In my last article I wrote about what should be the safest possible way to use torrents. Yet, with torrents, there is always a risk involved (even when used legally). The only way to minimize that risk is to not use them at all. Now you're safe, but what about all that stuff you want to download? Well, I must first state that all the information in this article is purely for educational purposes and I will not be held responsible in how this information is used.
Isn't This Illegal?
Yes, it is. However, there are legitimate reasons to do this. I will provide a few examples for different pieces of media:
You end up downloading some music on iTunes. Something happens to your Apple account that has you create a new one. All your music was on your old account which can no longer be accessed. Is it right for Apple to make you to buy each song or album again?
I might own a Blu-ray disc of a movie I love. It has become so damaged it no longer plays. I still own the movie and still want to watch it. Why should I pay again for another copy of the same movie?
The new Mario game is about to arrive and you're feeling nostalgic. Digging through your garage you find your old NES console and a copy of Super Mario Bros. After everything is hooked up you find that the console, or the game, or both, are not working. Is it fair that something - which is discontinued - no longer works, through no fault of your own, and the only way you could get a "new" one is to have someone fix it (which may cost more than what it's worth)?
One problem with purchasing the Windows 8 OS digital download was that if you lost the email that had your key, that was it, it was lost forever. What if you did downloaded it and a couple of months later wanted to make a fresh new install of Windows 8. You realize you lost your email with the product key and Microsoft is of no help. Should you be forced to buy Windows 8 again?
My answers to these questions are no, that's ridiculous. While the copyrighted material should not be on the net in the first place, that doesn't change the fact that it exists. But copyright infringement is about infringing on rights. What rights are you infringing on if you already own the material?
Yes, you should avoid torrents at all costs. That is, if you're ISP and/or country actually cares. There are plenty that really don't, trust me.
The reason you should not use torrents is because ISP's and cable companies can view and monitor what you are downloading since you are using a peer-to-peer network. Many people use VPN's for this very reason, and they can work well, if you ensure that your anonymity is safe. They also can cost you quite a bit, which was the main reason to use my method in my last article here.
Usenet is another option, but you do have to hand over credit card information to get access, so you could still be found out if that service hands over their information to a government agency or company.
The easiest to way get music is to use YouTube. There are numerous online sites that allow you to turn YouTube videos into MP3. There are some sites that will do the same conversion but output FLAC.
Albums are a bit different, and can be tedious if using the YouTube method. You can use "index of" tricks to search directories, and you may get lucky enough to find what you're looking for (if it's popular). There are plenty of sites that are just for downloading albums, not singles. And of course, there are plenty of host sites that allow downloads of albums. FilesTube.com used to be a good way to search, but they have since changed completely to legal content. There are other sites that will allow you to search these host sites though...
The YouTube methods for music also apply here. There are a lot of sites that will download YouTube videos for you, but there are better ways.
All over the internet hundreds of sites stream movie and TV show content for free. They will likely have a lot more variety than what YouTube offers, but they can also do one other thing that can greatly benefit you.
If you have a download manager you can download your videos at blistering speeds. This does depend on the hosting server limits and your Internet speeds, but it can be extremely helpful for those with slow speeds.
Games & Software Methods
These are a bit more difficult as your only options are hosting sites. Normally, if free, games or software will be divided into multiple chunks, and can take quite a long time to finish. What's worse, if there are something like 20 parts, and you get to part 15 realizing it has been taken down, you just wasted a bunch of time. To avoid this, open each part first and make sure they are available to download.
Furthermore, a download manager can help here too. Some hosting sites allow download managers for free users, and some hosting sites allow multiple downloads at once. This can greatly decrease the time used on downloading this type of content.
Older consoles and respective will usually have emulators scattered across the net that are free and quick to download.
Is It Safe?
These are by far your safest options. Unlike peer-to-peer networks, your ISP or cable provider can't just see what your downloading and if it's illegal or not. The most that seems to happen is if you use a hosting site for downloads, those hosting companies will either take the download down when they see or are told to by whatever company that owns the rights or represents the rights holder. Hosting companies are normally to big to constantly monitor and peruse through what is actually on their servers.
If you happen to be the uploader and are hosting illegal content, you can have your access restricted or completely revoked.
For Each Beginning, There Is An End
While I gave out ideas as to what can be done, I tried not to specify or detail too much. It's not exactly hard to figure out, but why poke the beast? Regardless, as I wrote earlier, there are legitimate times when downloading content should be legal. This doesn't mean you can't get in trouble nonetheless, but at least you would have a valid excuse if something were to happen.