Unless you have been living under a rock the last 15 years, you certainly have heard about free downloading. Hey, maybe you were a hermit, or you vowed to cut out the internet for the last decade, or maybe you were in a coma. In any event, we’re taking it for granted that you already know what file sharing, torrenting, and “illegal” downloading is.
Despite the fact that many people do have ethical viewpoints for why you should download regular (“copyrighted”) movies, music, and software, we’re not going to get into that philosophical debate in this post. Instead, we want to share with you the top ten perfectly ethical – perfectly legal and good – reasons to torrent or pirate movies, software, or other digital media.
You might be wondering, what stuff is legal to download? Or perhaps you’re asking, how can I download torrents legally? Or you might be wondering, are torrents legal? Can I use bittorrent? Is bittorrent safe? How do I download torrents? Well, first let me give a disclaimer that I am not telling you to download copyrighted content. Why do I say that? Do I believe you shouldn’t? Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. However, I can’t legally tell you it’s ok to download copyrighted content.
However, I will tell you what is perfectly legal to download. Not only is it legal to download these things, it is encouraged. And not only is it encouraged to download these things, it is actually recommended to share them as well. Here is the list of the top ten things you can legally download through torrents or any other means. Plus, sometimes it’s fun just to download stuff because it’s free. Everyone likes free stuff.
10 Rare or Old Books
Also, many old books are now public domain and the copyright has expired. This means it is now free to download, copy, and distribute. Old books are great for historical research, learning, and even just out of curiosity.
This also includes rare books that may have never been published to paper, such as controversial books on survival guides during the apocalypse or places to hide stuff that nobody will ever find them. Beware, other torrenters know where to find them now so don't rely on that.
It also includes defunct publications like old black and white popsci magazines from old times that someone gracefully scanned and you will never find anywhere else but by torrent.
This rare bookstore in New York is cool, but there are books and publications on the internet you can't get anywhere else.
9 3D Printer Designs & Physibles
There isn't a lot of this available yet since 3D printing is still relatively new and not everyone has one. Some of the designs that can be found includes printable gun parts, pinhole cameras, and heat motors. Yes, you heard me, you can get the designs to print a gun. Don't worry, I don't think you can print a complete gun yet; and even if you can, it won't fire without some metal parts or a really, really high quality 3D printer and material.
Ever since 3D printers have become popular, I have envisioned a world where there is a large index of 3D printable items of anything and everything. For example, if your mouse breaks, you can print a new one. Lost the handle to your cabinet door? Print a new one. A hinge broke on your laptop? Print a replacement. Lost that piece to your [kid's] lego set or train set? You can print another. The possibilities are endless.
Hopefully in the future there will be more and more 3D printer designs out there so anyone can print things they need.
Now you can illegally download I mean legally download real objects in real life.
8 Games You Already Own and Game Updates
Another reason people torrent games they own is because they don't want updates to the game. They might even use a cracked version even though they already bought the game because they would prefer not to have the game constantly contacting the game servers and using up their bandwidth. Other people just don't want the game automatically updating, especially since game developers sometimes release updates that have bugs or break game features.
Some games are also free to play, and it can be faster to download the games from torrent. Likewise, you can do the same thing with game updates for games you already own. Moreover, some Indie games are actually free, and some older games are no longer even available except by torrent.
Games you own are available by torrent for faster downloads, as well as faster downloads of game updates.
7 Indie Games, Older Games, Emulators, and Game Mods
Another thing you might not be aware of is that you can get emulators for almost all the old Nintendo, Super Nintendo, N64, and even many PS1 and PS2 games. There are also Sega Genesis emulators, Game Boy emulators, and Wii emulators. You can actually use an emulator to play Nintendo games in full 1080p on the big screen. Plus, emulators have saves that you can't lose like happens in the actual Nintendo console. Some emulators even improved on the existing game or scaled up the resolution.
There are even software to use controllers over bluetooth for a complete retro experience - or even a mix retro experience by using a PS3 or PS4 controller on a Nintendo game. Yes, you can get these programs and configuration files over torrent as well. Emulators are a really cool way to use torrents legally.
Additionally, some game mods like for Skyrim are developed by individual people and put on torrent, like massive many-gigabyte texture packs. It's not like you can get this elsewhere, and a third-party individual can put it on torrent for free without having to pay to host the file somewhere. It's totally legal to download these.
Indie games and older games like the Oregon Trail you might want to get by torrent if you can't find it elsewhere or if it's free. And imagine playing Super Mario World in HD on the big screen with a PS4 controller. If not for you, do it for your kids.
6 Linux/UNIX Distributions ISO Files
This Red Hat Linux ISO file will download much faster over torrent.
5 Obsolete Software
Don't know why you'd want this software, but maybe you have your reasons.
4 Free Music
Even very famous musicians, like 30 Seconds to Mars, are still in debt millions of dollars to their music label and have never earned a penny from their actual music sales. Sure, the label made them famous, but they never earned a penny from their music. The only way they make any real money is through shows and concerts. You can't torrent a concert experience or a music t-shirt. So people still go to concerts and buy merchandise.
Ok, so anyway, that is off-topic, but in reality because this is true, some music artists which aren't held hostage by their music label will put their music on torrent for free. They hope people love their music and come to the concerts and buy the merchandise, since that is where the real money is made by the actual musicians in the music industry. This strategy has worked.
Also, there is old music you can get that is now public domain and free to download and distribute, torrent or otherwise.
You might not be able to torrent the experience of a music concert, but now you can get a lot of music through torrent for free, legally.
3 Very Old Movies
Do you prefer The original 1951 version or the 2008 version of the science fiction classic "The Day The Earth Stood Still"?
2 Obsolete Television Shows
Pictured is a scene from the British vampire show Ultraviolet (1998) which only lasted 1 season. Although you can buy it online now, it didn't used to be available anywhere. Torrenters made it popular again.
1 Foreign Movies
You can find subtitles for many foreign movies easily by a quick web search. You can find it by searching for "(movie title) subs" or "subtitles". It will usually be in .srt format, which you can drop in the same folder and it will automatically be read by your video program like VLC Media Player or your DLNA media server. You can't always find the subtitles and they aren't often included in the torrent, but sometimes with some hard work searching the internet you can find it, and enjoy the movie. You might need to re-sync the .srt file by setting VLC to offset the time so that the subtitles line up with the video.
A couple of my favorite movies are in French and not available in my country. I don't even speak French, which is amazing, I watched the movies with the subtitles and it was amazing. I wish I could find more Russian movies but Russia doesn't have a big movie industry, and Russian subtitles are hard to find. Moreover, since few people in other countries can even read Cyrillic, there are even less movies available from Russia except through Russian torrent websites, when can be hard for non-Russian speakers to navigate.
Pictured is a scene from the french movie Amelie (2001). It's a popular movie and is available online, but there are many foreign movies you can't get anywhere but by torrent.
So there you have it – ten great reasons you can download without fear of retribution by the free downloading MAFIAA. In fact, it is encouraged to share these rare and hard-to-find files, because often there are few people sharing it, and if everyone stops sharing it, they may become lost forever.
Also, all the more reason to get them now before they are gone. I have found when I download something rare, I may leave it up for weeks or even months before someone finally gets around to sharing it and it finally downloads. It’s cool when it does.
What cool stuff have you downloaded recently?