Is Torrenting Illegal? Torrent Legality Explained
In the 20th century, as the world entered the digital era, and most media turned from paper into digital data, the concept of digital copyrights came into the picture. And with the beginning of the 21st century, the Idea of a torrent was introduced to the world in 2001. Soon to follow rose the question is torrenting illegal? And is torrenting illegal as a whole, or are there exceptions? All of this and more to be explained in this article.
How a Torrent Works
So let's begin by explaining what torrenting as a concept is. Torrenting is a way or form of file sharing. It was developed by computer science student Bram Cohen. He created the first peer-to-peer torrenting protocol and the first program to share torrents (the infamous BitTorrent).
Direct download of a file involves using one robust server where many users download the file from the same source. In comparison, The idea behind torrenting involves fragmenting a large file into small pieces (packets). The files' small chunks are then downloaded from multiple users (peers) with multiple ordinary devices with regular servers who already have the file on their device.
Torrent Legality Examples:
1. Public Domain Torrenting
Let's start with what exactly is the Public Domain. The public domain refers to content with no copyrights either because there was none, to begin with, there were mistakes in copyrights, or expired copyright with the lack of renewal.
Let's say, for example, if you want to download a film without copyright (e.g., Night of the living dead 1968). The download is 100% legal unless it contains copyrighted commentary in terms of torrent legality. This is known as Public Domain material (i.e., everyone has access to it, due to the lack of copyright protection).
Typically, in different areas of the world, copyrights for a material differ in length. For example, in the US, motion pictures have 95-year copyright protection.
To check if a US motion picture move has entered the public domain, you can use this formula: current year – 95 = movie production year. Any movie produced prior to the number in the previous formula would be public domain. (Eg. 2021-95= 1926).
An exception to this rule includes US governmental staff products, as those are public domain from the beginning. Products that were not renewed after their first term copyright protection ended also entered the public domain or products with copyright errors.
Downloading products with active copyright protection is torrenting illegal media.
Examples of a few public domain websites include:
These are a few examples of public domain torrent websites with legitimate torrents. If you have doubts on "is torrenting illegal when it comes to this media?". Using public domains helps you stay legal.
2. Large companies data transfer
Another example of legal torrenting includes large companies' internal data transfer. Twitter first implemented this to move their data internally much faster and with less load on their servers.
Soon to follow was Facebook using the same concept to move their data and update their servers more efficiently.
3. Video game companies clients and patching
Video game companies apply a real-life example of legal torrenting. Many launchers are basically torrenting clients in disguise.
When a new game patch is available, companies such as Blizzard entertainment (World Of Warcraft, StarCraft, Overwatch, etc.) or World of tanks (a free online game) utilize torrenting.
This happens by downloading the patch on a few devices providing seeding (upload) for others to download this data without overloading the companies' servers and limiting the speed.
4. File syncing torrent
The same way cloud-based syncing services work and provide storage space for your data and info like Google Drive and Dropbox, a torrent variant of file syncing exists.
With no limit on storage, it functions by torrenting your files between your devices (PC, Mobile, tablet) or between you and your coworkers for work-related documents.
An example of a P2P torrent syncing service would be Resilo.
When Is Torrenting Illegal?
The public question "is torrenting illegal ?" came into view with the rise of the acts of piracy. To define cyber-piracy, it is to download or duplicate a media with copyright protection without authorization.
Because the process of duplicating a digital material comes at barely any physical cost or hindrance to individuals, cyberpiracy became a severe issue. While not all countries impose bans on torrenting websites and torrenting client websites, many do.
So how does one get access to these websites?
The best way to by-pass geo-restrictions imposed by governments is by the use of a VPN.
While many free VPNs and extension VPNs can be used for that purpose, the use of a premium VPN service is better. Free VPN services aren't really charity; more often than not, there is some form of catch (logging data and selling it, ad spam, limited traffic).
Recommended VPNs When Torrenting
Due to ISP's (Internet Service Providers) monitoring traffic and blocking all torrent-related websites in many countries. The use of a VPN can prove handy for those who want to gain access and protect their privacy.
We at serveral.com offer you a few recommended options regarding torrents and VPNs for your privacy and safety. For a full review on torrenting and VPN, click here.
Our torrent VPN recommendations:
ExpressVPN provides it all. It is based in the British Virgin Islands (not a 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance member) with a strict no-logs policy. It has over 3000 servers spread over 160 locations in 94 countries.
ExpressVPN has a high encryption level (AES 256-bit military-grade encryption) and has a kill switch. Furthermore, some countries like China use a firewall (The Great Firewall of China) to prevent locals from using a VPN inside China; ExpressVPN is one of the few that can by-pass this geo-censorship.
ExpressVPN is one of the fastest, if not the fastest VPN out there. Making it very suitable for torrenting and even streaming. Its price is on the higher end of the VPN price spectrum, though.
NordVPN is a favorite for so many people. It is based in Panama (Not a 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance) with a strict no-logs policy. It has over 5400 servers spread over 59 countries worldwide.
NordVPN provides dedicated P2P servers to better facilitate torrenting download safely with high speed, making it very usable for torrenting. Provides high-end encryption level (AES 256-bit military-grade encryption).
NordVPN has “Obfuscated” servers for geo-censorship countries like China to by-pass the great firewall of China. Pricewise NordVPN is relatively lower than ExpressVPN, giving it an edge in this section.
Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands (not a 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance member) with a no-logs policy. Has over 3200 servers spread over 65+ countries. It provides 256-bit encryption. A kill switch and many of its servers are optimized for fast torrenting.
Relative to the two above though it is slower. Price-wise it is cost-efficient though. Surfshark is compatible with P2P clients like BitTorrent and uTorrent as well as streaming players.
To summarize, these are the best VPN Services in 2021…
- Great for streaming
- Stable server speeds
- 45-day money-back guarantee
Private Internet Access
- 10 Simultaneous connections
- Large server network
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Responsive customer support
- Reliable encryption
- Military-grade AES-256-bit encryption
- Built-in WireGuard protocol
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Military-grade AES-256-bit encryption
- No-log policy
- P2P optimized servers