Is Torrenting in the USA Safe in 2020?

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Is Torrenting in the USA Safe in 2020? Anybody who knows their work around the internet understands that snagging a film or expensive software package at no cost is only a torrent site away. That gives more than a moral dilemma. There is also online security to weigh and whether torrenting will draw notice from the authorities.

First of all, the pursuit of torrenting is not inherently unconstitutional. The technology is just a way to share content online. Where you can get into trouble is hosting, downloading, or sharing copyright-protected files. That includes the most famous movies, music, and software.

If you do that, it implies as you have stolen something as surely as if you walked into the local Walmart and sprinted out moments later with DVDs falling out of your pockets with a security guard in half-hearted pursuit.

Whether it’s safe and the likelihood of getting caught, the answers are “not completely” and “there’s a chance.” Let’s talk about torrenting a bit before we see how legal or illegal it is. If you’re currently having trouble accessing P2P sites, you may want to check out our article on how to unblock torrent websites.

Need for Torrenting in the USA – Why?

What’s torrenting anyway? Torrenting is file sharing through peer-to-peer (P2P) connections. File sharing (of non-copyrighted content) is legal—but torrent aficionados still face a few grave challenges, particularly in the US.

Suspicious torrenting sites

If a torrenting website is deemed to be enabling the sharing of copyrighted stuff—otherwise called piracy—it can be blocked or shut down indefinitely.

Many torrenting websites have been closed down within the US. This act, far from stopping the unauthorized use of torrenting and file sharing, actually puts users at greater risk.

As trusted and upstanding websites vanishes, shadier ones often take their place. These generally have annoying pop-up ads and suspicious torrents from unverified uploaders, endangering you to viruses and malware.

It takes just one wrong click before you “summon” a hacker into your machine. They may access or sell your personal data, or your system may get hijacked completely.

Without the additional security and data protection of a VPN, torrenting is no longer safe in the US.

Copyright trolls

If you’re torrenting without protection, your first primary concern comes from copyright trolls.

These companies, usually acting on behalf of big movie studios and music labels, are overly aggressive and could target you even if you download only non-copyrighted content. Results range from warning letters to large fines and even the threat of jail time—not pleasant things to contemplate.

Copyright trolls have been very active in the US since the late 2000s. In 2018, more than 3,300 lawsuits were directed at BitTorrent users.

With the rise of copyright trolls, gone are the days when torrenting-related lawsuits were mainly a scare tactic. The trolls aim to expose the torrent user and settle the case out of court—usually for thousands of dollars. It has become just another way to make money, with many comparing it to extortion.

This trend is alarming, but it’s not the only problem for P2P users.

Connection throttling

Torrenting is heavy on your bandwidth. Downloading big files at high speeds takes a lot—in many cases, more bandwidth than your internet service provider (ISP) is willing to give.

Many ISPs in the US will intentionally slow you down if they see you’ve been using up “too much” data. This shady practice is called throttling, and it isn’t limited to just torrents. (Have you ever noticed your internet acting up when you’re streaming Netflix in HD?)

It might not be as random as you think. That’s why you need to be able to hide what you’re doing from your ISP.

What Happens if You Get Caught Torrenting in the USA

If you’re caught torrenting by your ISP, you face many serious issues. ISPs can immediately identify which of their customers are using P2P software and take action without using a VPN.

Even if you are not breaking copyright law, the first response to expect is having your internet speed deliberately slowed down. This is the ‘connection throttling’ we discussed earlier. While not a legal issue, it’s incredibly inconvenient, and you may not even know it’s happening.

And here comes the bloodsucker aka your ISP

At the same time, your Internet Service Provider will record you for torrenting on a legally required database to keep (more on this below). They will also record what you were torrenting, in case of copyright infringement.

Once you have been caught and recorded by your ISP, expect a warning letter threatening to cut off your internet connection if you continue. If you ignore the warnings, you’ll lose your connection and possibly be blacklisted among other ISPs.

Every ISP in the USA is required to keep a record of all their customers caught torrenting. This database can be subpoenaed by the government at any time and forwarded to copyright agencies. Most ISPs voluntarily give the government and copyright agencies access to their records regularly.

Now expect a legal notice landing to your door

Once the copyright agencies – the ‘trolls’ already mentioned – have your personal details, they will target you with legal action. This starts with a letter threatening a massive fine. If you refuse to pay the fine or ignore the letter altogether, you will face further threats and a court case. If you have been caught consistently breaching copyright laws, you may also be threatened with jail time.

To dispute the charges and have the fines reduced, you must go to court, defending yourself against the copyright trolls. For most people, the legal process ends in paying an out-of-court settlement to the copyright trolls.

From the first warning letter to the final settlement, this can all take months. The whole affair is incredibly stressful, time-consuming, and expensive.

