is downloading movies illegal

FactFind: Is it actually a crime to download movies without paying? After a court ruling this week, we were asked to find out the facts. SINCE THE EARLY days of widespread internet use, there’s been an ongoing battle between media companies attempting to protect their copyright and users trying to access entertainment without paying. Piracy is nothing new; trailers on videos telling us about dodgy sound and picture are lodged in our memory but those problems were nothing on the scale of today;s. The internet brought things to a whole new level and it’s fair to say that file-sharing sites like Napster transformed the industry. Despite this, illegal downloading is perhaps more pervasive than ever and media companies are constantly attempting new legal avenues to stop piracy. This week, some of the world’s biggest TV and movie studios were in the Irish courts in an attempt to cut down on streaming, successfully securing injunctions to block access to several websites. In the fallout from that decision, one of our commenters wanted to know if downloaders themselves were breaking laws. OU812 said they’d been told by an official body that it’s not actually a crime to download or watch a stream but that “actually uploading, seeding and streaming up” was. So we set about taking a look? Source: DPA/PA Images. The facts. To get some legal advice on the illegality or otherwise of downloading, we spoke to Eoin O’Dell, TCD law lecture and expert in the area of copyright. Asked the question that was posed directly by the commenter, O’Dell said the word ‘crime’, while not inaccurate, is somewhat ambiguous. He said that copyright infringement is most certainly illegal and may have both civil and criminal consequences, but that it is more often dealt with as a civil matter. In large part because this is seen as the most effective remedy for those whose copyright has been breached. That’s what happened this week when the film and TV studios secured an injunction against Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to the streaming sites. But just because media companies haven’t been targeting individual internet users, it doesn’t mean what they’re doing isn’t illegal. Or that they couldn’t be targeted either. “As a matter of practice, they have been going after the obvious middle-men because they are easier to get an injunction against, but that’s not to say they can’t get injunctions against the actual infingers, the uploaders or downloaders,” O’Dell says. Source: Niall Carson/PA Images. Downloading copyrighted material is itself illegal and the subsequent sharing, uploading or seeding of such material could be construed as further breaches of copyright. This further distribution applies to all the is downloading movies illegal methods of infringement, not just online, O’Dell says. “If I download something without permission or without paying, then yes that can still be an infringement of copyright.” Streaming. Whereas the previous wave of anti-piracy lawsuits focused on file-sharing sites like the Pirate Bay, the current wave is very much against streaming services. Media companies have been routinely successful in closing down many of these sites but it is less clear what could be the consequences for users. What people mightn’t realise is that by streaming illegal content, a user’s computer is still making a copy of it, even if that copy is temporary in nature and stored on the computer’s cache. So the fact that the computer is making a temporary stream would suggest that users are breaching copyright. There is some debate about this, however. A 2014 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union held that streaming may be considered be exempt from such infringements as copies held in the cache of a computer are “transient or incidental in nature” and “an integral and essential part of a technological process”. Overall, what does seem certain is that media companies are unlikely to start suing individuals for downloading or streaming anytime soon. is downloading movies illegal That doesn’t mean however that users aren’t breaking any laws or that they couldn’t face any repercussions. As with our friend in the clip above buying dodgy videos from a market, there are always risks associated with piracy. Illegal Downloading & File Sharing. Downloading Without Paying: Why is it illegal? When a movie or song is produced and marketed, everyone involved in the process has monetary gains from the sale of that product. Therefore, that product is protected by copyright law so that it cannot be copied, reproduced or resold without their permission. If you did not pay for a song, movie or other media file that has a copyright, then downloading that file is a crime. Likewise, distributing a copyrighted media file, whether via electronic or non-electronic methods, without the express permission of the copyright holder is also illegal. Who's Watching? The two primary groups that police the downloading of music and movies are the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). These two groups constantly monitor downloads and websites for copyright violation. They tend to pay close attention to colleges and universities. When they see that a song or