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Is BitTorrent Legal?

By Andrew Lu on January 07, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

BitTorrent is a great tool that allows you to download vast amounts of data relatively quickly. But is BitTorrent legal?

After all, you or someone you know may be using BitTorrent to download movies, music, and other types of files with seemingly no problem.

But whether this use of BitTorrent is actually legal is questionable. In fact, the legality can vary on a case-by-case basis depending on what it is you are actually downloading, reports Business Insider.

There is nothing inherently illegal about BitTorrent. It is just like any other computer program out there that moves files.

But BitTorrent users start to get into trouble when they use the file-transferring program for illegal purposes like downloading and uploading copyrighted materials.

So if you are using BitTorrent to upload your homemade movie that you want to share with the world, your use of BitTorrent is likely legal.

But if you are using BitTorrent to download the newest hit movie or your favorite song, then you are likely breaking the law.

In fact, the legality of BitTorrent can be compared to the legality of guns, writes Business Insider. For example, it may be perfectly legal to buy and own a gun. You can take your gun to a shooting range and have a great (and legal) time shooting a paper target. However, if you take that same gun and use it to rob a bank, you would then be committing a felony.

As with other types of software and tools, the legality of BitTorrent entirely depends upon you. You can use it for legal means or illegal means.

The owners of copyrighted materials are, of course, aware of file-sharing programs like BitTorrent. Users have famously been sued for appropriating copyrighted material. Penalties for copyright violations can be significant, and you will want to contact an attorney should you face legal action for any illegal conduct via BitTorrent.

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