Torrenting, in and of itself, is not an illegal act. It’s simply a way for people to share files with each other all around the world. As we all know, this can be used to help distribute copies of copyrighted materials and works, which then is an illegal act in many countries.
Due to the ease that people can transfer copyrighted content to each other, many countries have made torrenting sites illegal. On top of that, they actively seek out these sites to shut them down. Luckily, there are a handful of countries where it is possible to safely use torrent sites, at least to a certain degree.
Everybody loves the Swiss, and for great reason, too. Switzerland is known for having fairly progressive laws on a number of topics and areas of interest. The ability to use torrents and torrent sites to download and share content is a good example of that attitude.
According to Swiss law, it is illegal to upload copyrighted works to torrent sites. This has been the law for some time and there are no indications of a change. Even with recent changes to the Swiss copyright laws, there is no reason to think it will become legal to upload material that you do not own the rights to or have permission to distribute.
On the downloading side of things, it is a lot more user-friendly as far as the Swiss law is concerned. It is legal to download copyrighted content, as long as you are going to be using them for personal use. While this is somewhat vague, if you are downloading a movie via P2P and you don’t plan to make money off it, you will be safe from the law.
To help make things even better, Switzerland has laws in place to protect the privacy of its citizens. These regulations extend to the prevention of 3rd parties from monitoring what is downloaded via file-sharing sites. Since IP addresses are considered personal data, it is illegal to collect personal information without consent. This will bar ISPs and other companies from monitoring downloads such as torrents.
Another very safe space for torrent users is the brilliant country of Spain. The laws regarding copyrighted materials and file-sharing are similar to Switzerland, making it a very popular activity throughout the whole country. Over the years, multiple court cases have determined the current state of Spain’s copyright laws.
Through court cases in the early 2000s, Spanish judges and courts have ruled that it is legal to download copyrighted works as long as you are not attempting to profit from them. This is comparable to Switzerland’s regulations of personal use.
More recent cases have made companies that host pirated content or allow downloads of pirated content more illegal. Again, this is only if they are profiting from this, such as advertising links. Peer-to-peer file-sharing platforms are generally exempt from these laws. But there have been exceptions made by banning sites like The Pirate Bay.
The monitoring of downloaded content from file-sharing sites is also illegal in Spain. The only exception to this would be in the case of a criminal investigation or public safety concerns. This is because your IP address is considered personal data and it cannot be collected without your consent.
Mexico is another favorite for fans of file-sharing and torrents. Currently, there are no laws that address the non-commercial downloading and sharing of copyrighted materials. Basically, this gives people free-reign to download and share files as they wish.
There are some politicians and prominent figures in Mexico that are looking to update these laws, but they are not making a lot of headway.
We are now leaving friendly waters for more dangerous, muddier waters. In the Netherlands, it is legal to download and reproduce copyrighted materials as long as:
- You are not creating the reproduction with the intent of making money.
- You are only using it for your personal use, and are making only a limited number of copies. This does not extend to software.
On the other hand, it is illegal to upload copyrighted content. This means you are not allowed to seed torrents as you are downloading them. If seeding is turned off, this can make downloading via torrent sites legal, as long as it is not software. This is not all set in stone and can change in the future as these laws evolve in the country.
As a little side note, the Netherlands has found a way to help creators get paid for these personal use copies being downloaded and made. By imposing a small surcharge on media such as blank CDs and DVDs, and some electronics like tablets and hard drives, the Dutch government is able to compensate artists and other creators.
Countries not listed are generally deemed unsafe for torrenting. In some of them, such laws may be overlooked or not prioritized highly, meaning a lower chance of dealing with the authorities.
These are the four safest countries for fans of downloading and sharing movies, music, and more. It should be noted that these laws are meant as guidelines and can change at any time by the respective governing bodies.