Torrenting, also known as P2P file sharing, is a very popular endeavor for Aussies, but first we must answer a fundamental question.
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Is torrenting illegal in Australia?
As the general rule of thumb, downloading content via torrents is not illegal in any country as far as we know. However, the devil is in the details: it all depends on what type of content you’re downloading. The point being, if you’re downloading copyrighted material via torrenting, you’re engaging in an illegal activity under Australian law.
Torrenting in Australia
According to official surveys, torrenting in Australia is not as popular as it used to be, as it’s been decreasing since 2014. The drop in popularity is claimed to be due to the greater availability of legal content, according to a survey by the Australian government, the likes of streaming services such as Stan and Netflix.
In regard to torrenting preferences, most Australians use BitTorrent clients to download movies, music and video-games. It’s worth mentioning that since the Australian government blocked more than fifty pirate-websites which were known for sharing TV shows and movies illegally after a complaint from an anti-copyright theft group organization (Creative Content Australia), torrenting dropped by twenty percent year on year since 2014. For example, in 2016, 21 percent of Australians used pirated content, compared to 16 percent in 2017.
Torrenting in Australia is most popular among 18-24 year-olds, with almost seventy percent of the respective group admitting to have participated in some form of torrenting/online piracy as per a 2010 report. However, more than half of the country’s population used torrenting software to pirate TV shows and movies, according to the same report, i.e. torrenting is hugely popular among Aussies, regardless of age and social status.
As a fun factoid, a few years ago, the US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich has asked Australians via a Facebook message to stop downloading (illegally) the 3rd season of Game of Thrones. The point being, Australians take their torrenting seriously.
Legal documents defining the use of torrent sites/files
The Australian government passed a number of laws recently which allow “Big Brother” to track its citizens online, and we’re talking about mandatory data legislation and a Federal Court ruling which allows the authorities to pursue legal action against individual “pirates.” Also, in June 2015, the Australian Parliament passed The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill, aimed at curbing online piracy.
Legal consequences for torrenting of copyrighted material in Australia
The relevant legislation about downloading copyrighted material is a law passed way back in 1968, the Australian Copyright Act respectively. In order to become a criminal offence, users engaging in torrenting copyrighted content must do it on a commercial scale. However, if sued by rights owners, uploaders/sharers may be forced to pay statutory/compensatory damages which are basically uncapped, i.e. there’s no specified maximum liability under Australian law in regard to intellectual property.
Torrenting-related lawsuit statistics in Australia
The good news for torrenting aficionados is that Australia seems to practice a “laissez faire” policy in regard to internet piracy. Basically, there are no records of people fined in Australia for breaching the country’s online copyright laws in regard to torrenting.
How to torrent safely in Australia – use a VPN!
Now comes the fun part, as we’ll teach how to torrent safely and anonymously in Australia. Provided you already have a BitTorrent client (uTorrent/BitTorrent/whatever) installed on your machine, here’s a short step-by-step tutorial:
Step 1: choose a VPN service provider and download/install the software on your computer by following the instructions.
Step 2: select a P2P server (keep in mind that some VPN providers offer dedicated servers for torrenting) and connect to it.
Step 3: check to see if your real IP address is hidden before starting torrenting. Click here to see your real IP address, then check it again with the VPN service started and see if it changes.
Step 4: when the VPN connection is established and your real IP address is changed, you can safely start torrenting.
Best VPN for torrenting in Australia
NordVPN is arguably the best VPN for torrenting in Australia. Why? There are multiple reasons, and the most important ones are about privacy and safety. Australia is part of the five-eyes alliance, which makes for an Anglophone intelligence alliance between 5 states (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States); basically, Australia monitors all internet traffic, including citizens’ private communications via the ECHELON surveillance system, among other things.
Panama-based (that’s a huge plus with regard to jurisdiction) NordVPN has achieved legendary status among torrenting aficionados due to its zero-logs privacy centric policy. A VPN provider that clearly enforces a zero-log policy means that all your online activities, including torrenting, are not stored by NordVPN’s servers, and the same goes for your IP address and your name, including “metadata.” Nothing is store or shared with anyone, including Big Brother.
And speaking of safety, NordVPN offers AES-256 encryption as standard for all their network traffic, including torrenting. On top of that, you’ll benefit from various connection protocols, along with a built-in kill switch feature, which will protect your anonymity when torrenting even if your internet connection drops for whatever reason.
Torrenting is all about download speed, and here NordVPN really shines, as it offers world-class and reliable services for torrenting, the likes of a dedicated IP address, which provides you with the same IP address on specific servers, along with Tor Over VPN and Double VPN. The Tor Over VPN thing is a rather unique feature, and it will make your internet traffic virtually untraceable. If you’re a torrent maniac, this feature will make you sleep better at night.
And then, there’s the Double VPN feature, which offers double protection, as in double encryption, as the name suggests. According to security experts, this encryption is basically unbreakable. However, using this cool feature may provoke a drop in download speeds. But hey, security first, right?
Last but not least, NordVPN actually encourages torrenting, as they offer servers on their vast network (over 5,700 servers in 60 countries) which are optimized for P2P sharing, i.e. when you choose a P2P server, you’ll be automatically connected to the best one for torrenting, based on your location and connection type. And you can also select a server manually, from a list of countries. Finally, NordVPN is compatible with all major OS’es, including macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android etc., and it allows six simultaneous connections from one account.