The only way to stop it happening is to use a VPN.

Use a VPN to Make Your Torrenting Life A Safe Haven

As you can see, torrenting in the US is not so simple if you want to preserve your security (or even internet quality). Fortunately, with a solid VPN, you have nothing to worry about.

The most important part is to mask your P2P traffic and make it undetectable.

A VPN secures your connection by changing your IP address and encrypting your data, so it remains private. When you connect to a particular torrenting server provided by the VPN, you effectively hide your traffic details—including the P2P portion of it.

You will be hidden even from your ISP; at most, it will only see that you’re connected to a VPN server.

Here’s what this means for you: Your data will remain safe from hackers and snoopers, and your ISP won’t throttle your speed or get the chance to spy on you.

Also read: 5 Best VPN for Torrenting & P2P File Sharing 2020

If you accidentally download copyrighted material from a torrent site, it can’t be traced back to you, saving you from a potential lawsuit and hefty fines. Of course, we do not condone video or music piracy, but we do believe that you should share copyright-free files without fear of being targeted by copyright trolls.

Not all VPNs support P2P connections for torrenting, so choosing your service carefully is crucial. Luckily, we’ve done the legwork for you.

Below, you’ll find the five most suitable VPN providers for downloading torrents. Happy torrenting!

The Best VPNs for Torrenting in the US

1. NordVPN

VPN
NordVPN
Location
Panama
Servers
5,800+ in 59 Countries
Price
3.49$/mo
Support
24/7 Live chat
Refund
30 days
Website
  • Double encryption for added security
  • Automatic kill switch
  • A variety of platform support
  • Six simultaneous connections
  • Zero log keeping policy of internet activities
  • 3-Day free trial
Get 70% off NordVPN (drops the price down to $3.49 per month)
(Discount is applied automatically)
(See the NordVPN review for more test results and analysis.)

2. ExpressVPN

VPN
ExpressVPN
Location
British Virgin Islands
Servers
3,000+ in 94 Countries
Price
8.32$/mo
Support
24/7 Live chat
Refund
30 days
  • Unlimited Bandwidth with Ultra Speed
  • Provides all VPN protocols OpenVPN (TCP, UDP), L2TP-IPsec, SSTP, and PPTP
  • Dedicated VPN Apps for Android & iOS
  • High-End Security with OpenVPN 256-bits
  • Zero log keeping policy of internet activities
  • 3 simultaneous connections
Get 35% off ExpressVPN (drops the price down to $8.32 per month)
(Discount is applied automatically)
(See the ExpressVPN review for more test results and analysis.)

3. Surfshark

VPN
Surfshark
Location
British Virgin Islands
Servers
1,700+ in 63+ Countries
Price
1.99$/mo
Support
24/7 Live chat
Refund
30 days
Website
  • AES 256-Bit Network Encryption
  • Chrome Extension Available
  • Kill-Switch functionality
  • A variety of platform support
  • Zero log keeping policy of internet activities
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
Get 83% off Surfshark (drops the price down to $1.99 per month)
(Discount is applied automatically)
(See the Surfshark review for more test results and analysis.)

4. CyberGhost

VPN
CybberGhostVPN
Location
Bucharest, Romania
Servers
6,200+ in 87+ Countries
Price
2.75$/mo
Support
24/7 Live chat
Refund
45 days
  • Uses AES 256 Encryption
  • Supports OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP
  • DNS & IP Leak Protection
  • Uses 2048 Key & MD5 Authentication
  • Zero log keeping policy of internet activities
  • Up to 7 Simultaneous Connections
Get 79% off CybberGhostVPN (drops the price down to $2.75 per month)
(Discount is applied automatically)
(See the CybberGhostVPN review for more test results and analysis.)

5. Private Internet Access

VPN
Private Internet Access
Location
United States
Servers
3,320+ in 30+ Countries
Price
2.85$/mo
Support
24/7 Live chat
Refund
7 days
  • Offers all Protocols PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec including SOCKS5 Proxy
  • IPv6 Leak Protection & DNS Leak Protection
  • Kill-Switch functionality
  • Encrypted Wi-Fi Protection
  • Zero log keeping policy of internet activities
  • 10 simultaneous connections
Get 71% off PIA (drops the price down to $2.85 per month)
(Discount is applied automatically)
(See the PIA review for more test results and analysis.)

Conclusion 

What you have heard is true: file-sharing in the US can quickly turn into a massive headache. With a solid VPN, you can remove the risk and torrent away in peace. Quality service from our list will help you avoid costly lawsuits while keeping you safe and hidden online.

Are you still unsure as to which VPN to subscribe to? Take NordVPN, our #1 recommendation, for a test drive—its easy user interface and solid security protections make it ideal for experts and beginners!

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