Category: News

Streaming with Torrents: Legal or illegal?

First Popcorn Time, now Torrents Time and comparable apps: You can access a huge selection of TV series and films via streaming – user-friendly and in good quality. Unlike Amazon, Apple, Hulu or Netflix, for example, the offer is free of charge. Too good to be true?

How does this matter judge itself from a legal point of view, in particular what are the consequences, possibilities or opportunities for the interested reader and what conclusion does the author reach from a personal point of view? Find out more!

Streaming by means of file sharing

For streaming, Torrents Time uses the BitTorrent protocol for file sharing and also works as a plugin directly in the browser. For streaming, it is therefore necessary that there are enough users who not only download content, but also upload it again, at least in part. Apps like Torrents Time hide this upload, but it still takes place.

  • File sharing – including uploading content – is generally permitted in Switzerland.
  • The prerequisite for this is that the shared content is not illegal.
  • In particular, the consumption, storage and distribution of child pornography are prohibited (Art. 197 para. 5 StGB).

Copyright limits

However, copyright law also sets limits: as soon as content is protected by copyright, it may only be publicly shared with the consent of the corresponding author or rights holder (Art. 10 URG). Most television series and films are works in the copyright sense (Art. 2 para. 1 and 2 URG), so that legal file sharing is not possible.

An exception exists insofar as the exclusive downloading of copyrighted content for personal use is lawful. For consumers, private use “in the personal sphere and among persons who are closely connected among themselves” is particularly relevant – this includes, for example, friends and relatives (Art. 19 para. 1 lit.a URG). Anyone who deactivates uploading during file sharing or streaming and restricts himself to consumption does not violate Swiss copyright law.

Anyone caught sharing files illegally using Torrents Time can be punished for copyright infringements (Art. 67 et seq. URG) and must reckon with claims for damages.

An example

Student Peter uses Torrents Time and enjoys the large offer. Streaming via Torrents Time was offered to him by a well-known file-sharing website and runs in his browser. With a VPN provider that was recommended to him by the same website, Peter has taken out a subscription for anonymization.

After a few months, Peter is awakened rudely by the police in the early morning, The police search Peter’s house and his computer and smartphone are also seized. Later, the police found out that Torrents Time had actually been used on a computer and provided the prosecutor’s office with a list of shared content, including well-known films from “Hollywood”.

Half a year later, the public prosecutor’s office sentences Peter to a conditional fine totalling CHF 4,500.00 with a probationary period of two years for copyright infringements. Peter must also pay a fine of 800 francs and assume the procedural costs of CHF 1,800.00. The criminal proceedings lead to an entry in the criminal record. The recovered computer is destroyed and disposed of. Since Peter lives in modest financial circumstances, no claims for damages are made.

The use of Torrents Time and similar apps is tempting

If content uploading is not deactivated – illegal. Consumers should therefore refrain from using such apps in their own interest. Another problem is that such apps are often plagued by security gaps. Visiting file-sharing websites can also be dangerous, as they often form a playground for harmful software and dubious advertising.

At the same time, the American entertainment industry is also challenged: It continues to refuse to satisfy the high demand for its content. From a legal point of view, however, this market failure cannot justify copyright infringements. After all, there is hope that the model of the music industry will have an effect, as attractive streaming services for music are now available to consumers who are willing to pay without any doubt as to their legality.

Whoever uses torrents time and comparable apps for streaming can be punished for copyright infringements and must reckon with claims for damages. The uploading of content, which could at best prevent an infringement of the law, can be a serious problem.

What is a BitTorrent?

More than a third of German online data traffic takes place via the BitTorrent protocol. Dubious websites use it to illegally distribute protected content, getting their users into trouble.

As a rule, only two parties are involved in an ordinary Internet download. For example, if a user wants to download an e-mail attachment, the server responsible sends the respective files directly to the target computer. File transfers based on the so-called BitTorrent protocol take place according to a completely different principle.

In order to receive a file via BitTorrent, special software must be installed. Just as different browsers can be used to receive ordinary web pages (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, etc.), different BitTorrent clients exist for torrent downloads. When downloading with these programs, requested files from a network of countless other computers are collected bit by bit and finally connected to a whole.

Even during the download process, the computer itself becomes part of the so-called peer-to-peer network and distributes the data to other members of the network.

Dubious websites often rely on BitTorrent

In practice, Internet users often come into contact with BitTorrent offers when they are looking for free offers for films, series or music, for example. A number of dubious websites advertise with free downloads of content for which you have to pay elsewhere. The portals provide links to the BitTorrent network in the form of files of a few kilobytes in size. If you open these so-called torrent files, the upload and download process starts via the installed client.

Very few Internet users know what kind of risk they run when using such downloads

  • Because an essential prerequisite for the functionality of a peer-to-peer network is mutual transparency. Each member of the network can see which computer under which IP address is involved in the distribution of certain data.
  • If, for example, an inexperienced user downloads a current Hollywood film, he simultaneously distributes the data to the public during the download and makes illegal copies of the content in front of everyone’s eyes in accordance with German copyright law. Representatives of the industry also know this.
  • Popular torrent files are often monitored by special law firms, which can obtain the identity of the responsible subscriber by court order.

