If you’re new to the whole torrent and P2P file sharing thing, you’re not alone. File sharing didn’t really take off until 1999. Even then, it remained a sort of niche activity. Since early P2P applications used a centralized server scheme to distribute files, most users still didn’t have the benefit of really understanding how P2P file sharing really worked.
Also, there was the “little” detail of some of those downloads being illegal – not something any copyright-respecting individual wanted to be involved with. And, while some people did pirate music, those days are long gone. Today, you have to be smart to avoid a lawsuit. That means sticking to legal torrents – files that are not protected by copyright or where the copyright holders have authorized free sharing. Here’s how to do that.
Locate Your Torrent Tracker
One of the first steps in finding the perfect legal torrent is to find the perfect tracker. A tracker is a server that helps you located torrents and coordinates the download process. You use trackers in combination with torrent clients, like Vuze. You do the actual downloading using the client and it helps you assemble all of the pieces of the file that you need for a complete download.
In general, there are two types of tracker: public and private. Public trackers are open to anyone. These are the sites where you can find torrents simply by doing a web search. –Some illegal content may reside on some of these types of sites (but not always). Be aware, and stay away from any site that contains copyright-protected content or where the rights holders have not allowed free sharing.
Private trackers require an invite. They may still have the same kinds of legal problems as public trackers but, just because they are private, that doesn’t mean copyright holders don’t enforce their rights. You don’t want to get caught up in the world of illegal downloads. If you get caught, and it’s easier to get caught once the file is on your computer, you could be facing some pretty steep fines.
Stick to sites like Archive.org, or similar sites that deal in public domain torrents, or where rights holders have authorized free sharing, and you should be fine.
Search For The File You Want
Using the search function on most of these sites is pretty straightforward. When you do search, use advanced search features, just to be safe. These advanced features may help you weed out any copyright-protected material, or find material that’s licensed in such a way so as to allow sharing.
Download An Available Torrent
Click on the torrent link of the non-infringing file you want to download, and use your client to pick up the slack, and start downloading the file. When it’s done, you’ll be notified. Try to stick with a well-populated and available torrent. This means that there are more seeds than leeches. The more seeders, the better
Download A Torrent With a Good Quality
Opt for a higher-quality (larger) file if you’re downloading music or video – which should only be non-infringing. That will ensure that you have good quality on the downloaded file.
Verify That You Can Use The File
Before you seed your download, verify that you can actually open and use the file you’ve just downloaded. Unzip the file (if necessary), and then check the file extension. Once you’ve verified that everything looks kosher, seed and enjoy your download.
Debbie Warner loves making the internet fun and productive. With a mind for modern tech and a joy of helping others understand how apps and software work, she often blogs about the ins and outs of maximizing the web for the everyday user.