Avoiding the Dark Waters of BitTorrent
The BitTorrent protocol is the leading method for sharing illegal content and accounts for about half of all Internet traffic. BitTorrent works by breaking a file into chunks and distributing the chunks through a system of seeders and peers. Seeders have a complete copy of the file while peers are in the process downloading it. Both seeders and peers share chunks of the file with other peers.
This structure is extremely efficient for distributing large files and is not inherently illegal. In fact, the software benefits many companies needing to share legal content but lacking the resources to do so.
How do copyright violations occur with BitTorrent?
Every computer on the Internet is identified by an Internet Protocol (IP) address. An IP address functions like a mailing address and identifies where to send data to and who to receive data from.
Organizations representing media companies will sometimes connect to torrents for copyrighted content and log the IP addresses of users exchanging the file.
If your IP address is identified in connection with illegally sharing a file, a complaint is filed with your Internet Service Provider and can result in a settlement fee or court case.
Unfortunately, the main target for copyright infringement is the college student. If you are caught illegally sharing copyrighted content on campus, the university must comply with all legal requests and cannot and will not be able to protect you.