Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Torrent files are used by bitTorrent file sharing and downloading technology. Are they illegal? No. But something else might be.

Downloading Torrent Files, is it illegal?

No it's not.

BUT WAIT ...

Before you run off and start downloading last week's bootlegged theatrical movie release, you really need to understand why that particular download and others like it probably are illegal.

(Caveat: I'm basing this on my knowledge of the current state of Copyright law. Please, realize I'm no lawyer, and this shouldn't be taken as legal advice. This is mostly just common sense with the high level concepts we're talking about.)

"Torrent" files are, specifically, a small file of information used by a file sharing technology known as "bitTorrent". To be super pedantic about it, because the ".torrent" file itself just has some administrative information in it, there's nothing wrong with downloading it.

But that, of course, is not what you meant.

The word "torrent" is also frequently, though incorrectly, used to refer to the actual files being shared using bitTorrent. So while you might use the ".torrent" to initiate a download, most people call the download itself a "torrent" as well. And that's more than likely what you're asking.

"bitTorrent is nothing more than a file downloading technology. "

But here's the catch: bitTorrent is nothing more than a file downloading technology. It's highly efficient, optimized for large files and for decentralized storage of the files being downloaded, but ultimately it's nothing more than a way to copy a file down to your machine.

Copying a file to your machine is not illegal.

The technology used to copy a file to your machine is not illegal.

In some ways you could just as well ask "Is it legal to download files from the web?", to which the answer is (obviously, I hope), of course it's legal. We do it every time we view a web page.

The problem comes from looking at exactly what kinds of files are being downloaded.

Downloading copyrighted files without permission is illegal. And it doesn't matter what technology you happen to use to do it: bitTorrent, FTP, web downloads, email or getting a CD in the mail. If the material is copyrighted and you didn't pay for or otherwise get the legal right or license to receive those files, those are all copyright violations.

Unfortunately bitTorrent technology has become confused with illegal file sharing simply because so much of that illegal activity uses that technology.

So let's be clear: the technology is legal. BitTorrent is legal. Torrents are legal. But using bitTorrent or any other technology to download copyrighted material that you don't have the right to is not.

And yes, bitTorrent and bitTorrent-like technology can most definitely be used for totally legal activities. As just one small example I believe many Linux distributions are often made available as torrents. Perfectly legal, and exactly the kind of large download that bitTorrent technology was designed for and excels at.

Sadly, people who should know better either don't, or are purposely using that confusion to further their own agenda. We've heard of ISPs and other facilities blocking or throttling bitTorrent file transfers, or politicians suggesting they do so, "because it's all illegal". It's not. Along with blocking the illegal file sharing that's going on, doing so also blocks the legal and appropriate use of the technology as well.

Article C3403 - June 2, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

68 Comments
arnold
June 10, 2008 8:57 AM

well explained. I've read some news that a female was caught sharing music files over the internet and she was asked to pay some amount of money.

benjamin
July 18, 2008 12:27 PM

is it illegal to download a game like halo as a torrent??

Leo
July 19, 2008 9:09 AM

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Read the article. It's illegal to download pirated software
no matter what technique you use - torrent, direct download
or anything else. If you didn't pay for Halo, it's illegal
to download it.

Leo


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cobal
July 30, 2008 8:57 PM

well have a question i do torrent but mainly old games like fallout, command and conquer, and other games made around and before 2000. so is it illegal if the games arent being produce.

and if you can answer this please email it to me at cobal@live.com

Gail
September 7, 2008 7:08 PM

It's all very well. I understand copyright and all but how do those guys on U tube get away with it? I'm sure that everyone there isn't asking for a copywright :(

Chris
September 14, 2008 3:35 AM

It's technically still illegal to download old software that isn't been produced as the copyright is still valid. Unfortunate considering that a video game is counted as old when it's 6 months old..