movie has been is downloading movies illegal downloaded illegally, they notify the school who then takes steps to internally identify the person who downloaded the file. There can be serious legal and financial ramifications to illegal downloading. At Webster, Information Technology (IT) receives infringement notifications from the RIAA or MPAA. IT immediately makes a copy of the logs which enables activity to be traced back to a specific Internet port. Each port is associated with a person. Once the person has been identified, the information is turned over to the governing body for that individual (such as the Dean or Associate Dean of Students if the person lives on campus) for disciplinary actions. Consequences of Illegal Downloading. Legal & Monetary. Most of us don't have over half a million dollars lying around the house. But, if you download files which you have not paid for or share files without the permission of the copyright holder, you just might have to pay that much. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, distribution of copyright materials is is downloading movies illegal punishable by law. Those found guilty of copyright infringement may face the following penalties: Up to five years in jail Fines and charges of up to $150,000 per file In addition to any other charges that might be brought against you, the copyright holder can file suit, which can result in legal fees and damages that must be paid. Recent cases have resulted in judgments against the person distributing the files for up to $80,000 per file. Here are some examples: "A federal jury on Friday concluded that a 25-year-old college student must pay $675,000 — or $22,500 for each of the 30 songs he was found liable of infringing" (Wired.com). In Minnesota, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a single mother, was fined $80,000 for each of 24 songs, resulting in a total of $1,920,000, almost 2 million dollars. Viruses & Spyware. Illegal downloading places your computer at high risk of receiving viruses. Most illegal downloading is done through Peer-to-Peer (P2P) software, which allows people to share their files with others. Since you have no idea where you are getting the files from, you have no way of knowing if they are infected with viruses or spyware.В Downloading infected files to your computer could result in loss of data, excessive pop ups, slow Internet connection and possible identity theft.В An active anti-virus software will not always protect you from viruses obtains through P2P software. How to Prevent Illegal Downloading & Sharing. Most Peer-to-Peer (P2P) software (see examples below) has file-sharing features that are turned on by default making any song or movie files on your computer available to others for download. In effect, you are distributing copyright materials without even knowing it. Know what software you have on your computer and how it works. Turn off any file-sharing options. If you have a wireless router setup in your dorm room or apartment, be sure to setup security, including a good password. Only give that password to people you trust. If someone connects to your wireless router and downloads or shares files illegally, that activity will be traced back to you and you will be held liable. If you are a student living on the Webster Groves campus, you can take your computer, for free, to the ResTech office, and they will help you remove or disable any file sharing software that might be on your computer. Is Torrenting Illegal? The Definitive Answer. T orrenting is a massively popular method to download the latest movies, TV series, music, books, games – you name it. The popularity of torrenting is mainly driven by the fact that it’s free. All you need is a computer and an internet connection to download and share files! That being said, there are some important questions to ask about torrenting, such as whether torrenting is illegal, whether it’s safe, whether or not you could get caught and many more. In this guide, I’ll give you the definitive answer to all of your questions and discuss the issues associated with torrenting. What Is Torrenting? Normally, when you download a movie or video to your device, you press the download link and your computer connects to the server of the file for the download to start. This means that you’re downloading a file from a single server. Torrenting works differently compared to this method of downloading files. That’s because a torrent breaks up one large file and splits it up into many different, smaller files. Instead of downloading a file from one server, torrent software applications such as BitTorrent or uTorrent connect to a large number of other computers based on the principle of peer-to-peer (P2P) file is downloading movies illegal sharing. Torrent software allows you to download small pieces of a file from every computer in the P2P network. Before the existence of P2P torrent networks, copyrighted files were stored on a single server. Websites hosting copyrighted material on a server were easily traced by government institutions and shut down. Peer-to-peer networks provide a highly decentralized environment to store files, which makes it immensely more difficult for authorities to shut down the