The BitTorrent network and other filesharing services enjoy worldwide popularity among users. However, torrenting remains a confusing activity for most of the world’s legal systems. Hence, there is no standard regulation, and figuring out what to make of the network, its contents, and its users remains a local issue for each country to solve. Nonetheless, some privacy-friendly regions haven’t yet adopted any harsh policies against torrenting, subsequently becoming the safest countries for torrenting.
In general, the possible laws that would apply to P2P sharing networks are intimately linked with the regulations that govern the exchange of copyrighted material. And this is a gray area at the international level. So, for example, some jurisdictions allow downloading any content as long as it’s for personal use only. However, on the opposite side of the spectrum, some countries actively pursue and punish such activity severely.
So what are you to make of P2P networks? This article will tell you about the legal status of BitTorrent, how to take advantage of the best information available on the subject, and the safe country for those who love to download torrents.
Disclaimer: Neither the author of this text nor the owners of Privacysavvy.com endorse, encourage or condone the distribution of copyrighted material in any jurisdiction, even when it’s legal. This article aims to be informational. Using BitTorrent software is lawful, but piracy is a criminal activity in many countries. Please ensure that you use any P2P network responsibly.
This article does not offer legal advice because we do not purport to be legal experts. Instead, we are proposing the current understanding of filesharing legislation in some jurisdictions. Our interpretation of a country’s legal issues may not align precisely with its most specific statutes, which could also differ from the understanding of a judge.
The information we offer you is a starting point, so don’t hesitate to do your own research. Keep your downloads strictly legal within your jurisdiction. And always use a VPN.
An overview of the legality of BitTorrent and other P2P networks
Let’s start by clarifying our concepts.
First, BitTorrent is a filesharing protocol. As such, it’s neutral. It’s no more of a piracy tool than any other digital technology such as web browsers, mp3 players, USB thumb drives, etc. Instead, BitTorrent is a piece of technology permitted in numerous P2P legal countries. And torrents from legal sources are permitted as well.
The internet took the world’s legal systems by surprise, and they have been exceedingly slow (sometimes incompetent) to keep up with the times. The prevailing copyright laws (where they exist) are outdated, meant to protect intellectual property in a world without computers or the internet. These archaic regulations are slowly being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. It’s a sloppy process that often condemns filesharing users with no intentions to criminalize or profit from their activities. Instead, these laws are evolving to accommodate entrenched corporate interests within a digital environment where filesharing technologies are always moving forward.
Even in those jurisdictions where the internet is relatively new, or those with little or no copyright legislation, they are now trying to update their laws. It often comes as an imposition of international trading agreements.
Information is power
Let’s say that your domestic jurisdiction is not overly friendly towards torrenting. However, the geo-switching advantages inherent to VPNs will still allow you to download torrents from a torrent-friendly territory. If you’re not conversant with VPNs, we have several articles devoted to them you can read to educate yourself.
We sincerely hope you will limit your torrenting activities to legal torrent files. We’re not joking; plenty of legal material can be pretty interesting. However, even in the perfectly legal scenario, countries like the UK and the US will put you in the same bag as pirates and attempt to thwart your torrenting abilities.
For instance, many major US ISPs will throttle your bandwidth as soon as they realize it’s from the BitTorrent network. They won’t care if you’re keeping all your downloads legal.
In the UK, many of the best torrent sites are blocked as if their contents were exclusively illegal.
So how can you keep your ability to use the BitTorrent network untouched? By using a VPN.
VPNs will allow you to do your filesharing through servers in torrent-friendly jurisdictions. That will give you many advantages:
- Your ISP (or any other third party) will become unable to monitor your traffic.
- Avoid bandwidth throttling. If your ISP can’t tell what you’re doing, it can’t throttle your account.
- Download your content from computers in a jurisdiction that doesn’t monitor VPN traffic.
- All your traffic remains encrypted.
- Use IP spoofing to unblock torrent sites that are firewalled or geo-blocked.
So, as you can see, all roads lead to Rome. And when in Rome, do what the Romans do. Or, in plain English, get a good torrenting VPN service if you use the BitTorrent network. In some countries, it will be a helpful addition to your digital life; in others, protecting your security and anonymity will be essential.
The best (safest) countries for torrenting
Some jurisdictions see file sharing in a friendly way. They are very few around the world, but they’re there. They allow every citizen to download and keep all kinds of copyrighted material as long as it’s for personal use, and they don’t try to turn a profit from it. In these territories, the ISPs don’t care if you use your account for torrenting and don’t punish it by throttling.