Gail
September 18, 2008 5:54 PM

Copyright lasts for years and years and it seems no one person has a right to anything these days. But I'm still wondering how those guys get away with uploading stuff to U Tube? @@@!!! Do they have copyright - do they have a right at all?

bclitmrusx
November 24, 2008 4:30 PM

part of this makes scenes and part does not u tube and other places give u the html code for movies and pictures so that is essentially the same thing right

Julianne
January 30, 2009 12:29 PM

But what about designers? I have produced a digital file which I sell from my online shop, and google alerts took me to a free download site the other day offering my most expensive product (only US$15) for free download. This is my main seller, and some of the items in there are deliberately not available for free - there are other products I offer for free. I contacted them and told them to remove it which they did, but the next day I went back and they are offering the same product under a different name. What rights do I have? I created it, I own it, I am the only distributor of it. It's just plain rude. I want their site removed, they are prats.

anonymous1337geek
February 5, 2009 7:03 PM

ya i guess it is ileagel but many people do it anyways

Braveman
February 20, 2009 1:19 PM

I usually download files from torrent sites but for two days now my torrent downloads have been blocked and no matter the download manager i use (bitcomet, utorrent, limewire,) they just can't innitiate a torrent download. what might have caused this? please if u have an answer can u email it to me at [personal email address removed.] Thanks in advance

M
April 23, 2009 11:56 AM

Can you tell me who I should contact in Canada to report someone who excessively down loads movies? People like this cause a lot of job loss in the country!

Dan
April 24, 2009 4:11 PM

Please correct me on this if i have made a mistake. All music, software , text files, videos etc are illegal downloads if they have a copy right on it.

Lets say thats true, i have downloaded games online and was found later on because i was sharing it. Is it possible to just download torrent files for yourself and not get caught and arrested for copyright infringement or theft?

I was looking online for copyright theft/infringement and found a case where the case looked over by the Supreme court was considered in the favour of the bootleg phonorecords seller:

" interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The Copyright Act even employs a separate term of art to define one who misappropriates a copyright: ... 'an infringer of the copyright.' ...

The infringer invades a statutorily defined province guaranteed to the copyright holder alone. But he does not assume physical control over the copyright; nor does he wholly deprive its owner of its use. While one may colloquially link infringement with some general notion of wrongful appropriation, infringement plainly implicates a more complex set of property interests than does run-of-the-mill theft, conversion, or fraud.
—Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207, pp. 217–218
"

So what does that mean for us?

I'm a techie, not a lawyer. I suggest you contact a legal expert, if you need that level of detail.
That being said, stealing things (downloading copyrighted material illegally, or allowing others download copyrighted material from you) is wrong, and HELPING people steal copyrighted material (by only hosting pointers to illegal copies) is wrong too. Legal? No idea. But still ethically wrong.
- Leo
25-Apr-2009
The Guy That Hates The Other Guy
May 21, 2009 6:16 PM

If I downloaded something hell bad and whenever i start my computer the "picture" pops up. How do i get it off.

blueexpresso
May 25, 2009 8:09 AM

"Please correct me on this if i have made a mistake. All music, software , text files, videos etc are illegal downloads if they have a copy right on it.

Lets say thats true, i have downloaded games online and was found later on because i was sharing it. Is it possible to just download torrent files for yourself and not get caught and arrested for copyright infringement or theft?" this is an interesting comment, quite frankly http://www.isitlegalto.com should answer is it illegal to have some free legal advice and fun.

Lee
August 7, 2009 2:58 PM

so there's really no point of torrenting? because most of the downloads are capable of movies, films, magazines, etc. What is there that "isn't" copyrighted because everything is?

Please (re)read the article you just commented on. It addresses exactly this.
Leo
08-Aug-2009

Terry Cham
August 20, 2009 10:49 PM

Can a copyright owner create a version of his material with trojan horse or other malware to trick pirates? If they do, are they subject to the same "computer terrorisism" laws?

jon
August 28, 2009 6:57 AM

"Is it illegal to download torrent files?" - No
"Is it illegal to upload torrent files?" - Yes, in some circumstances

Your question is incorrect.

