What Happens If You Get Caught Torrenting?


What Happens If You Get Caught Torrenting?

As an internet user, have you ever heard of these terms – “Internet piracy” and “copyright infringement?” If yes, then you need to understand that torrenting is the technology that makes them possible. Torrenting is one of the most popular file-sharing protocols – it’s based on peer-to-peer (P2P) technology.

Although torrenting isn’t illegal, many people use the technology to upload and download copyrighted online content, which is an illegal act. Many people opt for “torrenting” because it offers tons of amazing benefits. However, since it can sometimes be used illegally, my question is – what happens if someone gets caught in the act?

First, you need to understand that torrenting can be used legally. An example is using it to share files. However, if used illegally and you get caught by law enforcers and Internet service providers, you’ll likely be sentenced to prison or charged to pay a fine.

As earlier mentioned, torrenting has its good side, meaning if you use it well, you’ll be safe from being punished. However, if you’ll be using it for illegal activities, my advice is that you stay away from getting caught by ISP.

In the rest of this post, I’ll further be discussing the punishment attached to getting caught torrenting illegally. In addition to that, you’ll also find out the different techniques of using the technology without getting caught by your ISP.

What Is Torrenting and How Does It Work?

As earlier mentioned, torrenting is a process of sharing files through the BitTorrent network. You need to understand that this approach is way different from the usual downloading and uploading of files from a single server.

Generally, when you need to download videos or movies from a website, all you need to do is click on the download link and your device will communicate with the Web server to initiate the download. That’s exactly how a normal downloading process works on our devices but it’s different from how torrenting functions.

How does torrenting work?

Torrenting is a technical process that involves sharing small chunks of files, also called packets. The process is divided into two different parts; leeching and seeding. Leeching is the process of downloading a torrent. However, seeding is the exact opposite – the process of uploading a file.

Furthermore, unlike the usual process of downloading a file from a single server, a torrent will ensure that the file is divided into smaller chunks or packets.

For instance, let’s say there’s a newly released movie that you need to download using torrent software. You’ll need to download small packets, which are often uploaded by the seeders in a Peer-to-Peer network. The packets will continue downloading until the entire movie is completely downloaded. However, as each of the packets downloads, the software will begin to share with other people interested in the file – this is leaching.

One interesting thing about the process is that the small packets you downloaded will keep track of the seeder and alternate exactly where they’re coming from

What Happens When You Get Caught Torrenting?

Now that you understand how torrenting works, let’s go back and address the burning question of this post. So, what exactly will happen to you if caught torrenting?

There are two different answers to this question. The first one is that nothing will happen if you end up being caught torrenting legally. You still don’t understand what I mean? What I’m trying to say is that it’s not all torrenting activities that are tagged illegal.

Generally speaking, torrenting is legal and involves sharing files using P2P technology. However, once the activities you perform during the correcting process involve downloading or uploading copyrighted content, then it’s illegal.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, torrenting or downloading copyrighted files without permission is pretty much illegal and considered a serious offense.

That said, you can check below to see some of the things that you should expect when you get caught torrenting. Of course, that also depends on your country of residence.

  1. Terminated internet connection

In some countries, especially the US, if caught torrenting illegally by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), one of the punishments is that your internet connection will get terminated.

  1. Warning letter

You may get a warning letter from your ISP or local law enforcement agencies when caught torrenting illegally. Of course, this process is to first keep you aware of your copyright infringement.  

  1. Pay a fine

You may be charged to pay a fine if caught torrenting illegally. In most countries, the fine is usually huge; it could cost you up to $150,000 per file.

  1. Go to jail

In most countries, you won’t get sentenced to prison immediately after getting caught downloading and uploading copyrighted files. The punishment could only be that you must pay a fine, as earlier stated. However, failure to pay the fine and charges at the right time may eventually lead to up to 5 years imprisonment.

How Can You Get Caught Torrenting and Solution

There are many ways that one can get caught during a torrenting process. Check out some of them below:

  • Not using VPN

First, when you download a torrent without using a secure VPN, you can get caught. 

Reliable VPNs, such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN, tend to keep your identity hidden. Apart from that, you can also use them to keep your IP address hidden. 

So, without your IP address and your identity, it becomes very difficult for your ISP to determine whether or not you’re torrenting.

  • Disabling your VPN’s kill switch

Even with the best and reliable VPN software, you can still get caught if care is not taken. This only happens in rare cases, especially if your VPN connection drops and you don’t have your kill switch enabled.

So, I’ll advise that you opt for a secure VPN with the kill switch feature. In addition to that, ensure you always have the feature enabled every time you’re doing anything illegal, such as torrenting.

Mark Lewis

Security nerd with a Data Privacy First mindset!

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