Most people have heard about the concept of internet piracy, where individuals can get access to copyrighted material without paying for it. There are many ways to access copyrighted material. Some of it is available directly on websites, while other people use torrenting to access said material. But what is torrenting and how does it work?

How Torrenting Works

The inherent process and structures of torrenting are not illegal. In fact, it is a very legitimate and useful process of sharing files across many users. The idea behind torrenting is that instead of downloading something from a central location, it is shared by every user that has downloaded the file.

When someone new wants to download a torrent, they are downloading the file from the people who are sharing it online. There is no file on a single server, which is downloaded in one go. Users are downloading packets of data that end up making a big file. And they are downloading those packets from many users.

Torrent Terminology

The .torrent file that a user downloads is not the file they want to obtain. It will simply allow them to open up the torrent in a torrent program, which is used by people to both download and share content. When the file is loaded onto the program, the user is accessing various torrent trackers where users are sharing the file.

The downloader of a file is known as the leecher, while the people who are sharing the file for download are the seeders. Every file requires seeders for it to be downloadable. If a file has three seeders but they are all offline, it will not be possible for someone to download the file online.

Is Torrenting Illegal?

The act of torrenting is not illegal. There is nothing about sharing a file that someone owns with other people, provided they have the rights to share that file. For instance, if someone writes up a presentation and want to share it with colleagues, they could use a torrenting network to get them all to download the file.

But the issue with torrenting is that many people use it to upload and then share copyrighted material online, such as movies, television show episodes, books, music, games and other content. Such content is not legally downloadable without permission from the rights holder, which is what can make that type of torrenting against the law in many countries.

What Happens If Someone is Caught Torrenting?

The consequences of torrenting material that a person does not have right to access will depend on where that person lives. In nations such as the United States, media companies actively monitor torrent trackers to try and catch people who are illegally downloading movie, television show, book and game files.

If someone is caught, they are typically sent a letter by their Internet Service Provider asking them to delete said material and not do it again. If they get another strike, they may lose their internet service.

And there are rare instances of people being taken to court for sharing and/or downloading copyrighted material. But those cases are few and far between, which is why millions around the world still torrent!

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