I disagree. Whether or not torrents are illegal - uploading or downloading - has nothing to do with it being a torrent. It's illegal to download or upload via any means including a torrent a pirated movie. It's totally legal to upload or download your own files via a torrent. Bittorrent isn't the issue. The files you're dealing with are.
Leo
28-Aug-2009
Jay
September 24, 2009 3:19 PM

Today I received the email of if you stop we wont prosucute if you dont we'll shut off your connection and prosucute to the full extent of the law. I'v chosen to stop, delete all the torrent files and shut utorrent down. After my sister got off the phone with the isp I learned that it wasn't the downloading they cared about as much as the uploading. I'v alway's known uploading was very illegal so I alway's stopped the seeding as soon as the download was finished. We all know that without people seeding the is nothing to download but seeing that it was illegal I alway's chose not to. Little did I know that even if the file was stopped didn't mean other people couldn't access it. This didn't make much sence to me and even felt my privicy was violated. The bottom line is getting or giving copyrighted material is against the law, so I ask this, Why is it so easy and tempting to get torrent's.Everybody loves to save some money sometime's and I, like all of you have given these gripping companies thousand's of dollar's that I figured well, a little torrent here, a little torrent there, who's the victim? Well I guess there is a victim, one I'm very simpathetic towards too, you know, those giant cooperation's with KaBillions of dollar's that Bi%*h and moan everytime there copy right's are infringed apon, by honest hard working people in a world and an econimy that's destined toward's Hell for tring to save a buck. Maybe they should go after some of these companies for more taxes instead of giving huge tax break's. Maybe, just Maybe then some of that money will trickle down to us torrent downloader's and we'll have enough to put food on the table and go to the movie's, or buy software, or purchase CD's. My point is, there's no question in my mind that it's illegal, just that they might be barking up the wrong tree. Keep in mind that a small percentage of the population even know's what a torrent is. As for me, you wont catch me downloading torrents anymore, not because I dont want to but because I was asked to stop, OR ELSE!!! God know's I don't want the Internet police showing up at my door. Everyone take care and thank's for listening. Jay

mike bull
October 15, 2009 3:28 PM

the sad thing is we get accused for opening a torrent just to see the contents.
they track the ip report it to your isp.
i have proven it many times.
and they constantly email me telling that i am downloading illegal pirated content.
when all im doing is reading the contents.
mainly to see the types of files. or download the readme only i get these stupid emails.

i have come across virus's in these torrents also.
and some times just looking for missing dll files also. when packaged properly we could download dll files that we are missing or needing or even drivers.

this whole internet policing is getting overboard. and im about to cancel my net if this bull continues and they will lose more taxes cause more and more of us refuse.

how do u prove you own something if the original is lost damaged or stolen?

i love to view contents of torrents cause many times its not what it says it is. download a torrent then it opens another torrent and we get tricked.
i know many have found that.

who owns it if the company is no longer?

im done ranting good luck all.

SUPPORT OUR FREEDOM & STOP THE OVER PRICING THEY ARE DOING TO US...
BUY FROM OTHER COUNTRIES WHERE ITS CHEAPER....
TRUST ME OTHER COUNTRIES GET IT DIRECT FOR 1/4 the price sometimes 1/8th the price

Michael
October 18, 2009 4:30 AM

I just recieved a cease and desist regarding a piece of Adobe photoshop that I downloaded from a torrent site. The file I downloaded was a trial, and it was infected, so I got rid of it immediately. I actually complied before I was even warned. How can me the user, prove that I did not use it, and them the copyright holder prove that I used the software, or rather did not. They can obviously prove that I downloaded it, there is no denying that, but since it was a trial version anyways, it seems that it's not just what I downloaded, but where I downloaded it from. I did activate the trial that I recieved, but it had an infected executable anyways.

I was initally downloading the same software from the adobe website on a trial basis, but it was terribly slow, and I have downloaded trials from torrent sites before and this has never happened up until now.

Confused, and somewhat concerned.
Michael

First, I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. I wonder if the C&D is about your sharing the file, not just downloading it. After downloading it via a bittorrent program if you leave that program running you are now sharing that file with others.
Leo
18-Oct-2009
Im a failure
October 21, 2009 9:08 AM

Hey,
well,um yea,my cousin downloads alot of games with his brother and he started a GTA4 download and now i'm wondering if im going to get arrested or fined??? The only other thing i have downloaded was a adobe trial which was really big and boring...So yea that really my question

Failure

Brandi
November 3, 2009 5:11 PM

I downloaded a game from what I thought was a real company but come to find out I had paid a person that had no connection to the game at all and then they threatened to charge me for copy right infringement so be careful.

