Torrenting is an Internet phenomenon and method which has been utilized for a significant amount of time now. Since the dawn of the Internet, people have looked for ways to steal free and full versions of movies, music and other forms of media which are traditionally protected behind a paywall. However, the power of the people has never swayed before, and it would not here either.
Torrenting software quickly popped up during the past times of the Internet, allowing people to download forms of media without paying. Torrenting had become so popular that huge websites were set up for the sole purpose of hosting torrents of everything you could ever imagine. Millions of users across the world downloaded this media for their own personal gain, while companies lost huge amounts of money in the process.
The most popular of these sites would be The Pirate Bay, which garnered massive success in its hosting. However, throughout recent times, torrenting has been cracked down on by Internet providers across the world, and the law came down hard on The Pirate Bay, forcing the website underground, now survived by copies of itself on different proxy websites. Amongst the sea of torrent sites, there are a few which stand out. These include Kickass Torrents, which is still running to this day, albeit on different website hosting services which change regularly to avoid prosecution.
This article will focus on the history of Kickass Torrents, as well as how people utilize torrent sites such as the previously mentioned, and how people actually torrent.
The history of Kickass Torrents
Kickass Torrents (KAT) was founded in 2008 as a peer to peer file facilitation website using the BitTorrent protocol. It quickly became one of the most visited torrent websites in the world. With tens of millions of users on the website, the amount of files grew immensely, featuring all kinds of media. The owner raked in millions of dollars a month based solely on ad revenue.
However, with government becoming more and more aware of torrenting and online piracy in general, the website quickly caught the attention of federal police in the United States. In 2016, the website was seized by federal agents. After this, it consistently moved domains to keep its uptime for its users, with the operators planning to move domains every 6 months. Overseas in Poland, the alleged owner “Artem Vaulin” was arrested in Poland indicted on four charges related to the website.
As of today, the website continues to operate under different domains, and the owner is free in Poland, unable to leave the country and awaiting extradition requests to the United States.
What is a torrent and how does it work?
A torrent is a file which can be downloaded and opened within a torrenting platform. This platform will download the files from other peers who have already ‘seeded’ or uploaded the file before. By using these peers, you are downloading the file from them and in doing so, downloading the file to your own computer.
How to download torrents from kickass?
First, you must decide what form of media you want to download. Then, you must find your favourite available torrenting site. Once there, you must search for the torrent. A list of torrents should appear, and there you will see labels of ‘seeders’ and ‘leechers’. Seeders tell you how many people have downloaded and reuploaded the file. The more seeders there are, the faster the file will download to your computer. The higher the leechers are, the slower the file will download. Ideally, you will want to find a torrent which has a high number of seeders and a lowered number of leechers, as this will ensure an optimal download speed.
From this point, you must click ‘download magnet link’. This means that you are downloading a file which will automatically open in your installed torrenting software. The best software would be BitTorrent, uTorrent or BitComet. After the download, the file should open automatically in your chosen torrenting platform, and from here you choose your file location and hit download.
The torrent will appear in the torrenting platform, and a progress bar should appear. From this point, you just have to sit back, relax and open the file location once the download is complete, and enjoy!
The legality of torrenting
It wouldn’t be an appropriate torrenting article without us mentioning the legality surrounding torrenting, why it is so complex to prosecute as well as the consequences of torrenting.
Torrenting itself falls under a grey area of the law, which can make it difficult to argue in a court of law. Torrenting itself is not illegal, however using it to download copyrighted material for free is. Throughout the huge sea of torrents available on the Internet, it is not apparent or conveyed clearly which torrents are legal to torrent and which ones are not, which can create plausible deniability for a lot of users. Some of these torrents fall into a grey area, and users can often find themselves on the illegal side of torrenting unknowingly.
How do you get caught torrenting?
Internet service providers, the ones who provide the networks for you to connect to the Internet, constantly patrol through their networks checking for users who are illegally torrenting. If caught, they can choose to take action against you. The consequences can range from mild to severe, from a sternly written love letter to the throttling of your Internet speed to even legal action. It is unlikely that they will take legal action unless the illegal torrenting is of a large scale, however for many users it is still important to stay hidden from their Internet provider.
How do users hide from their Internet provider?
