Hi Lifehacker, I am very worried about my ISP shutting off my internet for downloading illegal torrents. How much trouble can I get in? Can I get sued or go to jail? Thanks, Nervous Torrenter
Don't want your internet shut down for downloading torrents of copyrighted TV shows and movies? Stop downloading them. That way you'll have nothing to worry about.
But you're not going to take that approach, are you? So here's the deal. We haven't actually seen a really big "copyright bust" for individuals downloading torrents in Australia, and we don't have a particularly consistent policy for dealing with it.
We saw an extended legal case where the movie industry wanted ISPs to be held responsible for the activities of their users, but that was repeatedly thrown out of court. We saw proposals for an industry code of conduct that might have seen repeat offenders cut off, but that hasn't gone anywhere. And there are suggestions that the Trans Pacific Partnership might see ISPs held responsible for the conduct of their users (and the cost of internet access go up as a result), but that agreement hasn't yet been signed.
As an individual, the most you're likely to see is an automatically generated legal letter warning you to stop downloading torrents. If you encrypt your torrents, even that is unlikely.
With all that said, downloading copyrighted material does mean you're breaking the law. You might well think it's a stupid law, and argue that entertainment providers need to rejig their business model given the ease with which their materials can be shared and are shared. But the only absolutely guaranteed way not to get in trouble is to find a different way to amuse yourself.
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