Various countries around the world aren’t fond of P2P activity and torrenting. But most countries don’t ban it. The reason being is that countries can’t really effectively ban the BitTorrent protocol since most torrent clients can bypass restrictions. If you have come here for that answer, then you can leave if you wish. The answer is that not any country bans P2P/BitTorrent per se.
However, piracy is almost banned everywhere in the world. The reason being is that countries have strict copyright laws and they don’t want users to download illegal content. Some countries like Switzerland are almost compliant with P2P downloading even with copyrighted content. However, a vast majority of countries in the world are not torrent friendly when it comes to illegal downloads.
Now let’s be clear, again. There’s a difference between banning P2P/Torrent activity compared to banning piracy. Most countries in the world allow P2P activity and torrenting–or tolerate it, or just can’t do anything about it, but those same countries still don’t allow piracy. Most users use P2P activity and torrenting to pirate content. While there’s nothing wrong with the specific BitTorrent protocol itself, pirating is illegal in most countries. And depending on the country, there can be some serious fines.
Here are some countries that ban The Pirate Bay, so you can’t access it at all, which is a good indicator of not supporting piracy or being aggressive against torrenting:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Iran, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom.
Which Countries are Safe For Torrenting?
So while you can torrent in most countries safely with a VPN active, there are a few countries which are theoretically a little bit more “pirate” friendly than others. In the US, and many other places, it won’t be long before you get a copyright notice in the mail or your email warning you about copyright infringement and illegal downloads. In some countries, you could be jailed.
Regardless of where you live, you should always use a proxy or VPN for torrenting, just as a friendly reminder. Check out this guide on how to setup a proxy with torrenting, which is my preferred method.
Swiss law is super “lax” when it comes to piracy. The reason being is that downloading music and movies for personal use seems to be legal. If you are just downloading something and not distributing it for profit or distributing it to a large amount of users, then you should be OK. Additionally, monitoring third parties cannot log P2P activity in Switzerland, whereas in other countries, this is the main way people get caught for downloading content.
In Switzerland, your “IP address” (which is the number that identifies your computer on the internet) is considered personally identifiable information (which it should be). This can easily be traced and found in a torrent swarm (a collection of users downloading a file and sharing it). You cannot collect personal info without consent in Switzerland, so you can see which this would be considered a crime to monitor and collect IPs.
However, that said, in the past it hasn’t stopped Swiss police from coming after distributors of content in Switzerland, like The Pirate Bay. The reason being is that the site is distributing content all over the world which upsets many companies forcing the Swiss into action.
While you should be OK without a VPN in Switzerland torrenting content, I would still recommend one just to be safe. Setting up an automatic proxy is super easy and takes no effort after the first few minutes.
In 2006, a Spanish Judge ruled that it’s OK to download copyrighted files for personal use as long as there is no intent to profit from said files. This may seem super strange, but that’s what has happened in the past. Of course, this was awhile ago.
In Spain, your personal IP is also considered more private than in other countries. It can only be investigated with criminal suspicion, and file sharing is considered a civil matter outside of that jurisdiction–which makes sense.
With these relaxed rules and jurisdictions, it means that a lot of Spanish citizens love to use file-sharing websites. Remember the list from before? Oh yeah, the Pirate Bay is blocked here. So Spain is definitely onto piracy, but they don’t seem interested in punishing it per-se, just restricting it. So you’ll still need a VPN to access the site and then to download torrents.
In the Netherlands, it’s not illegal to download content like music, books, tv shows, or movies, but it’s illegal to distribute them. Since P2P works through seeding and leeching (uploading and downloading) the very nature of the protocol is compromised activity. If you download, but not seed, you could be OK. However, the Pirate Bay is also blocked here as well, so you’ll need a VPN to access The Pirate Bay in the Netherlands.
Mexico just has very little intellectual property protection. That, as well as the low income per citizen, means file-sharing very popular here. Over 90% of the music downloaded in Mexico is rumored to be through the BitTorrent protocols.
Across the world, people are downloading files like crazy. That’s the simple truth. However, governments, and companies are starting to create a backlash, and even if laws don’t forbid P2P and Bittorrent, there are ways to still ban access to P2P and Bittorrent by banning the source–like banning The Pirate Bay, one of the best places to find torrents and download them.
In order to access The Pirate Bay, or any other torrent website and Pirate Bay Alternatives, or just to protect yourself while doing so, I recommend using a VPN. Check out one of the three below, which are decent options.