Is it illegal to download torrents?

Torrents were developed as a solution to large-file download bottlenecks, created to stop file shares from leeching, that is, downloading files and not sharing them. In a nut shell, torrents work by spreading the burden of downloading to all users who have the file (Norton, 2006). Torrents are a legal and fast way to trade files. However, the type of files one trades can be illegal if it is protected by copyright and privacy laws.

The problem with illegal torrent downloading is that it is seldom enforced. How can something be illegal, yet not enforced, it defeats the purpose of making something illegal as there is no negative incentive for the crime. One of the issues with enforcing torrent laws is the way the Internet is structured; it is a complicated system that is difficult to monitor without over stepping one’s privacy.

I’m sure programming, recording, movie, and publishing industries will figure out a way to stop the illegal download of coyrighted material. Until then, torrents are by nature legal, however, the files that are download may not be.


Norton, P. (2006, Feb 07). Torrents; we’ve all heard bits and pieces about BitTorrent, here and there, true and untrue – it’s used for trading illegal files.. PC Magazine, 25, 1-112. Retrieved from

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