Sahhumah
November 16, 2009 8:14 AM

Hi
Thank you so much. I got the full benefit from this. My question is: I have read in some sites that the torrent is legal. I do need to download so many things I can not pay for. Can't the companies stop them? Why do not they do it?
peace

Honduras
November 21, 2009 2:47 PM

Well quiet frankly I didnt know bit torrents where illegal i have downloaded a couple of older games that i didnt even know they had for pc but with all this warnings coming in the mail to people iam honestly getting kind of scared besides i have no money to pay a big fine for something so simple. I think that the law system in the USA is quiet messed up and upside down in some aspects but what can 1 voice change? Like one of the previous reader posted on top what will a leak of couple of thousand dollars 100,000 dollars do to their billion dollar industry comon people thats like a penny from a dollar.

Please read the article. Torrents are not illegal. Using them to download pirated and copyrighted software without permission is illegal. There are many legal uses of torrents.
Leo
22-Nov-2009

James S
December 1, 2009 8:53 PM

It's mostly a matter of, I want it now. I can be accused of falling into the instant gratification instant gratification gave me. Now I just wait for the latest great thing that's overpriced to fall prey to overconsumption. It's like stock - buy low, sell high. Or buy low and when done, throw it in the trash because by then it's value is worthless.

In other words, if you want it buy it. Maybe the influx of consumer buying will lead to lower prices and/or quality in the future.

FYI - always read the "Terms of Agreement" prior to accepting the terms.

abhishek
December 10, 2009 12:11 PM

i have a blog
http://freetorrent-download.blogspot.com/
i just need and answer if download and upload the link of the torrent file is legal to Do so, if yes can i put Adbrite ads to on it, please reply me back

Matt Boaman
December 20, 2009 11:29 AM

Unfortunately, downloading or uploading any piece of software, game, or music without the necessary copyright agreement is a violation of the copyright. Being in the web development industry I can see both sides of the arguement, as companies are losing money from their product not being paid for. On the flip side, many recording artists, or companies are just lining their pockets with the extra revenue.

Escargot125
December 25, 2009 10:41 PM

If you download an illegal (copyrighted material) torrent off the Internet, then what are your chances of actually being "caught" and prosecuted? What are the minimum and maximum sentences? Are the chances of being caught and the consequences associated with them even influencing the way people torrent? Is our legal system incompetent to the rapidly growing technology? Just a few questions...lol :)

paul
January 5, 2010 6:22 PM

Now the people getting caught, are they getting punished for sharing files or just downloading the Torrent?

johnny
February 5, 2010 11:57 PM

ive download quite a large number of stuff using bittorrent. but most of the time its either to try a piece of softwre, or its software ive already purchased but cant afford the new upgrade. if the software is good enough to keep, ill buy it. for example if it werent for pirate software, i would have never purchased advanced system optimize, eset nod32, office 2007, nero, and others. if its something useless or doesnt do what i need it too, i permanantly delete it. so in a way these "torrents" can be beneficial.

vivek
March 10, 2010 9:13 AM

if we download any movies using torrent file..
so is it free or we have to pay money for downloading ...reply..

Four wonders
March 26, 2010 8:48 PM

What is the difference between sharing online, and handing the physical DVD or game to a friend to try or view??? How many of us have shared our movies with friends and families or a CD??? Like most people, I don't want something for nothing, but I don't want to spend money on something that I haven't seen or tried. Which then brings up a question about the movies and games that are rented from a video store. The video store is not giving royalties to the production corporations......Hmmmmm--- How does that work???

Actually video stores do pay royalties. That being said when you share a CD or DVD you're not making a copy. The very act of downloading makes a copy, which is illegal.
Leo
27-Mar-2010

Andraeseus
March 29, 2010 11:54 AM

If you buy a CD which is NOT in a mp3 format and then you upload it and others download it in mp3 format that's not the same as "COPYING" u altered it so it is not the same product you brought. it is not being reproduced. so hwo is downloading mp3 torrents copying and therefore illegal?

Altering the format changes nothing - you are still illegally sharing the music.
Leo
31-Mar-2010

kiran
April 6, 2010 9:45 AM

Is it also illegal to download any games from bittorrent?