process of file sharing because there isn’t a central server hosting the files. How Do Torrents Work? The technical process of torrenting consists of sharing small files, which are also referred to as “packets.” This process is divided into two parts: leeching and seeding. First, let me explain the two terminologies: 1. Leeching. You are a leecher when you download a file, plain and simple. But, the term is sometimes referred to in a bad way, when people stop uploading a file after they’ve completed the download and therefore don’t help other leechers out. However, most torrent software disallows users to disable the upload limit entirely. As shown below, the minimum upload speed in uTorrent is 5 kB/s. You could say that torrent clients believe that “sharing is caring” – if you download a file, you should also give back to the network. 2. Seeding. You are a seeder when you download a torrent and upload the “packets” you have downloaded at the same time. The original file is moved from the initial seed into smaller “packets” to other computers in a P2P network. The seeders store bits and pieces of the big file and, when it’s their turn, share that further throughout a P2P network. That means that all the seeders together represent one big file as a whole. Moreover, you aren’t downloading a file from one location, but instead from a number of different seeders, who are hosting the files your torrent software is requesting to download. In return for allowing you to leech those files, the software establishes a connection between you and other leechers – so they can download the packets you’ve already completed downloading. In other words, you become a seeder. 3. The Torrenting Process. When you want to download the latest action movie, it works like this: You download small “packets” from many different seeders, who upload parts of the movie in a P2P network. Once you have completed downloading certain “packets,” your torrent software will start sharing

is downloading movies illegal online

these “packets” with other people who want to download the movie (leechers). At this point, you are still downloading the remaining “packets” to complete the entire download. This process will continue until you’ve completed downloading all the required packets to complete the entire file of the movie. Note: the torrent software automatically enables uploading the file until you manually switch it off. Is Torrenting Safe? The question applies to two different areas. First, is the actual process of torrenting safe for your computer in terms of malware? To begin with, the process of torrenting is pretty safe. Before downloading a torrent, I recommend reading the comments and reviews from the community. If the comments are positive, it’s safe to say that the torrent doesn’t contain any malicious files. In addition, many torrent websites such as The Pirate Bay rate the uploader or show a “trusted source” sign, as shown below: Still, you should always be cautious when it comes to downloading torrents. It’s better to avoid torrent files from unknown uploaders, without any ratings or comments. Is Torrenting Illegal? The act of torrenting itself is not illegal. However, downloading and sharing unsanctioned copyrighted material is very much illegal , and there is always a chance of getting caught by the authorities. Torrenting non-copyrighted material is perfectly fine and is allowed, as there are no restrictions that apply to that . In many countries, such as the U.S., governments and Internet Server Providers (ISPs) collaborate to catch people who distribute unsanctioned copyrighted material. ISPs might not always actively search for torrenters, but your ISP could be subpoenaed by government authorities or a court order to hand over your personal information if they suspect that you’re torrenting copyrighted material. I’ll talk more about the consequences of being caught torrenting later. Government authorities also often force ISPs to block torrent websites, but this seems to be rather ineffective because users can use VPNs to access the websites, which I’ll discuss later as well. Can I Get Caught Torrenting? Simply put: yes, you can most definitely get caught torrenting. The authorities and ISPs can easily catch people who distribute copyrighted material without any privacy precautions. The ISP can spot users who are sharing files based on their IP address. Torrenting client software stores all IP addresses of seeders and leechers as well. By simply monitoring a torrent file, the ISP has access to all IP addresses downloading a specific torrent. In pretty much every case, the ISP only needs an IP address to figure out who’s downloading a torrent and from where. As a result, the authorities could come knocking on your door. Copyright Trolls. Copyright trolls are individuals or companies that are in the business of going after torrent pirates. These businesses locate torrenters who illegally distribute copyrighted material based on their IP addresses. When they successfully locate a torrent pirate, they sign a deal of approval with the copyright holders to take legal actions on their behalf against the pirate. In some cases, Hollywood production companies hire these businesses to specifically snoop