Torrent sites are like search engines that use communication protocols of peer-to-peer file sharing to distribute data over the internet in multiple locations. With torrent sites, you can download Music, Videos, Software, Books, Pictures or Games. Torrent sites were created to make the sharing and downloading of large files easier. So the question is, whether it’s legal to download from torrent sites?
One thing for sure, torrent sites are not completely legal or illegal, it depends on the content being shared. If torrent users upload or download copyrighted files then the act becomes illegal.
Every now and then torrent sites are being shut down for illegal sharing of copyrighted or pirated contents. Few weeks ago one of the largest torrent sites Kickass was shut down after the alleged owner was arrested. Following that, another popular torrent site meta-search engine called Torrenz.eu says farewell to its millions of users. Read more…
Most torrent sites will show you a warning message like the image below to give you a heads up before you start downloading a file.
Torrents run on a P2P exchange. The person who downloads a file is called a LEECHER. A leecher is someone who does not have 100% of the data being downloaded. After downloading the complete file he/she can become a SEEDER. A seeder is someone who has completely downloaded a torrent file and uploads the content back for other peers to download from, this is called Seeding, which is normally done automatically by the torrent client software. The more people download and seed a torrent file the faster the download speed.
Consequences of Downloading Torrent Files
This might sound weird, but the truth is, there are some consequences that the greed of torrent files might risk you or your computer. And here are a few things that you need to know.
You Can Get Into Legal Issues
Wondering how? Government officials sometimes keep track of torrent files with copyrighted content and try to find out those downloading it. They get hold of your IP address (Internet Address) and report it to your ISP (Internet Service Provider). You then receive a notice that you’ve been caught downloading copyrighted content. You’re then taken to court for copyright violation.
Few weeks ago a friend of mine in Germany was caught downloading a 45 minute TV Show from one of the torrent sites, he received a letter from the German government that he broke the law and paid €600 ($665) (£508) (GMD28,475) in court.
Peer-To-Peer Exchange Can Bring In Viruses
Torrent file uploaders can include malicious programs within the files being shared (Remember free is not always free). Which could, of course, be harmful to your computer and data. If you don’t want to stop downloading files from torrent sites make sure you have a strong anti-malware software installed. Which could at least protect you from some malicious programs.
Your Computer Can Be Hacked
When you download a torrent file, your IP address could be seen by someone who uses the site. If a hacker finds your IP address, he/she could compromise your PC and have access to all your data. The greed of getting an application worth $20 for free might risk all your important stuffs.
How to stay safe?
If you think you can’t or don’t want to stop downloading from torrent sites; believe me it could be an addiction; then you should go safe. First of all, say no to illegal files, there will always be a risk of getting into legal issues. If you want to download free non-copyrighted software or other stuff try googling it instead.
Before downloading a torrent file read the comments first to see what others say about the file. You cannot tell for sure what the file you are about to download actually contains. Positive feedback generally means that the file is OK.
Try to connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to stay anonymous.
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Ousman Faal [Digital Vigilante] is a Tech Entrepreneur & Digital Skills Trainer who teaches both in the classroom and online. He has experience in various technologies and likes sharing it with others. Ousman has published 144 articles on this blog. He is the CEO of Faalen Technologies and Skills.gm.