Depends on the game. If you're downloading a game that is not available for free elsewhere (i.e. a game that you would normally purchase), then yeah, it's probably illegal.
Leo
07-Apr-2010

myriam22philippe@hotmail.fr
April 10, 2010 11:51 AM

All of this sounds like nonsense to me. It is crazy especially when dealing with the internet. Sure Authors have copy rights to their products and should be respected , but they shouldn't put them on the internet unless it is in a well known store.
The only reason why people are using the internet and the advance technology is because they have the ability to copy a file or movie that may have purchased and would love to protect their investment by making a copy. This stops then from buying another music cd, movie, or another copy of application in the future which may be hard to find or the price has gone up. The next thing you will be saying is let your Internet Service provider, AT&T etc control the whole internet. Once that happen, you will wonder what happen to the internet and the technology. I say get rid of the internet if it involves downloading a file, sales, or just viewing a movie. That sounds crazy doesn't it?

James
April 18, 2010 8:16 PM

What if I'm in a situation where I bought an album from iTunes, but my computer's registry became corrupted beyond repair. I reinstalled my OS, only to find I couldn't rip some of my music from my iPod. In a case where I legally purchased an album digitally, would it be legal to redownload that album, considering you already bought it elsewhere?

I am not a lawyer.

One would think, but this is one reason why people hate DRM so much. Unless you have a way to download the original from iTunes again, it is apparently still illegal to redownload the album from elsewhere. Stupid, IMO, but apparently the way it is. As always remember:

I am not a lawyer.
Leo
19-Apr-2010

Kyle
April 19, 2010 12:13 PM

hey there, im just a bit confused, are TV shows like '90210 or how i met your mother' copyrighted or illegal to download? Because i know downloading movies is but im not sure about Series...

Thanks

Same thing - they're copyrighted.
Leo
20-Apr-2010

mat
April 21, 2010 9:07 PM

hi
if i download some movies using a torrent and didnt know it was illegal but when found out it was i deleted it can i get in trouble? im only youngish

Yes. (Though I'd think it's not very likely.)
Leo
23-Apr-2010

Jim
May 3, 2010 7:19 AM

Is it illegal to record TV shows or movies on a DVR? I can't imagine it is since these machines are for sale. So, if I record a show and share it with a friend the old fashioned way (burn it to a CD/DVD) is that illegal? Then if I share it with a friend by sending it over the internet does that make it illegal?

Thanks

I am not a lawyer. I believe that as soon as you make a copy it's in violation of copyright, particularly if you then share that copy with others.
Leo
04-May-2010

Syd
May 3, 2010 9:16 AM

HI
I am now even more confused. Please clarify..If I use different torrent website to download movies and music (not sure about copyright status) , is it illegal ? Can I get in trouble ??

Thanks

You need to be sure about copyright status, as that is what makes it legal or illegal. Torrents and bittorrent are just technology and not illegal. Downloading a copyrighted movie or music is regardless of how you do it.
Leo
04-May-2010

phlum
May 11, 2010 12:22 PM

Say I own a game on the PS2; would it be illegal for me to download the same game on my PC?

(I wouldn't mind, but I like Battlefront mods)

anthony
May 20, 2010 10:40 AM

hey if i download a complete audiocopy of a book from a torrent is that legal?

Doesn't matter where or how you got it - if it's copyrighted material and you didn't pay for it then it's probably illegal.
Leo
21-May-2010

Sharon
May 21, 2010 10:11 AM

Ok, I understand exactly what you are saying and am grateful for the insight. What I'd like to know is just why would I use a torrent for? I'm just an average "joe," and I cannot figure out what I would need a torrent for. Seems if I can't legally download copyrighted material then what can I download and why would I want it? Thank you.

As mentioned in the article, many Linux distributions are made available using bittorrent. There are definitely legimate uses for it. Will you ever need it? Depends on what you're downloading (legally) and how it's offered.
Leo
22-May-2010

Jackie
May 25, 2010 3:39 PM

I've read all the comments but I'm still a little confused. I want to copy the VHS movies I own to DVD but am unable because of the internal copyright protection on them. Since I already purchased a VHS copy of these movies is it still illegal to download a copy from a torrent sharing site?

As I understand it, yes. But I am not a lawyer.
Leo
26-May-2010

Lorraine
May 31, 2010 9:23 AM

IS it illigal to download pictures that are not copyrighted and post them on a website that you are building?