Users will do anything to stay hidden when illegally torrenting in order to avoid consequences. The majority of users will utilize a virtual private network, also known as a VPN, in order to hide their identity from their Internet provider, masking their actions online. A virtual private network works by creating a ‘tunnel’ to another server in a different geographic location. Your traffic is rerouted through this tunnel, effectively masking your actions online.
Your IP address will show up as the server you are connected to, making your identity essentially hidden. Using a VPN is a very simple process, consisting of downloading the software and pressing a button. This means the majority of users, regardless of if they are tech savvy or not, are able to use a VPN without much effort and avoid consequences. It is important to look for a VPN which doesn’t keep logs, as these can be used to prosecute you as evidence if authorities contact them and ask for the logs.
Kickass Torrent: Public vs Private trackers
Public trackers are defined as a website which has a search engine embedded into it which does not require a log in or require any authentication. The Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents and other similar websites are all considered to be public trackers, as they do not require a login to browse their wares. Private trackers are websites which are considered to be more exclusive. Usually requiring a login or some form of authentication, they are able to provide many different types of content of varying quality.
The benefits of using a private tracker website is that the downloads are usually faster and have higher quality files and downloads. The retention of the files are usually longer, and the overall experience is much more consistent and considered a safer experience. However, in the eyes of the law, public and private trackers are considered the same thing in terms of prosecution and will be considered as Internet piracy.
Streaming and torrenting
Streaming used to be much more popular than torrenting, as there were huge swathes of website dedicated to streaming illegally downloaded movies. However, the recent rise in awareness of Internet piracy means that many of these websites have been shut down, making torrenting much more popular. Streaming websites are simple to access, and a user only has to use a search engine to find websites that stream movies. With many of them shut down, users are often left with inadequate streaming services which provide low quality media.
With torrenting, you are much more likely to find media easily which you can download and watch in your own time. Streaming often results in movies that buffer constantly and are of a low resolution quality. With torrents, downloads are relatively quick and you can pause and play media whenever you feel like it, rather than having to wait for buffering times.
With both streaming and torrenting movies, you are still breaking the law regardless of whether you stream the movie or download it. With streaming, you are also running the risk of the website logging IP addresses which are sent to law enforcement.
Kickass Torrent: Extra tips
When you looking to download torrents for movies, it is best to avoid newly released movies which have come out in the past 60 days. Usually, the torrents that come out for these movies are created by people who are recording the movie in a movie theatre and releasing the movie as a torrent file. Furthermore, copyright holders will be vigilant during this time period to tracking people torrenting newly released movies, making you more likely to experience prosecution when torrenting newly released movies.
You should also be wary of the torrents you are downloading. The most popular torrents often will be closely monitored by copyright holders. Moreover, torrents can contain viruses which can infect your computer. It is important to exercise caution when downloading anything from the Internet, and this is especially true for torrenting. You should carefully review the torrents you are looking to download and read the feedback comments before going ahead. Even if the comments are positive, you should scan the torrent with an antivirus software to ensure it is safe. However, often antivirus software will consider foreign files with no official branding to be a virus regardless of the contents of the file, and this should also be taken into consideration.
You should also be careful about the media you are torrenting. While most copyright holders in different industries are going after torrents, there are some industries which are aggressively targeting torrents. This is especially true for the music industry which goes after torrenters, especially those who upload, quite aggressively. Most of the time in these modern days, litigation is done on behalf of companies by copyright trolls. Copyright trolls will send out settlement letters to torrenters and will go through Internet providers in order to contact users. In doing so, the Internet provider might choose to take action against you. For these reasons, it is important to use a VPN when you are torrenting.
If you are very concerned about hosting torrents or using them, then you can choose to take further action to conceal your identity, however this may require further software which can become expensive and complex and may require a higher understanding of technology and software. It is not necessary to go to these lengths as you are not likely to face significant legal action unless you are hosting a website with the torrents.
Overall, torrents are an Internet phenomenon which many users across the world have taken advantage of. If you were to use torrents, you should ensure that you stay safe when doing so. Use a VPN and ensure that you vet your torrents before downloading them. Remember that torrenting copyrighter content is illegal and you should heed caution before doing so. Prosecution and action may not occur however it is always a risk, and you should remember this before choosing to go ahead with torrenting.
This has been an educational article on torrenting.
Torrenting is illegal and should not be used by anyone as it is a violation of the law and steals from people. This piece is for educational purposes only.