Time and time again I run into people who think "torrent" translates to "illegal". Is it?

Let’s find out what this all means by examining the definitions.

A torrent is a small file usually ending with the file extension .torrent. You use the .torrent file with a BitTorrent client. BitTorrent itself is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol. The .torrent file is used to get a larger file you want from the peer-to-peer network using the BitTorrent client that "understands" the BitTorrent protocol.

The Big Question however is: Are torrents illegal?

No. And they never have been.

Using BitTorrent is the most efficient way of getting large files on the internet without having them hosted in any centralized location.

The best example of this is Linux distributions. For example, Ubuntu themselves (as do all other Linux distros) offer a way to get their OS via BitTorrent. It’s fast; it works; it’s probably going to be faster than downloading via a direct HTTP. And obviously, downloading Ubuntu or any other Linux distro via a torrent isn’t illegal.

People assume torrents are illegal because many files are traded illegally via that particular peer-to-peer network. But does this mean all torrents are illegal?

Not by a long shot.

BitTorrent is a protocol and nothing more.

It is wrong to assume "torrent" = "illegal" because it just isn’t true.