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Is Torrenting Illegal in Australia? [Laws & Fines]

Written by, Alex Bosnjak

Updated April, 28, 2022

The most popular and easiest way to download and distribute content on the internet is torrenting. After all, it’s free. You only need a working computer and an internet connection to share files with other users. 

Australia is among the countries with the fastest internet speeds, making it perfect for streaming online content. But is torrenting illegal in Australia? Let’s answer this question and find out more.

What Is Torrenting and How Does It Work?

First of all, you need to understand what torrenting is. It’s the act of downloading and uploading files through the BitTorrent network. You download the files from other users’ devices on the network instead of downloading them to a central server. Similarly, users upload files from their own devices for other users to download.

It’s the most widespread form of peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing, and it requires torrent management software to connect to the BitTorrent network. You can download it for free on many devices.

When someone downloads a movie from your computer, the file becomes available for downloading from two sources. Then, it increases exponentially. So, those who downloaded it also become “donors” and distributors of this material. Special programs determine who has access to the desired file and pinch off a piece of it for download. The more people share files, the faster their download speed.

Piracy Laws and Legislation in Australia

Is pirating illegal in Australia? Australia has a strict policy for dealing with internet piracy. In 2018, the parliament adopted a new law expanding site-blocking measures. The legislation has allowed copyright owners to apply for injunctions, forcing internet service providers to prevent their customers from accessing pirate sites.

According to the Australian legislation on data retention, internet service providers can store the data about the web user’s history for two years. So, whatever users do online isn’t private. The ISP can track that information and use it against you.

Fines for Torrenting in Australia

For the average user, torrenting in Australia could mean a fine. That can be up to $117,000 for individuals and up to $585,000 for corporations. You can also be imprisoned depending on what you’re found guilty of.

The Australian IP Government agency explained that fines are applied to users who sell, possess, distribute, or import copyrighted content. The copyright law requires ISPs to notify Australian users who try to access blocked websites. Your ISP can easily catch you by seeing your IP address. 

Compared to many countries with active torrenting communities, Australians face a greater risk of being fined. You might be subject to that even without downloading a single file. 

Is Torrenting Illegal in Australia?

The legality of torrenting in Australia remains a complicated subject. While it’s not illegal, it can become a problem if you’re downloading copyrighted materials to which you don’t own the rights (like a movie, song, or ebook). 

According to the report released by the global accounting firm EY, Australians are famous for illegally downloading copyrighted material. So, the country’s ISPs constantly monitor internet traffic, searching for illegal downloads or streaming services.

Be sure to check the rules and regulations before downloading files. If you’re unsure whether the content you download is copyrighted, you should take additional precautions. 

Can a VPN Help With Torrenting?

Along with being cautious about the content you download and the torrenting sites you visit, you should use a Virtual Private Network to protect you downloading torrents in Australia. But not all VPNs are effective, so many people opt for sought-after VPN providers. 

It doesn’t matter how fast your internet connection is since most reliable VPNs quickly handle the load. This software hides your IP address, keeping copyright trolls and ISPs off your back. Just double-check to ensure that your actual IP address remains hidden behind the VPN server. 

What Is Allowed to Download via Torrent?

Generally, it’s not illegal to download torrents in Australia. The technology is perfectly fine from a legal standpoint. So it’s not the distribution via torrent file-sharing that makes the act illegal or unsafe but the material it contains. 

In other words, if you stick to legal torrent sources, you’ll be fine. The problems arise when Australian citizens download copyrighted files, including major theatrical movie releases, TV shows, and pornography. 

Conclusion

Staying on the right side of the law while torrenting is crucial to avoid fines. If you want to protect your privacy, getting trustworthy VPN software is a good option. Finding a reliable VPN for torrenting is essential. You can also stop seeding from your device to steer clear of crossing the line.

FAQ

Is downloading illegal in Australia?

According to Australian law, it’s illegal to download movies, music, ebooks, and other copyrighted content. So perhaps it’s better to pay a few pounds for that movie you want to watch rather than worry about legal issues.

Can you get fined for torrenting in Australia?

If you’re caught torrenting, which is a major possibility if you’re doing it unprotected, you could face a fine or lawsuit. That can be up to $117,000 for individuals and up to $585,000 for corporations. 

Is it illegal to use a VPN in Australia?

It’s legal to use a VPN in Australia. But you should never engage in illegal activity while using a VPN.

Can you go to jail for torrenting?

So, is torrenting illegal in Australia? Australians may get in trouble if they use torrents for pirated content. Unlike most other countries, sharing copyrighted content can be viewed as a criminal offense. In the worst-case scenario, you can go to jail for doing it and be arrested for up to five years.