you are torrenting.
For a decent price, ExpressVPN offers the best torrenting experience. In addition, you can also avail of ExpressVPN’s “12 months + 3 months free” subscription that comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
2. Tor Network
Tor, short for “The Onion Router,” was the brainchild of the US Navy. It was created to allow people to browse the internet securely from anywhere. In addition, it delivers next-level online protection by sending users’ traffic towards various Tor servers.
The Tor browser stops anyone from tracking your internet connection. It also encrypts your data multiple times so that no one can intercept or decode it. Internet users who wish to remain anonymous while downloading all sorts of content via torrenting can easily rely on Tor to keep ISP and copyright trolls off their backs.
You can read more about this technology in our detailed article on what is Tor? Also, do you know that you can add a layer of security, privacy, and anonymity by using a VPN and Tor network together? Learn all about this secure combination for torrenting in our best VPNs for Tor blog.
Consequences of Getting Caught While Torrenting
While torrenting is legal, downloading copyrighted content isn’t. Digital piracy does come with consequences that vary depending on where you live. While the chances of torrent users being prosecuted are very slim, they can be penalized sometimes.
The number of incidents involving copyright holders suing torrenters for copyright infringement peaked in the late 2000s. After that, digital pirates were sued for excessive money, and most settled out of court.
1. Copyright trolls
Copyright trolls are small businesses that foes after individual copyright pirates. Their job is to identify and locate torrenters that illegally download copyrighted material.
Once they have accomplished that, they then approach the copyright owners and sign a deal that lets them take legal action on their behalf. Others are hired directly by Hollywood production companies to sniff out pirates. Finally, the copyright trolls go after torrenters via mail or settlement letters. Again, intimidation, fear, and shame are used to make torrenters pay without ever going to court.
2. Settlement letters
After the copyright troll has identified you, they will go through the court system to call your ISP and force them to email you with a legal threat. This is the most common way to receive a settlement letter.
If you were reached out through your ISP, likely, the copyright troll doesn’t know your actual identity yet. If the letter doesn’t contain any identifiable information regarding you, it is better not to respond to it. Your case could be dismissed before the date that your ISP is set to reveal your details to the troll.
If the copyright trolls send out 1,000 threatening emails and 50 people reply, they only need a handful to cough up money to make it worth their time. Chances are it’s more cost-effective for them to move on to the next swarm of torrenters than pursue the remaining 950 people.
3. ISP fines
Depending on your ISP, it may take action against you on its behalf. That could mean throttling your internet connection or threatening to hand over personal details to a copyright troll.
Bandwidth costs and kickbacks from various content owners and associations can lead the ISP to take any form of action against you.
Will streaming services replace torrenting?
Yes, as torrent users have made the transition from uTorrent and BitTorrent to streaming online content. Some prefer streaming on web browsers, while others install and customize software tools, like Kodi and Plex.
Can BitTorrent install adware on my computer?
No, since BitTorrent is a network and protocol used to share files, it cannot install adware on your computer.
However, the programs used to connect to the BitTorrent network and download files, called torrent managers or torrent clients, often come with adware. The files you download can also contain malware and adware.
It is necessary to stick to a reputable torrent manager and, if prompted, decline any offers to install additional software alongside them.
Is downloading from Google drive illegal?
If you’re downloading something from Google Drive, then it is not a torrent. The file might have originally been downloaded via any torrent client, then uploaded to Google Drive, where others can download it.
Furthermore, if the file’s content is protected by copyright, it is illegal to download pirated files from Google Drive.
Can I download torrents using public Wi-Fi?
Yes, you can download torrents using public Wi-Fi as long as you have a torrent client installed on your device. However, public Wi-Fi connections are unsecured and contain several security risks. To avoid these risks and protect your identity and data while torrenting, you need a reliable VPN such as ExpressVPN that comes with robust encryption and security.
Can I go to prison for torrenting?
While it depends on the circumstances, it is highly unlikely that someone would go to prison for just downloading torrents. Most lawsuits regarding torrenting are civil suits, not criminal ones, so if a penalty is levied, it’s usually a fine or some other monetary compensation.
Are there any risks involved in downloading torrents related to music?
Yes, there are risks involved in downloading music torrents as the music recording industry has, on occasion, aggressively targeted torrenters who engaged in music piracy.
Litigation is mostly done by copyright trolls who target torrenters on behalf of recording studios. They’ll send out settlement letters demanding hundreds or even thousands of dollars to torrenters whom they can identify. Unfortunately, they usually contact ISPs to contact torrenters, and the ISPs can throw you under the bus, and that’s not a gamble we recommend taking.
So there you have it. We hope we have satisfied your thirst for finding the answer to the question, “is torrenting safe?”.
When the act of just visiting a torrenting website can be considered suspicious in many countries, it’d be better if you rely on a secure VPN provider just like ExpressVPN to hide your online activities, identity, location, and IP address.
With ExpressVPN’s 3000+ servers in 94 countries that support torrenting and advanced security features such as AES-256-Bit encryption, internet kill switch, and private DNS, you’d never again have to worry about any copyright troll or ISP notices.
If you hurry up, you can avail of ExpressVPN’s limited-time offer of a “12 months + 3 months free” subscription that comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.