Do you use torrents for downloading movies, games, music, or software? If so, then you’re at risk of getting caught torrenting. It is illegal to share files and distribute copyrighted material. But Can you get caught torrenting when using a VPN?
Torrenting with a VPN is different as it hides your P2P activities. But there are few cases when people still get in trouble even with a VPN.
First, let’s take a look at what are the consequences if you get caught torrenting.
What happens if you get caught torrenting
The consequences of illegal file-sharing vary on the country you live in. Countries like the US, United Kingdom, or Germany have very strict copyright laws. If you get caught torrenting there you might be punished.
This is what happens if you get caught torrenting:
- Warning letter: the first time you get caught torrenting you get a warning letter about copyright infringement.
- Terminated internet connection: some ISPs are so strict so they cut off your internet immediately once they see you torrenting. It’s very often the case in the US.
- Huge fine: the most common form of punishment for torrenting copyrighted material. The fines are insanely huge in Germany and Australia.
- Lose your device: in some rare cases, the authorities can take your device as evidence. This might depend on the materials you were torrenting and the size of the operation.
How you get caught when torrenting
Here’s how you get caught torrenting:
- You start to download a torrent without a VPN which is being monitored
- Your IP address is now known in the torrent tracker
- Now, by your IP address, your ISP is located
- ISP gets informed by that there was a copyright infringement
- Since ISP knows who is using that IP address it sends you the notice of copyright violation
- 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 issues fines immediately.
- Any consequent violations will result in a punishment if you won’t hide your torrenting with a 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 cares about it. 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 taken as a piece of evidence.
Can you get caught torrenting with a VPN
When torrenting with a VPN, it hides your real IP address. It protects your P2P traffic from ISP and trackers. But, you can still be caught while torrenting with a VPN. This can happen for two reasons – your VPN provider leaks your IP, or it does not fully support P2P traffic.
IP address leaks
Protection from IP leaks is essential when torrenting with a VPN. Any bite-size information that does not go via a VPN server might reveal who you are.
The best VPN services have a feature called an Internet Kill Switch. It will protect you from accidental VPN disconnects. It is also very handy when you forget to close your BitTorrent client and the torrents are still running.
Know that if your VPN is not technically advanced, you might get caught torrenting even with a VPN.
VPN torrenting support
Not all VPNs fully support torrenting. You need to use the right one to get completely protected from getting caught. As torrenting in general is not illegal, but sharing copyrighted material is. So, some VPNs say they support torrenting, but they DO NOT allow you to share copyrighted movies, music, or games.
Real-life example. Few Reddit users reported that they 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. The Terms of Service stated that a company will report anyone for copyright violations.
So, even if you use a VPN, you still can get caught torrenting. You need to use the right VPN for it.
Using the right VPN for torrenting is safe and you can not be caught 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.
If you’re looking for a VPN that fully supports and hides torrenting, here are some recommendations: