Torrenting is the quickest and the most convenient way of sharing data across the Web. The key benefit of this method is that it’s free. All you need is a PC with access to the internet, and you’re all set.
But it’s no secret that the technology is strongly associated with internet piracy. So let’s try to finally answer the two essential questions: is torrenting illegal and how to use it without violating anything?
Is it legal to use torrents?
A lot of torrent trackers are blocked for distributing pirated content. But trackers also contain a lot of copyright files and free seeds that are completely legal. If you download content that isn’t copyrighted, you won’t face any consequences.
Each country treats copyright infringement in its own way, punishing violators with fines or imprisonment. Usually, the authorities first have to prove that a person financially profited from torrenting. Access restriction is mainly used to fight against the illegal distribution of content. As a rule, the user doesn’t actually face liability for illegal downloading. But in some states, even simple downloading of illegal content entails real administrative or even criminal liability.
The BitTorrent protocol is completely safe, as it’s nothing more than a tool for file sharing, and you can find hundreds of legal torrent services out there. But anything that concerns copyrighted content is a different matter. In plain English: torrenting is OK until you start abusing it to distribute copyrighted material.
How to torrent safely
Use a reliable client
The easiest option is to stick to uTorrent. This client is pretty convenient and legal, despite being actively used by pirates. The software is free from viruses (as long as you get it from reliable sources) and can be used securely. You can get it from various websites, as it’s distributed for free.
Public and private trackers
Trackers work similarly to Google, indexing files on the BitTorrent network. They can be private or public.
Among the largest trackers is ThePirateBay, a great example of an open-source tracker. You’re not required to log in to explore it. Also, anyone can add files for downloading. These downloads aren’t moderated, so you decided for yourself whether the video or app you’re about to download won’t harm your system.
Private trackers are more reliable when it comes to the audience that uses them. They vary greatly, offering all sorts of content. They also may be officially blocked by the authorities, though. Such trackers require registration before you can use them.
How to keep things legal
Choose your trackers wisely. There are numerous websites that only accept legal files. These can include old movies or games, open-source software, and more.