what is torrenting

What Is Torrenting (It’s All About Downloading)

Everybody loves to share data with their friends and family whether it is some pictures, videos, music, and anything of interest. However, as pleasing it sounds, it becomes a cumbersome work to upload the data to a cloud storage then share links with your friends, and the larger your data is, the more frustrating it gets.

What if there is a way through which you could share your data instantly via computers and mobile devices, just like you do while chatting on messaging apps?

The answer is Yes! You can share your large data directly from your device via Torrenting. So, what is torrenting? And how does it work? Let us explain you in parts.

What Is Torrenting

Torrenting refers to sharing data through a torrent file. A torrent file is a very small computer file and comprises of following things: footprints of your data that you want to share, and a list of network locations of trackers. A torrent file is created via the BitTorrent client, which manages the entire process of torrenting at your end. After a torrent file is created; you can share it with your friends and host the file for them without needing any cloud storage server.

What is BitTorrent Client, BitTorrent Communication Protocol, And BitTorrent Tracker?

The BitTorrent Client is a download manager for torrent files. It implements and communicates via the BitTorrent Communication Protocol with a BitTorrent network locations Tracker (these are computers which help participants in the system find each other and form efficient distribution groups called swarms – these computers only help in communication and does not transfer data). There are also tracker-less methods available such as DHT, and Multi-trackers such as PEX, but let us keep it simple. The famous example of BitTorrent files indexes and trackers include ThePirateBay and KickAss Torrents.

In a simple sense, the data is divided into small parts, and each person (peer) shares small parts of that data with other people (peers) so that everybody could have the complete data file in the end. Thus, torrenting is also referred to as (Peer-To-Peer) P2P File Sharing.

How Does Torrenting Works?

When you create or download a torrent file and open it in a BitTorrent client, it communicates with the BitTorrent Tracker via BitTorrent Protocol. The tracker sends the information of pool of peers, the location of pieces of files, the number of pieces, seeders (who downloads/uploads simultaneously), leechers (who only downloads), and other communication stuff. Once a pool is a setup, your BitTorrent clients start sharing the file in the pool. However, in doing so, it exposes your IP address and your location to other peers.

Copyright holders can take these IP addresses and locate your ISPs and file a complaint against you to stop you from further torrenting. How do they do so? Usually through a method “Torrent Poisoning.” It is a process in which copyright holders share a corrupt torrent file which appears as a legit file and takes all the IP addresses which start to share that file and send them notices. 

Is Torrenting Legal? Or Is It Illegal?

Torrenting itself is not illegal. It depends on the use, which questions its actions.

Legal uses

  • Free Distribution: Copyright holders may allow free distribution of their work. Such as open-source software Ubuntu, and Linux.
  • Public Domain: (Works in public domain are those whose rights have expired, forfeited, or are inapplicable). For example, Project Gutenberg collects and publishes classical cultural work after their expiration date has expired.
  • Fair Use: Some countries have a fair use provision in copyright law, which allows people to use a certain class of copyrighted material without breaching the law. An example of fair use includes news reporting, criticism, parody, search engines, commentary, scholarship, and research.

Illegal uses
Sharing any data who’s distribution is not allowed by the copyright holders falls under the category of illegal use. For example, sharing a copyrighted movies, music, documents, software, etc.

Legal Issues Related To Torrenting

Warning Letters For Legal Actions

Once a copyright holder tracks your IP address, it can send a formal complaint to your Internet service provider for potential legal actions. Your ISPs, in turn, sends you warning letters on their behalf to prevent you from carrying such activities. If you continue to ignore these warning and infringe the copyrights, the action might be taken against you by taking you to civil court (in theory) and asked for compensation claims (damages).

Speculative Invoicing Threats

As proving in courts of copyright infringements via torrenting is difficult, such convictions takes time and costly. So, copyright owners take the services of ‘Copyright Trolls.’ These are the legal firms that have specializations of monetizing piracy cases through ‘speculative invoicing’ method i.e. threatening the alleged pirate (who does illegal downloading via torrents) with legal lawsuits if they do not agree to pay reduced cash settlements outside of courts. Here is the complete guide of: how to download torrents anonymously

If you find yourself in such situations, it is recommended to read the U.K’s Official Guide related to copyright infringement that is useful for both Europe and North America.

How Does A VPN Protect You From Legal Troubles?

VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a software application that offers remote private networking capability either by individuals or by dedicated VPN services that have a network of servers across the globe. VPN hides your IP address and location to protect your online identity. It also encrypts your internet traffic in such a way that it is unreadable for unauthorized entities such as internet service providers (ISP), governments, hackers, and copyright holders.

Both of these features help while torrenting in two ways. First, it hides your IP address and location from the pool of peers while you starts sharing the file. Second, it encrypts your torrenting traffic, so your ISPs doesn’t know what you are sharing. Thereby, saving you from all the legal troubles that may arise while torrenting.

Conclusion

While torrenting is not illegal, sharing copyrighted material is. If you are sharing videos, music, documents and other content, it is necessary to use a VPN for torrenting to circumvent the legal troubles, and meanwhile, it enhances your security and privacy.

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