Are torrents illegal?

File sharing has changed dramatically over the past few years. Not least because of the numerous warning waves against users of file-sharing networks. But is the use of torrents in the context of a swap meet illegal at all? We clarify what you have to look out for when using torrents and what penalties can be imposed.

A P2P application, also known as a file-sharing exchange, is quickly installed and used. But only a few users actually take care of the legal aspects behind the use. The use of a P2P exchange can be problematic.

What are torrents?

Torrents are small files that can be compared to a shopping list. The torrent files contain all the relevant information that leads to the download of a large file, such as a video. Torrent files are used by BitTorrent file sharing networks.

With the help of the torrent file you can generate the download. The torrent file itself acts as a guide, bringing together all the relevant parts of the file that is actually to be downloaded.

Do torrents always lead to the correct files?

Files can be named freely. Therefore, torrents are problematic, although these path files themselves are not illegal. However, it is possible that a torrent file should lead to a freely available image according to the file name. In reality, however, the download contains a copyrighted film work.

Can torrents be used legally?

Of course, you can use torrents to download or distribute free files yourself without any problems. However, you need to make sure that you really have the permission to do what you want with the file, so it can’t be a copyrighted work.

How do you track users of torrents?

Users of BitTorrent file-sharing services are not anonymous. After all, the individual files have to reach your PC. Private investigators and law enforcement agencies can also use this method to collect your IP address easily and even fully automatically. Nothing else is already the case, if you think here for instance of the warning waves of the past years.

The IP address is an easy game for private investigators and law enforcement agencies to finally get to your connection data and prosecute you.

What penalties are in force?

  • This depends on what crime you committed and whether you distributed the file or just downloaded it. As a rule, however, you also automatically upload files in file-sharing networks, so that there is always room for distribution.
  • Criminally, the risks of copyright infringement are rather low. Only a few public prosecutors will issue an order of punishment for a downloaded and distributed MP3 file. In the case of a large number of files, you are threatened with a fine or imprisonment.
  • On the other hand, the civil law steps can be much more extensive. From warnings to claims for damages, the portfolio of legal options is extremely extensive and costly.

Is it necessary to be afraid because of the upload?

In many cases the upload is the critical point. Because here nothing else happens than the distribution of the work. So you offer the work to many users. The damage is calculated on the basis of the license analogy. A pure download, on the other hand, is less problematic because the calculated damage only occurs once – through your download. Sometimes also a reason for the fact that there are no warnings for Downloads. Here we are always talking about uploading.

If you use torrents to exchange files via BitTorrent, you usually distribute these files. So you become an uploader, with all the resulting risks. Provided, of course, that you distribute copyrighted content.

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