In the rarest cases such a case ends up in court in Germany

Anyway, ordinary downloaders do not have to fear criminal consequences. However, the lawyers generally demand payment of damages and the signing of a cease-and-desist declaration. If you are the recipient of such a letter, the only way to ensure absolute security is to go to the lawyer. Because the claims of the industry are not always actually justified.

The safest way to protect yourself from expensive claims is of course to avoid torrents, the content of which is obviously distributed without the author’s permission. By using concealment tactics such as proxies or virtual personal networks (VPN), your own IP address can be protected from unauthorized access when connecting to the BitTorrent network. However, the distribution of illegal copies is of course still a violation of the law. Special care should be taken with questionable streaming software such as Popcorn Time. At first glance, this software looks like a clear media player. Under the hood, however, is nothing more than an ordinary BitTorrent client which, when receiving a film, publicly transmits data and thus endangers the user.

How to download torrent videos to iPad, iPod, iPhone, etc.

This article contains three parts

  • Part 1: What is Torrent?
  • Part 2: How to download torrent files to your computer?
  • Part 3: How to transfer torrent videos to iPad, iPod, iPhone, PSP, etc.?
  • Part 4: Top Torrent sites and iPod Torrent sites.

What is Torrent?

Torrent is a file format with the extension .torrent, which contains all important information for downloading a torrent file. Torrent is a widespread format that is often used on the Internet. It is especially suitable for downloading movies.

How to download torrent files to your computer?

Downloading with Torrent is actually very easy. All you need is a torrent client. Then you can open the torrent file in your client and specify the location of the desired file and then wait until the file is downloaded.

Here are some free torrent clients:

A BitTorrent client is a program that manages torrent downloads and uploads using the BitTorrent protocol. BitTorrent is the worldwide standard for accessing many media on the Internet. It supports Windows, Mac and Linux.

BitTorrent Ports Tip for accelerating the client:

Torrent (uTorrent) is a free BitTorrent client for Microsoft Windows written in C++ and localized for many different languages. It is designed to use minimal computer resources, while providing comparable functionality to larger BitTorrent clients such as Azureus or BitComet. The program received consistently good reviews for its feature set, performance, stability and support for older hardware and Windows versions (for Wine, Windows 95 (Winsock2), 98/ME, NT/2000, XP, 2003 and Vista).

BitLet 3 : This is a web-based torrent client that can download a torrent file for you if you provide a torrent URL. The obvious advantages of this are:

  1. If you are using a computer that does not have a torrent client.
  2. You can redirect your friends, who also have problems with Torrent, to this website so that they can download these files in the future.
  3. You can use it in places (work, school) where p2p and/or torrent clients are blocked.

Note: BitLet requires that you have the Java VM plugin installed in your browser.

How to transfer torrent videos to iPad, iPod, iPhone, PSP, etc.?

After downloading the torrent (video, song), you may need to use WinRar or WinZip. You will need to install this on older devices first. You don’t need to convert the torrent videos you download from iPod torrent sites. You can transfer them to your iPod using iTunes.

If the videos are not in an iPad, iPod, iPhone, Zune or other player compatible format, you will need to convert them. You need to download the best video converter that works perfectly for almost all popular video players such as iPad, iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, PSP, PS3, YouTube (web), various video phones and many other digitial video and audio players. Install and use the Video Converter to convert the torrent videos. After the conversion you can enjoy the torrent videos on your iPad, iPod, iPhone and more.

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.

How torrents work

Unlike HTTP or FTP downloads, Bit Torrent does not transfer the file from one source to the PC. Rather, it comes from different users who participate in the individual network for the respective file. Not even the entire file has to be on the computer. It is sufficient if the user has a fragment which he passes on to other users who may already have other parts.

The chance of getting all parts of a program together is therefore greater than with other exchange systems, where only owners of the complete file also pass these on.

Unique identity:

Bit Torrent exchanges files in a networked environment. One or more vendors make a file available for download, and Bit Torrent clients then download the file to your PC. Torrent technology generates a control file (.torrent) a few KB in size for each file provided. This metafile contains a unique ID (hash) with information about the file itself and the download address. The download sources are hosted by a so-called tracker.

  • It makes it possible for a client to find the respective data file in the first place.
  • In the first step, the torrent file is loaded from a homepage via a web browser and then opened with a torrent client.
  • Only then does the download of the actual data file start.
  • The sources are differentiated between “Peer” and “Seed”.
  • A client is a peer if it is still loading the data file.
  • Seeds are users who have already completely loaded the data file specified in the torrent and only offer it as a source for the peers.
  • At least one seed is required to complete the transfer successfully.

As fast as a download manager:

After you have downloaded parts of an archive yourself, these parts are also distributed to other Bit Torrent users. The more peers help with the distribution, the faster the download will be. The transfer principle is similar to a download manager. First, the client creates a local file, which is then composed of different individual file segments (chunks). Because the tracker knows the active sources, the Bit Torrent client does not have to constantly search for new sources and thus reaches much higher speeds than are possible with conventional file-sharing networks, for example. There is no search function in the torrent network. The client only knows the sources that are listed in the torrent file or known to the listed sources.