Torrenting in France

Whenever you download torrents in France, and assuming that you are connected through a French ISP, there will always be a chance that your activity will be monitored. You may be wondering how this kind of digital monitoring can be possible in a nation known for its fierce protection of personal privacy. 

The explanation for that question is the law behind the “Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Œuvres et la Protection des droits d’auteur sur Internet” law, more commonly referred to by its HADOPI acronym. In English, it translates as the Higher Authority for the Dissemination of Works and the Protection of Copyright on the Internet.

When discussing torrenting laws in France, the HADOPI regulation is the first and most important consideration. In this blog post, we’ll look at how it has changed the torrenting landscape in France over the last decade.

The Creation of the HADOPI

HADOPI is more than just a French law. The government dedicated a whole agency to enforce it. Its history dates back to 2009, when the administration of former President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed it. Interestingly, Sarkozy happens to be married to musical artist Carla Bruni. 

Sarkozy made HADOPI a priority during his term. Political analysts in France complained that he was influenced by his wife’s contacts in the recording and film industries in France. 

Even Sarkozy’s own party was not entirely on board with the proposed law, and it almost failed to pass in Parliament. The French National Assembly actually rejected it at first, but after a reconsideration request by the government, it eventually went through.

Did Torrenting Become Illegal in France After the HADOPI?

In 2009, the same year Sarkozy was pushing HADOPI, the French Constitutional Council declared internet access a fundamental human right. Since the BitTorrent protocol has been a component of the modern internet for a couple of decades, it stands to reason that torrenting in France is legal.

However, we also have to keep HADOPI in mind. Its was to deter the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted digital content on the internet. The key aspect of this law is centered on unauthorized distribution. 

In the end, what you should know about HADOPI is that the law prohibits the seeding or downloading of digital media that qualifies as copyrighted work with limited distribution rights.

Arcom Replaced HADOPI in 2022

Arcom logo

In January 2022, the HADOPI agency was replaced by Arcom, a new governmental group that is now in charge of enforcement. It stands for Autorité de régulation de la communication audiovisuelle et numérique. In English, it translates as Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication.

The organization was formed by merging HADOPI and the CSA, the High Audiovisual Council. The new agency is now tasked with enforcing all laws related to digital communication and is supposed to be more efficient, agile, and cost-effective. It’s supposed to be more proactive about pursuing online piracy when it comes to downloading copyrighted files and illegal streaming, such as live sporting events.

Even though copyright laws cover all kinds of digital file sharing, activity on BitTorrent networks is the most heavily monitored. That is probably because torrenting is currently the most popular and efficient technology for sharing files on the internet.

However, governmental agencies and ISPs do not actively monitor the torrenting activity of a particular user; that would be an invasion of privacy. The government must have a valid reason before enacting any punitive measures, usually resulting from a complaint. Those doing the monitoring are record labels, film and television production companies, and law firms retained to this effect. This kind of monitoring is not as sophisticated as many people think.

The use of monitoring applications

With an application such as ScanEye, you can glean information about the IP addresses of individuals who are either seeding or downloading copyright media. You can already do this with clients such as qBittorrent. From the “peers” tab, you can see the members of the swarm that forms when you download a torrent. In that section, you will see information such as IP addresses with their corresponding country flag. If the copyright file you are downloading is not authorized for torrenting distribution, everyone in the swarm with a French country flag could be subject to Arcom enforcement.

ScanEye and similar apps are modified versions of the original BitTorrent software engine. They are designed to make it easier to catch those downloading a copyrighted file. You will never know who in the swarm is monitoring on behalf of a record label or film production company because their client will never appear as ScanEye, and it is not illegal for them to use the software.

Consequences of Torrenting in France

In the beginning, HADOPI called for ISPs to suspend access to those caught engaging in copyright infringement. The Constitutional Council did not like such a provision because it limited free access to the internet. For this reason, the longest suspension handed under this law was about two weeks, and it was a scandalous affair decried by the press. 

In 2017, however, the HADOPI agency reported that it had identified nine million cases of “online piracy,” which mainly resulted in warning letters. Up to that date, prosecutors handled more than 2,000 HADOPI cases, but less than 900 made it to court, and 184 resulted in convictions with fines ranging from 60 to 1,500 euros. Unlike some countries with strict file-sharing laws, no one has been imprisoned for torrenting in France. 

How to Stay Safe when Torrenting in France?

If you enjoy using the BitTorrent protocol in France, there are a few things you can do to stay safe and avoid potential repercussions. Even if you are downloading non-copyrighted files, the best thing to do is to anonymize your traffic to avoid being monitored.

You can do this by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This tool masks your IP address and encrypts your traffic, so it cannot be traced back to your device. In other words, no one will be able to see what you are downloading.

The best VPN providers for torrenting in France

The best options will have fast servers in nearby countries and robust security features. Additionally, you should look for providers with a no-logging policy based in countries without data retention laws. These are our suggestions:



  • Many torrent servers in this region of Europe
  • Good features for torrenting, including a kill switch
  • Located in a neutral country (Panama)


  • It has a friendly attitude towards torrenting
  • Useful tools that make torrenting safer
  • VPN provider with a no-logging policy


Compared to other jurisdictions where ISPs are pressured by media companies to monitor torrenting activity, French ISPs will only do so if they receive a notice from Arcom. Only then are they obligated to confirm that you are one of those seeding or downloading copyrighted torrent files.

Still, the French record industry is pretty active in this regard, and copyright laws are undergoing a period of modernization.