Millions Download TV Shows For FreeBy Steph Myers / May 25, 2017 / Tags: Cut Cable
Millions of people are illegally downloading TV shows and movies for free — but thanks to modern technology, most have avoided penalties so far.
Here’s the truth — today, virtually every TV show episode and movie is available to download for free. Here’s another truth — while downloading copyrighted content without permission is illegal, millions of people are doing just that while prosecutors have struggled to find and penalize them, thanks to the methods today’s “pirates” use to hide their identities online.
Have those who download TV and movies anonymously found an ingenious loophole? A way to get all their entertainment for free, with no consequences? Or is it only a matter of time before copyright holders — and the federal government — get the upper hand in the online piracy battle?
What Is Downloading Or “Torrenting”?
Downloading means you literally download files of TV episodes or other content from the internet to your computer or device, so you can watch them on-demand anytime you want.
When it comes to downloading large files, like TV shows, a method called “torrenting” is used. The very large video files that make up a TV episode or movie are broken up into a bunch of smaller files, called torrents. Torrents are then shared across peer-to-peer (P2P) networks.
Torrenting has many legitimate uses, but the term has gotten a bad reputation due to its connection with pirating TV. Indeed, quite often when you hear the word torrenting it’s referring to just that.
Is Downloading/Torrenting A Punishable Offense?
Downloading copyrighted content without the copyright holder’s permission — aka video piracy — is widely accepted as being a violation of copyright law. If a user engages in illegal downloading, they are typically tracked down by their Internet Service Provider (ISP) — often within minutes of starting a download — as well as by the copyright holder.
Copyright holders include huge, powerful companies like Disney, Netflix, HBO, the MPAA, and others. In the US, there have been lawsuits and huge fines levied on offenders found guilty of illegal downloading. With the passing of a new US law, ISPs can now not only track customers’ online activities, but collect, store, and share the data with third parties. It’s not hard to imagine ISPs targeting at the request of corporations or government agencies.
But the truth is, people have gotten so smart about downloading anonymously that, to date, most have never been penalized. One common way people hide their identity is by using a high-security VPN service.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a legitimate and highly-recommended tool for online privacy and security. So it’s unlikely copyright protectors would ever try to target VPN providers or users. (I use NordVPN to stay safe and private online — great for banking or when using public WiFi. It has military-grade security measures and dedicated torrenting servers. It’s a PC Magazine Editor’s Choice 2017-2015 and has a 30-day money-back guarantee. Right now, you can get it for only $3/month with their spring deal.)
Today, Downloading Shows Is Easy & Accessible
Between VPNs and torrenting software, today’s technology has advanced to the point that just about anyone with an internet connection can download TV shows and movies for free — while making it difficult for copyright watchdogs to track their activities. Doing so is cheap, easy, and fast. In short, it’s a growing nightmare for TV networks and movie makers.
Below are the steps of one popular method people are using to download TV and movies anonymously, and thus to reduce their risk of legal consequences. Is it as foolproof as believed? In arms races, the other side usually gets the upper hand eventually.
Step 1) They get a trusted VPN
1a) They sign up for a secure, high-speed VPN like NordVPN. Not all VPNs take anonymity seriously. Those that do are the go-to choice for torrenters. It’s also necessary for torrenters to use a VPN that allows P2P networking, and that won’t slow connections. Here are three of the most popular VPNs people are using to download securely and at the fastest speeds.
1b) They connect to a server with maximum security and privacy. (With NordVPN, users connect to either a ‘Double VPN’ or a ‘Tor Over’ server.)
Step 2) They get torrenting software (free)
Step 2a) They download torrenting software. Special software is needed to download torrent files. There are several excellent, free torrent applications out there. These applications have many legitimate uses and are very useful for downloading all sorts of large files. One of the most popular is qBitTorrent.
Step 2b) The open the application
Step 3) The find TV episodes to download.
**NOTE: This is where people get in trouble if they don’t have a VPN turned on and connected to a server.
Step 3a) They go to TorrentZ .com and search for shows and movies. TorrentZ is a torrent search engine that searches thousands of collections to deliver the best downloads. It gets about 250 million visitors every month! To find specific episodes of shows, searchers need only use this format: S01E01. For example, to watch Game of Thrones, Season 3, Episode 5, search for “Game of Thrones S03E05.”
Step 4) They start downloading.
**NOTE: This is the other step in which people get in trouble if they aren’t using a trusted VPN.
Step 4a) They copy and paste torrent links from TorrentZ into the torrenting software application. With qBitTorrent, users just hit the link button in the top left corner to add a torrent link, paste it in, and hit ‘download.’
Step 4b) After the file has finished downloading, they watch it with any media player. Many people also send downloaded content to a streaming device (Roku, Apple TV, etc.) to watch on a big-screen TV.
Downloading Versus Streaming
Even for those who don’t mind taking their chances breaking the law, torrenting isn’t for everyone. Torrenting websites don’t always offer the best user experience. Plus, it can take a long time to download a single TV episode or movie.
So many people who don’t care for it but still want to watch TV and movies for free use Kodi. In fact, the number of people who use Kodi has been steadily rising — much to the dismay of TV broadcasters.
Instead of downloading content, Kodi users stream the shows and movies they want to watch. Since there’s no need to wait around for a file to finish downloading, it’s much faster than torrenting, without the need to plan ahead. Plus, users can watch live TV and live sports on Kodi, adding to its appeal. Of course, there’s also an ongoing debate about whether Kodi is legal, so it’s also highly recommended everyone use Kodi with a VPN. Learn more about what Kodi is and how to use it.
The War Wages On
Downloading content for free is not something to take lightly. Certainly the federal government and copyright holders don’t. The legal consequences for anyone caught breaking copyright laws can be very real, and very severe. The fact that so many millions of people have been torrenting without repercussions so far doesn’t mean this state will last.
Technology changes, laws change, the hunters get smarter as the hunted grow lax. For now, the copyright holders certainly seem to be on the losing end. (In the time it took you to read this, plenty of people downloaded today’s most popular shows for free.) But things change quickly, especially where technology — and money — is concerned.
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