You have probably heard of internet piracy before, and if you were watching movies in the early 2000s, you probably also remember that one really cheesy anti-piracy ad that played before every movie. You likely know about something called copyright infringement, and perhaps you’ve even been informed that torrenting is part of either of these processes. The following aims to dispel common notions about torrenting as well as explore what torrenting is and how you can do it safely.
What Is Torrenting?
Torrenting is best explained when comparing it to the standard process of downloading a file. A torrent breaks up a bigger file and divides it into several smaller files. In standard downloading, you’re downloading a file from one server, whereas when you use torrenting software, you’re connected to a bunch of other computers using peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing. Basically, you’re able to download small pieces of a file from each computer in the P2P network.
Prior to the advent of P2P torrent networks, copyrighted files were kept on a single server. This made it easy for government institutions and other organizations to trace downloads and shut down the websites that were hosting the downloads. Since peer-to-peer decentralizes the storage of files, it’s very difficult for authorities to find and end file-sharing as there isn’t a single server that’s holding the files.
Data Rights And Privacy
If the lack of traceability is your primary draw towards torrenting, there are a few extra measures you can take to keep yourself private online. One of the biggest is using a VPN service. This can help keep your online activity more anonymous. Just be sure to do your research and select a VPN provider that exists in a country where government observation of citizens is a major concern (these are often not the countries you are expecting), and a provider that doesn’t store anything on-site should the local government decide it wants to access. If you have multiple devices, you probably want to seek out a VPN plan that covers all your devices.
Is Torrenting Illegal?
The answer is that it’s complicated. Torrenting is, by definition, file sharing and so not inherently illegal. However, sharing unsanctioned copyrighted material or downloading it is illegal. This makes it difficult to categorize torrenting as there are tons of non-copyrighted materials that are available on torrent networks.
Of course, torrenting laws are different in different countries. To safely torrent, it’s always a good idea to research the specific laws where you’re located. The safe way to torrent in Germany is going to differ from the safe way to torrent in Mongolia. Be sure to follow localized guidelines to ensure that you’re working with your country’s legal system in mind.
How Does Torrenting Work?
In the world of torrenting, there are two key concepts you need to understand. The first is leeching. Leeching refers to the act of downloading a file. The second is seeding. Seeding is the act of downloading while simultaneously uploading the packets that you already have downloading. This allows other people to leech or seed as well.
Is Torrenting Safe?
There are two ways to answer this question. The first has to do with legality, and this is addressed above; in some files, it’s legal to torrent, and in other files it is illegal. The act of torrenting itself isn’t illegal in most countries.
The second answer pertains to the safety of your device. When downloading anything, there is the risk of malware. Malware can damage your devices, crash your computer, steal your personal information, or spy on your digital activities. To reduce this risk, it’s always a good idea to read the comments and reviews on a particular torrent before downloading it. If the comments are favorable, it would seem that many people downloaded the file without any issues. Of course, many torrent sites also contain a symbol that marks uploaders as trusted sources, and you can use this to help you make your download selections.
The above information should have clarified your torrenting questions. Again, it’s vital that you understand that laws regarding the digital realm vary from country to country. They’re also changing regularly, as many nations are only just beginning to police online behavior. If you’re ever unsure about the legality of your actions and want to avoid any trouble, stop and do some research. One of the most wonderful things about the internet is how much information is available to you in a short period of time.