If they are truly not copyrighted - in otherwords they are public domain photos - then you can do whatever you like.
Leo
02-Jun-2010

Lorraine
May 31, 2010 9:26 AM

Would if you download a picture that was not copyrighted but you get a letter from a lawyer stated it was. Maybe someone before you downloaded a copyrighted picture and you just copied it from him. How would you know that it was copyrighted?

You wouldn't. You'd still have to remove it. Copying is always dangerous that way.
Leo
02-Jun-2010

RENEE
July 26, 2010 7:13 AM

Let me see if I have this right!! If I download torrent and start download music or movies; it coming from a share file so it would not be illegal to do that. But if I use it to download music or movies that are copyright from the computer than it illegal. If I download any thing from the computer like let say moive " toy story" and I get it from one of the above site would that be illegal or legal, if I'm getting it from a share file from a site.

dex
July 27, 2010 10:16 PM

erm...is it legal to give ppl links to download movies via torrent?...example: www.torrentz.com they give link for torrent downloads...and some other blogs give torrent to download "verified" movies? is it legal?

ThatGuy
August 1, 2010 6:50 PM

So, let me get this right. (I'm not a lawyer also, FYI. :P) Let's say you bought an album containing a song. But let's say your little brother heats it over a stove just for the heck of it. So, you can use BitTorrent to re-download the track, right? The CIA won't barge in your door guns-a-blazing?

As I understand it, and as stupid as it sounds, what you just described is illegal. (I am not a lawyer.) I doubt you'll get busted for it (never count on my legal advice), but as I understand it you're supposed to go out and buy it again. I agree that's stupid.
Leo
02-Aug-2010

John Hughes
August 13, 2010 10:16 PM

So let me say this. Say I download a movie from a website as a torrent. Is it ok? ........... Further more, say I paid a membership fee on a website and downloaded a movie (copyrighted or not), can burn as many DVD's as I want of that movie and do what I want with them? Still in torrent format.

THE FORMAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. Downloading copyrighted materials is illegal. I can't speak to the paid service you're using but on the surface it sounds illegal as well - they're charging you for access to their servers which in turn probably contain illegal copies of the movies. Anything that allows you to burn unlimited copies of copyrighted movies is almost certainly bogus.
Leo
14-Aug-2010

chris
August 15, 2010 2:14 PM

how do we know if what were downloading is copyrighted?

If it's something you would normally have to pay for, it's probably copyrighted. If it's a popular television show, movie or music, it's probably copyrighted. If it's too good to be true, it's probably copyrighted.
Leo
16-Aug-2010

Whoisit?
August 18, 2010 5:15 PM

What are the chances of getting caught if you downloaded movies, say from a popular torrent site.

Laurence Moore
August 18, 2010 8:06 PM

Thanks for the article. It's good that more people are learning that the BitTorrent technology itself isn't illegal, it's just that many people end up using it for illegal purposes. There are plenty of torrent trackers that for "legal torrents" that are free to distribute and no-one will get in trouble.

http://www.newmediarights.org/business_models/artist/how_find_free_and_legal_bittorrent_sites

is a whole list of them there.

tim
August 31, 2010 11:43 AM

if the copy written material has the copy write taken off and available as a torrent for download, then it is no longer a copy written file that you are downloading. the fault would lie on the person who eliminated the copy write. not on the person downloading the file (which is no longer copy-written). as long as you personally aren't bypassing a copy write, then you should be fine. IMO

As I understand it this is incorrect. Copyright isn't "removed" by someone. And even if it were you as the person downloading it are still liable for downloading illegally. I'm not a lawyer, but that's my understanding.
Leo
02-Sep-2010

anthony holopainen
September 1, 2010 5:17 AM

i know this seems really wierd but lets say theres something on a torrent site and thats the only place to get it because the original site costs money is it legal? also its a program and how do i tell if its copyrighted or has had the copyright taken off it?

