Rhodri Marsden: Cyberclinic
I'm addicted to downloading stuff via BitTorrent. Will I be prosecuted?
Monday 01 May 2006
I've become addicted to BitTorrent, and use it regularly for downloading movies, TV shows, comics, music and software. Am I likely to be prosecuted?
This anonymous question provoked a number of comments from BitTorrent users wishing to remain similarly anonymous; they, at least, are aware of its dubious legality. BitTorrent, for those with squeaky-clean internet habits, is an internet protocol that's particularly suited to sharing hefty files such as videos and albums. "I keep telling myself that there are millions of others doing it," writes one reader, "but I don't imagine that nothing is being done about it." He's right on both counts.
"Although downloading copyrighted material is a breach of the law," explains Simon Baggs at media law specialists Wiggin & Co, "uploading is a bigger issue for copyright owners, because it makes that file available to thousands of people." And those who use BitTorrent are exposed to legal challenges, as they're all responsible for the distribution process. Once you've searched on a BitTorrent website for, say, a film, downloaded the small "torrent" file and launched it, you're immediately connected to everyone who is downloading the same thing. Your collective uploading and downloading power is then harnessed for its distribution. "And what makes BitTorrent so fast," writes another reader, "is that you can't choose not to share [or upload] that file." The majority of users download copyrighted material with the mere defence of safety in numbers - or maintain that downloading US TV shows that haven't been broadcast here yet isn't illegal. (It is.)
There are two consequences of copyright infringement: one is civil - you can be sued - and then there's criminal liability for breaking copyright law. How would you be tracked down? Most BitTorrent software displays the IP addresses of fellow file-sharers, and some copyright owners have started to monitor these by themselves becoming BitTorrent users. And as another reader comments: "Once they have IP addresses, it's easy to obtain a court order revealing names and addresses." Simon Baggs says: "Each time you do it - just as with shoplifting - you're taking a calculated risk. The chances of your getting caught are not high, but it could be you."
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
Spain accused of 'provocation' after letting Russian submarine refuel off Gibraltar
Allonautilus scrobiculatus: World's 'rarest' creature spotted for only the third time ever
Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...