Can you get caught torrenting with a VPN

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If you use torrents for downloading movies, games, music and other copyrighted material – you’re at risk of getting caught by authorities. It is illegal to share files and you might get a letter for violating copyright infringement for distributing or downloading such goods. With a VPN it’s different, it is said that it hides your torrenting activities, so can you get caught when using it?

Instead of connecting directly to the peers a VPN’s strong encryption protects and hides your torrenting from ISP by routing your traffic to a VPN server first. You should not be worried about being caught if you use the right VPN. However, if a service has IP leaks you might get in trouble for P2P file sharing.

As said before, you need to use the right VPN for torrenting because not all VPNs openly support P2P traffic and completely protect you from getting caught. There are some providers on the market that allow torrenting, however, they DO NOT allow sharing copyrighted movies, music or games.

Real-life example: few Reddit users reported that they indeed got a DMCA notice from their ISP even though they used a VPN. It happened because the VPN service did not openly support torrenting activities and had written in their Terms of Service that they will handle any copyright violation if noticed.

So you might be worried about the consequences?

The consequences if you get caught highly depend on the country’s laws you’re torrenting in. The punishment varies from getting your internet terminated, fined or even getting your devices confiscated. The first time usually results in a warning notice from ISP and consequent violations might be more serious.

Here’s how it usually works:

  1. You start to download a torrent without a VPN which is being monitored
  2. Now, by your IP address, it is known who your ISP is
  3. ISP gets informed by whomever who was monitoring the torrent that there was a copyright infringement
  4. Since ISP knows who is using that particular IP address it sends you the notice of copyright violation
  5. Then either some legal action is taken or nothing happens the first time (Don’t take it as a rule, for example, Germany is very strict on torrenting and fines immediately)
  6. If you got the first notice, it does not matter which country you live in, consequent violations will definitely result in some sort of punishment if you won’t hide your torrenting with VPN

Story of a friend of a friend: one guy came to study in Germany from a country where torrenting is common and no one really cares about who’s doing what. He used to download tons of movies and music back in the day and he continued to do so while staying in Germany. A month later he got a letter with a date to show up in court due to copyright violations. The outcome of the trial was a fine of 1500 Eur (~1640 USD) and his laptop was confiscated as a piece of evidence.

Using the right VPN for torrenting is safe and you can not be caught while downloading with it. The service, in general, protects your privacy and what you do online by hiding it from ISP (or authorities). When torrenting without a VPN you are at risk of getting fined or even your devices confiscated.

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