If the original site wants money and you're wanting to get it for free that's almost certainly illegal. Getting something for free that you would otherwise have to pay for is the very definition of theft.
Leo
02-Sep-2010

Jim H
September 7, 2010 9:26 AM

I bought a deck fro $70 that converts my VHS to DVD. I pop in the VHS tape I want to copy and a blank DVD, click the DUB button on the remote and off it goes. When the copy is complete I go to the DVD menu and close the DVD so it is playable on any DVD player as opposed to only that deck and I'm done. I believe legally you are allowed a back up copy but I don't know if it has to be in the same format. The deck also is both a VHS tape player/recorder and a DVD player/recorder. I got it from every-body's "favorite" online auction site as a factory reconditioned model. I absolutely LOVE it!

Jim H
September 7, 2010 2:52 PM

Also, there is currently a worldwide convention going on with all kinds of governments and law enforcement agencies to attempt to come up with enforcement and penalties having to do with copyrighted material on the Internet. It is still in the discussion phase and like anything of that magnitude, it changes day by day. Some of it is mind blowing on the penalty side of things with some very draconian punishments. Look up ACTA, the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The negotiations are still considered secret but new reports are regularly leaked. They are down-loadable in PDF format. The last one I got was from July 10, 2010. The agreement covers everything from fake Gucci bags to pirated software. Read it and be afraid! There are groups trying to fight it or at least bring an element of sanity to it. Please find and join one.

Rajeev
September 9, 2010 11:31 PM

Well, it's seems to be legal to use Bit-torrent or other p2p communication technique to download non copyrighted files, but i m confused about listing of such torrent files. Is it legal to provide search for torrent files.

Jay
September 10, 2010 6:06 PM

I was told that if you've ever bought a legal copy of something (and never sold it on), it's legal to download a copy via bit torrent or whatever, for personal use. Is this true? I'm mainly referring to records and music cassettes, but I guess it may apply to other media as well. Thanks for another great article Leo.

Omegano
September 30, 2010 5:24 PM

You say "...Using bitTorrent or any other technology to download copyrighted material that you don't have the right to is not [illegal]", but can't it be argued that no one has the right to anything downloaded from any bitTorrent client, including, say, Linux, or any other free software, because technically, the company that created said software has the right to its usage.

Bruce Wagner
October 4, 2010 7:45 AM


This article is written from the viewpoint of a resident of USA.

IMPORTANT TO POINT OUT: In a long and growing list of countries, such as Canada and France, P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing of copyrighted material has been deemed completely legal much to the delight of users.

I would be VERY careful about assuming that. Make absolutely sure this is case in yoru country before you attempt. Personally, I can't see that kind of copyright theft baing sanctioned.
Leo
05-Oct-2010

Ted
November 11, 2010 9:03 PM

to Omegano:
If you've ever read the GPL(the industry standard General Public License agreement) you know that companies, corporations, individuals that distribute software or other goods under the GPL make no restrictions on the distribution of those goods except that original credit for development be given to the authors and that the GPL be distributed with the goods(software or otherwise). These developers claim no right to restrict distribution otherwise, so as long as you follow those guidelines, you are free to do as you will with said goods. Once it is publicly declared in the GPL, I believe, they legally forfeit any right to restrict distribution beyond those general terms.

Ted
November 11, 2010 9:06 PM

Furthermore, they generally do not restrict one's right to alter and redistribute those goods.

Ted
November 11, 2010 9:17 PM

As far as what LINUX is in relation to the GPL, is a little more complex. The Linux Kernel(the core technology that defines software as LINUX) is only distributed under the GPL. Certain distributions of Linux, which may include variations on a theme(GUI aspects and included software, and specific added functionality or personality) may be futher restricted or copyrighted as distributions(the packaging itself or the "brand" if you will), but LINUX itself cannot be copyrighted in these more restricted terms.

Gary
January 7, 2011 9:44 AM

i want to dowload bus driver and i need to know if it is illegal thanks and it says it may be is that true??????

Burnichi
February 9, 2011 3:14 AM

i have downloaded gothic 4 and they sey i mast pay now 30000 euro for my ilegal activity they sey is piratery and i shod stop playng the game,the thing is i did not install the game.and the torent i have download it seys nothing about i mast pay or something else like is ilegal

Walt
March 16, 2011 12:07 PM

Does this mean that it is illegal to accept a book from someone because the book is copyrighted and I did not pay for it?

It's illegal to make a copy of the book, yes. (Downloading a file is, of course, making a copy.)
Leo
16-Mar-2011

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