on pirates distributing their content illegally. Copyright trolls employ “scare tactics” to frighten people who they accuse of copyright infringement by sending out threatening letters or emails. What Are the Consequences of Getting Caught? Typically, copyright trolls have a legal strategy in place that summons the ISP to send you an threatening email. So, when you get caught for torrenting unsanctioned copyrighted material, you could receive a settlement offer from your ISP. Through your ISP, the copyright troll threatens to sue you for a ridiculous sum of money, but then offer a settlement at only 2-5% of the original penalty. Although you’re not legally obligated to pay them anything at all, copyright trolls play a numbers game and hope for a certain percentage of the infringers to accept the settlement offer. It’s more profitable for copyright trolls to target those who accept the initial settlement because pursuing a trial in court is both time-consuming and a lengthy process. In most cases, I would ignore the first settlement letter. However, that doesn’t mean the copyright troll can’t intensify the

threat or eventually take it to court. In most countries, such as the U.S., the legal system makes a clear distinction between torrenters who are frequently distributing copyrighted material, and torrenters who only occasionally download a file. Furthermore, it’s also possible to receive a penalty from your ISP. For instance, your ISP could reduce your internet speed as a punishment or even threaten to hand over your personal information to the authorities or copyright trolls. That said, there are some precautions you can take to avoid legal threats, which I’ll discuss in the next section. How to Protect Yourself When Torrenting. Obviously, if you want to avoid ramifications, it would be best not to torrent at all. But, if you want to keep torrenting, it’s important to protect your online privacy and to stay under the radar of copyright trolls. To be clear, I don’t condone or encourage torrenting that involves copyrighted material. You’re responsible for the potential risks and legal trouble. Still, if you’re sure you want to do so, here are a few precautions you can take to minimize your risk of getting caught. 1. Use a VPN for Torrenting. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the most effective way to protect your online privacy. A VPN offers a solution in two ways: 1 It shields your IP address by routing all of your online behaviour through a server in another location, which changes your IP address. The is downloading movies illegal VPN creates an extra layer of protection and makes it hard to keep track of your online activity. 2 A good VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic so that your ISP can’t monitor your activities. Note: choose a quality VPN for high-end protection. It’s important that your VPN doesn’t keep logs of your activities. Also, select a VPN that isn’t likely to hand over your data to the authorities. You can check out my top 5 list of the best VPNs for torrenting , my post on the best VPN for uTorrent users and this guide on why some VPNs are better for torrenting than others. 2. Use the Tor Network. The Tor browser prevents anyone from tracking your internet connection. Tor encrypts the data multiple times via Tor relays. Tor is a browser often used by journalists and activists in countries where internet traffic is tightly monitored. You can read more on setting up the Tor browser here . 3. Be a Smart Torrenter. My last recommendation is to be smart when torrenting by avoiding the latest movies, games and music. Copyright trolls are more likely to be snooping around in these torrents due to the high number of torrenters downloading the latest releases. Is Streaming Replacing Torrenting? Many avid torrenters have made the transition from uTorrent and BitTorrent to streamed content. Some prefer “web-browser streamed” content, while others install and customize software tools, like Kodi and Plex. Kodi and Plex are both open-source software media centers. The software allows you to stream and play all kinds of content, such as videos and music, on various devices. Unlike Netflix, Kodi and Plex both stream copyrighted content without permission from the copyright holders. Because of this, Kodi is under a lot of legal pressure at the time of this writing, so you might have to look for an alternative in the future. What it comes down to is this: from a legal perspective, streaming copyrighted material from a pirated source is illegal . If you want to protect your online privacy and avoid potential legal ramifications when streaming, simply follow the precautions listed above. The Definitive Answer. It’s very simple: torrenting is legal , but torrenting unsanctioned copyrighted material is very illegal. Remember that your ISP and copyright trolls constantly monitor peer-to-peer networks (such as uTorrent) and may take action if they catch you torrenting copyrighted files. To protect your online privacy, follow the provided instructions. Privacy-minded torrenters always use good VPNs to protect their online privacy and/or use the Tor Network. At the end of the day, it’s at your own risk to torrent – be that legal or illegal.