Torrents are downloaded by hundreds of millions of people every month and are the default way of file transfer and file sharing among many TV series, movies, and gaming lovers.
Those who need premium software usually default to torrent websites instead of paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for official software.
Unfortunately, most torrent downloads are pirate downloads, that is just the way it is. This is why there are rules you should know before you torrent such as finding out if it is illegal or not in a particular context. Find out more about all of this in the sections below! Overearth/Shutterstock.com
A Bit of Background on Torrenting
Before we venture into the dark side of torrenting, it is important to grasp the paradigm first. Torrenting is a form of decentralized piece-by-piece downloading of BitTorrent files with the .torrent extension.
It was named this way because the flow of data resembles a torrential flow of water. The “bit” in BitTorrent technology signifies both bits of data storage as well as the bits and pieces of incoming and outgoing data.
This medium of file transfer and sharing has been around for twenty years now and it has been instrumental for gamers and multimedia lovers. However, the torrent of today is vastly different from that of ten years ago.
Internet speeds have quadrupled, computers have become ten times faster and the amount of content out there is unfathomable. As a result, several advances have both improved the stability of BitTorrent technology and brought about a high amount of capable torrent platforms and torrent client software.
Furthermore, most tech-savvy people who have been around a computer for the last decade or so are bound to have torrented something along the way (especially the Millennial generation). This is not to say that those downloads are illegal, of course, but you get the picture.
What is Torrenting?
Torrenting refers to the downloading of “.torrent” files via a torrent client from a platform such as RARBG, 1337x, or The Pirate Bay that hosts these files. There are dozens of platforms, some being better and more popular than others.
Furthermore, torrent downloading is different from regular downloads in that it is a process that is shared across multiple computers across a network in a give-and-take configuration. As a result, enormous files can be slowly downloaded in an uninterrupted and decentralized manner which would otherwise be impossible via a direct HTTP download or otherwise.
What Are the Rules?
Now, torrenting is known for its run-ins with the law. This is because a lot of pirated material is hosted on torrent platforms to this day. This includes pirated movies, cracked PC games, and unlocked software.
For instance, one can download an entire software suite costing 1000 dollars for free in the form of a torrent file that was cracked by a hacker who posts on torrent platforms.
Another issue is that torrenting is sometimes simply banned or restricted in certain countries to dissuade users from downloading copyrighted or protected material.
A good example is the famous Napster service that was shut down in 2001. The music industry was enraged with the download of pirated MP3s. Since then, for instance, developed countries like the U.S. have created rules, regulations, and laws where copyright infringement and pirate activity can be prosecuted.
Albeit, hundreds of millions of people continue to download torrents in various ways and it looks like the pirate community is unstoppable.
Continuing with the rules, there is quite a bit of aspect to mention. Several regulations aim to curb computer fraud and abuse, copyright abuse, and electronic theft. Some of these are;
- The NET act
- The CFAA
- The DMCA
Now, these are laws enacted in the Western world and they do not apply everywhere. Many countries around the world do not have any regulations concerning torrents at all, while others strictly ban the activity.
For instance, here are some countries where torrenting is strictly illegal and can be persecuted;
- The USA
- The UK
- The UAE
- South Africa
Now, there are several nuances to these rules. As we said earlier, some countries do not even have rules that cover torrenting.
Other countries such as Switzerland, Spain, and Poland permit the downloading of copyrighted material if it is only for personal use. Furthermore, torrenting is overlooked in countries like;
- The Netherlands
As you can see, it does depend on where you are. The harshest fines usually apply to the distributors of copyrighted content and not the consumers of it.
In most countries in Europe, for instance, you might get away with a warning via email or a warning from the police if you are caught downloading or sharing material via torrent. If you live in a country where the rules are harsh, try to find legal ways to consume content such as Spotify, Steam, and Netflix.
How About Using a VPN?
Using a VPN can get you around several of these regulations, technically, if you live in a restricted region for torrenting. However, that is two-fold.
First, you have to check whether VPN usage is allowed, and secondly, you have to be very cautious about your online presence. Technically, however, using a premium VPN such as NordVPN or Surfshark will make you invisible to the rest of the internet so that there is a very small chance that authorities will find you (unless you are a major pirate).
Doing this is simple. You subscribe to a premium VPN like those above, download the software, and connect (re-route) your internet to a server outside of your country.
This will make it so that your IP address is somewhere else and so you will not draw attention to yourself this way.
This will also unblock torrent platforms if they are blocked in your country. Of course, make sure to download a VPN via a free online proxy service because you might not be able to access VPN services in the first place.
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