In the United States, many organizations don’t take too kindly to your downloading of copyrighted materials without paying the copyright holders some cash. Hence organizations like the RIAA and MPAA have taken many illegal downloaders to court to sue them for infringing copyright. One of the ways that these organizations establish a case against you is to join the ‘torrent’ and see if you are actively downloading and sharing the material.
Once they successfully establish a connection to you and start downloading data, its pretty much an open and shut case when it goes to court in terms of evidence needed. They simply need to track your IP address, send a subpoena to the company providing you your Internet access to cough up your personal information. To combat this problem, a program called PeerGuardian2 (PG2) came along and promises to alleviate some of your headaches.
PG2 works by keeping a list of ‘blacklisted’ IP addresses that are known to belong to these organizations. If your computer attempts to make a connection to these blacklisted IPs, it will prevent the computer from actually completing the connection and thus save you a potentially hefty fine.
PG2 hasn’t been updated in awhile, so PeerBlock came along. It is based on the same source code of PG2, but with a few bugfixes to correct existing problems in PG2. The software is very easy to download and set up so give it a shot if you are looking to try and reduce your radar fingerprint on the copyright radar.
Another similar program is called Protowall. It works using the same concept as PeerBlock/PG2 but has an even more comprehensive lists that is maintained around the clock by armies of dedicated users. Their block lists includes AntiP2P organizations, Spyware, AD Trackers, Spam, and so on. These will ensure that your computer will never be allowed to establish a connection to blocked IP addresses to communicate with them.
Finally, a more complicated method involves running your BitTorrent trackers through the Tor network, although for most users this is quite a challenging task, with in-depth guides written about it such as the one available here. Anyway, most of the world has moved on to using file upload websites such as Rapidshare, Megaupload and so on. This next generation file-sharing service seems to be providing a viable solution to the problem of ‘throttled’ P2P traffic by internet providers and the fear of being caught using P2P software. Sites like Rapidshare are no different than an ordinary website and downloads are done through HTTP, so it is indistinguishable from legitimate surfing traffic. It remains to be seen whether P2P is able to offer this kind of protection soon before file sharing sites such as Rapidshare figure out a way to handle the problem of removing illegal content on their servers.