Downloading copyrighted files via torrents is often illegal in most countries. But just how likely is it to get caught torrenting should someone choose to do it, and what happens when someone gets caught torrenting illegal files.
Quick disclaimer: ClickRelay.com does not promote or condone illegal file sharing. P2P sharing/torrenting is legal but some torrents may break copyright laws in your country. It is important to note that we are not responsible for your actions and what torrent files you choose to download.
How Likely Is It To Get Caught Torrenting
If you choose to download copyrighted content using a torrent client there is always some risk involved. Downloading a file from the internet that you don’t own to your computer is in most countries illegal.
Different people have different experiences with the law when torrenting.
Some people claim they have been torrenting big files daily with no consequences, others claim they have had letters and multiple threats from their ISP.
There isn’t a simple answer to this question. But let’s take a look at what we do know.
The average Internet Service Provider has millions of users. According to expandedranblings.com, Comcast has over 25 million active subscribers with an internet line. How many of these are torrenting? If I had to guess I would say a couple million.
I guess what we’re saying is a couple million people think the reward outways the risk.
It’s obvious your ISP can’t look through everyone’s internet traffic to make sure they aren’t doing anything illegal online so does this mean your safe?
Not at all… The way most people get caught torrenting is by being reported to their ISP by the copyright holders of said files.
How Does Your ISP Know Your Torrenting?
There are a few ways you can be found out if you’re torrenting. In most cases you’re ISP will turn a blind eye to torrent files, or just won’t see them due to the amount of data they have.
So if your ISP turns a blind eye to torrenting then how do people get caught? The question should be more like, how does Beyonce know I downloaded her new album?
Most commonly, the copyright holders will be the ones to find out your torrenting activity, who will then report it to your ISP for them to take action.
The most common method copyright holders use to catch people torrenting their files is called the torrent honey pot. This method involves them downloading their content that they’re well aware is being hosted on a torrent site.
Let’s take Beyonce as an example. Say she has released a brand new album and somehow its made its way onto the pirate bay.
Her team responsible for DMCA takedowns may download the torrent file using uTorrent.
When downloading the torrent you can easily see the IP addresses of people who are downloading and seeding parts of the album.
Once they have your IP, they will report you to your Internet Service Provider with a DMCA takedown notice.
Its then up to the ISP to take action against you torrenting.
What Happens If Your Caught Torrenting?
So what happens if you’re caught torrenting? What action will your ISP take to stop torrenting on their line? Just like other laws, this depends on your location, what you’ve been caught downloading and how many times you’ve been caught.
Heres what happens if you’re caught and how you can prevent getting caught in the first place.
If you get caught torrenting for the first time, generally you will get a letter to your door telling you to stop. However, people have reported letters telling them to get a lawyer for further legal action.
Letters like these almost always don’t go any further than that.
Your ISP has the right to cut off your internet altogether, somewhere in their terms and agreements that you agreed to when choosing your internet provider, it most likely says you cannot download content you don’t own or something along those lines.
You ISP may throttle speed. Another likely situation, your ISP may throttle your service if they see you downloading and seeding illegal torrents. Again, this depends on the ISP and the terms and conditions you signed.
You may be taken to caught and have to pay a fine. Copyright laws are serious and downloading and seeding big files that you don’t own can lead to companies losing millions of dollars in some cases.
If a company wants to prosecute you, they have much more money and access to better lawyers.
Those are just some examples of things that could happen. That doesn’t’ mean you will definitely get caught, that also means you definitely will be ok. These examples have happened to real people torrenting files they don’t own.
You also don’t know when the government decides they want to make an example of someone. Here are some steps you can take to stay safe when torrenting and not get caught.
How To Avoid Getting Caught Torrenting
Download a VPN. Please…
If you’re torrenting without using a VPN, please just download one for your own safety.
If you happen to be downloading torrents and don’t know what a VPN is then let me explain.
A VPN or virtual private network will encrypt your traffic. Without a VPN your home IP address will be visible through your torrent client, this is how copyright holders will find out who’s downloading their copyrighted files.
With a VPN turned on, all of your data goes through an encrypted tunnel and it completely changes your IP address. In simple terms, once turned on, your IP address will be hidden and you will be shown as if you’re in a different location.
Now you need to make sure you get a VPN that has unlimited bandwidth and most importantly, hold no logs. These are hard to find as some say they will protect you but in their terms and conditions will say they hold logs.
I have always used IPVanish to keep me safe when torrenting. They hold no logs, have unlimited bandwidth and you can connect to loads of countries easily. Go and check them out if you care about your privacy.
Don’t download new stuff…
If a brand new movie just came out, don’t download it. The same goes for anything that only just been released. These files are going to be the ones that are going to be tracked by copyright holders. Do yourself a favor and wait a couple weeks.
And use some common sense. With a VPN enabled you will be safe, keep it on when you’re downloading the torrent file, and when you are using your torrent client.
As always stay on the side of caution. That’s about it. Stay safe and happy torrenting.