Depending on each country’s laws and how they are enforced, getting caught violating copyrights might result in fines. Find out where downloading is risky and what to do about it.

Copyright Crackdowns On Torrent Users

First of all, aside from fining individual users, torrenting websites have been banned in a lot of countries.

While countries have come up with new copyright law in our digital age, what the consequences are for downloaders varies greatly from place to place. Also good to know for traveling, or if you’re moving country, what are the countries with the biggest risk involved in torrenting content illegally?

Germany

Of all countries, Germany probably takes the cake for handing out the most copyright violation fees to consumers. German law firms representing rights holders are sending out ‘abmahnung’ letters to people they’ve caught in the act of uploading pirated content, asking to pay up. They have been recorded to charge up to 900 euro per illegally downloaded song or 2000 euro for downloading a movie.

Pirating internet users get identified by their computer’s IP address. It is harder to be identified while streaming than downloading, and the fines for that are also way lower, at 5 or 10 euro per film watched.

It is primarily the uploading part that is punishable, however; beware, if you are using a torrent client, you are also seeding automatically.

If you get to the point of receiving a letter asking for money, the advice is mostly to lawyer up since the law firm’s intention mostly is not to take people to court. It has been possible for downloaders to settle for less, even by sending their own counter proposal themselves.

Yikes, I’d rather avoid all this! Scroll down to see how to prevent getting into sticky situations.

Finland

This country’s claim to copyright infamy is confiscating a 9-year old’s Winnie the Pooh laptop for illegal downloading.

Because like Germany, Finland seems to have a similar system in place for getting money from copyright violators. Downloaders have been getting letters from law firms asking for 600 to 1500 euros. As with people in Germany, getting a lawyer is an option, though a few people have also ignored these letters without consequence.

Japan

The biggest risk in Japan for being punished seems to be when you are uploading Japanese content, arrests have been made for it. People in Japan have also received letters listing their torrent activity and asking them to stop. Overall, it doesn’t appear to be very severe. The Japanese government seeks rather to outlaw ‘leeching’ websites and to criminalize knowingly linking to content for illegal downloading.

France

The creation and internet laws called HADOPI in France have seemingly cost the government a lot more than it yielded, at a reported running cost of 12 million euro a year. Downloaders have gotten letters and emails with warnings and France’s unusual tactic in addition to fines is to temporarily cut off users from parts of the internet. They seem to operate on a three-strikes system, so you are not immediately in trouble. But receiving such an email could be a good prompt to action, so keep reading to find out what can be done to save your butt.

UAE

In 2017 a man in Dubai was jailed and fined Dh50,000 for being an administrator of a torrent uploader website where popular TV shows were available illegally.

That’s not what individual downloaders risk, but perhaps it’s a good idea to avoid appearing into the crosshairs of copyright justice folks.

USA

Aside from torrent users getting warnings from their internet service providers (ISPs), it’s unclear what the current situation is when it comes to fines for illegal downloading in the US. ISPs could be wary of turning in their customers and losing business. Back in 2012, several people had been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for downloading songs illegally.

Don’t become the next news headline and find out what can be done to avoid prosecution.

The Netherlands

So far no individual torrent downloaders seem to have gotten copyright fines in The Netherlands. In February this year, ISP Ziggo won a court case.  This meant Ziggo doesn’t have to handover user information to media company Dutch Film Works that could be used to identify torrent users.

However, the Dutch organization Brein, the enemy of free distribution, announced this year they’re developing special software to track down uploaders. They have already made a Plex user pay 750 euros in a settlement. This particular user advertised his media library on Reddit for sharing against a fee, and it was probably Paypal that revealed his identity.

The situation seems to develop by the day, but perhaps you should be on the fence about continuing business as usual.

How To Protect Yourself From Copyright Violation Fines

First of all, since many of us are living in a country with fines for downloading, it is important to make sure people are not using your Wifi who shouldn’t, and to have conversations with any roommates or family members who share your internet connection about downloading.

Second, encrypt your torrents. In BitTorrent/uTorrent preferences go to ‘Protocol Encryption’ and then choose ‘forced’ for outgoing encryption and then ‘apply’.

Finally, the easiest solution is to subscribe to a reliable virtual private network (VPN) provider. The VPN conceals your real IP address so you won’t be identifiable to people wanting to send fines. Another added benefit is that you will have access to blocked torrent sites like The Pirate Bay if you connect to a country where it’s not outlawed.

Click here to find out our VPN recommendations for torrenting.

In Conclusion

Though Germany is the toughest when it comes to cracking down on torrenting, violating copyrights may put you at risk for fines in other countries as well. To stay ahead of the news and avoid penalties, the best thing to do is to get a solid VPN subscription. Happy torrenting!