VPN is undoubtedly used by many to hide illegal BitTorrent downloading – something it is very good at as the VPN tunnel shields your shady activities from your ISP, and the VPN server acts as a proxy, masking your true IP address from any observers on the internet.
P2P, however, is not just all about copyright piracy – it is a very efficient means of transferring any kind of file over the internet, and a number of websites exist that offer great copyright-free or open source content that can be downloaded using your favorite BitTorrent client.
This fantastic website is dedicated to hosting and curating old movies and TV shows whose copyright has expired and are now in the public domain. A treasure trove for cine-buffs, it features an extensive catalog of titles, including classics such as the now hilarious Reefer Madness, George A. Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead, the original Zorro and Flash Gordon episodes, and much much more! The website design is a little basic, but films are listed by category, which makes browsing for interesting titles a pleasure.
All movies can be downloaded via BitTorrent, or watched using the Shockwave player.
This professionally presented website provides torrent links to the latest versions of pretty much every Linux distro available. It also hosts a forum for users to discuss the torrents, and includes a good description of each download.
South by Southwest (SXSW) is a set of film, interactive, and music festivals that take place every year in Austin, Texas. The music festival is the largest of its kind in the world, and features thousands of performers and bands playing in more than 100 venues. Starting in 2005 the (unofficial) SXSW Torrents website has posted a compilation showcasing the talent playing at the festival, and now boasts 10,000 songs and a 50GB archive. Starting this year the website has switched to pointing at artists’ Soundcloud pages, but almost 10 years’ worth of musical goodness is available to download via BitTorrent.
Another great repository of old movies (1913 to 1968), this website also hosts a number of fascinating WW2 documentaries, including ‘Nazi Concentration Camps’ (produced and presented as evidence at the Nuremberg war crimes trial), Battle of Midway (1942 as it happened), and many more. Movies can be downloaded via P2P, or can be streamed on the website, and around 500 gems (and the not so gems) of movie history are available for your viewing pleasure.
This website hosts legal patches and updates to pretty much every PC, Linux and Mac game released in the last 10 years or so. Each game is given a description, system requirements, and screenshots, making the website a great general resource for gamers.
Billed as ‘filesharing for musicians’, this website allows artists to upload their work under the Creative Commons licence, and distribute it for free. Hundreds of bands and musicians have posted their tracks, which are tagged by genre to help finding music you like easier. Many come with previews, and most link back to the artists’ website, MySpace page, etc., so you can explore bands you like further, purchase their CDs, and suchlike.
This website hosts thousands of torrents of live recordings from concerts by trade friendly performers, including the likes Grateful Dead, Phish, and Pearl Jam. Recordings are largely made by fans, so quality can vary a little, but there is a wealth of great stuff available, most of it as high quality .flac files.
The Internet Archive is a non-profit website, ‘founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.’ It hosts a huge number of legal torrents, boasting over 3 and a half million torrent books, 745,000 movie, and almost two million music and audio tracks. In addition to downloading via BitTorrent, most items can be previewed over the web, and many have also been reviewed by Internet Archive members.
This well presented website offers a wide selection of ‘cracked, skewed and off-kilter games, films, comics, books and music’ made by independent artist, musicians and designers. Quality can be a little uneven, but there is some cool and innovative stuff on Vodo, and reading user’s forum comments is a good way to judge if something is worth downloading (video content can also be watched online using Vodo’s custom player software). There are also lists of most downloaded, most commented, and most shared, to help get you started. Most of the content on Vodo is free, but you are encouraged to ‘pay what you want’, with 70 percent of the payment going to the artist.
‘The finest radio drama of the 1930’s was The Mercury Theatre on the Air, a show featuring the acclaimed New York drama company founded by Orson Welles and John Houseman. In its brief run, it featured an impressive array of talents, including Agnes Moorehead, Bernard Herrmann, and George Coulouris. The show is famous for its notorious War of the Worlds broadcast, but the other shows in the series are relatively unknown. This site has many of the surviving shows, and will eventually have all of them.’
There are some fantastic productions here, which you can listen to online, or you can download the whole archive via BitTorrent.