Since the first copyright infringement case (Jammie Thomas-Rasset was fined a total of $1.9 million for 24 songs), there are more and more such cases appeared:a 12-year-old New York city girl was sued for music downloading; Joel Tenenbaum handed a $675,000 penalty for illegally downloading and distributing 31 songs; a 15-year-old boy faced up to 2 years in jail for downloading and sharing 24 Hollywood movies with Bit Torrent, etc. It's quite necessary for us to know what we do is legal and what is illegal.
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10 sites for free and legal torrents
Legaltorrents.com: This site features lots of music download and some good video content. All files there are centrally seeded, which offers you a happy downloading enjoyment.
Public Domain Torrents: This site features hundreds of Torrents from out-of-copyright films in numerous formats.
Legit Torrents: This site aggregates freely available Torrents, including video, games and Linux distributions.
Bittorrent: This site features its own download store, but still offers lots of freely downloadable content.
SXSW.com: This site features music and video downloads to promote the South by Southwest festival.
Revision3.com: This site is technically not a Torrent site, but the online video network utilizes BitTorrent like few others.
Torrentfreak: This site is known for its up-to-date coverage of the BitTorrent scene, and also own tracker and regularly features legal downloads.
Etree: This site is hosting live recordings of bootleg-friendly artists in the lossless FLAC audio format.
Zudeo: This site offers a mix of music videos, user-generated content, professionally produced movies and short films.
Linuxtracker.com: Advocates of the free operating system have been using BitTorrent for a long time to spread the latest releases of their preferred distribution.
More cases of copyright infringement
March 2011, Sweden: A 15-year-old boy faced up to two years in jail for downloading and sharing 24 Hollywood movies with BitTorrent.
December 2013, Sweden: A 28-year-old man had been fined 4.3 million Swedish krona - just over £400，000 - He was also given a suspended jail sentence and 160 hours of community service for uploading 517 other titles, due to upload one film to a torrent-sharing website.
July 2013, US: Joel Tenenbaum, a 25-year-old doctoral student in physics in Boston University, had to pay four record labels $675，000 in damages,for illegally downloading 30 songs and sharing them online.
September 2012, US: Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a native American mother, had to pay a fine of $220，000, for illegally downloading 30 songs and sharing them online.
Get to know some definitions before going ahead
Copyright: The exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same (from Google.com).
Copyright infringement: The use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works (from wikipedia.org). In short, it's a violation of the rights secured by a copyright.
Therefore, illegal download refers that download or share files without the copyright holder's permission.
5 international treaties protection copyrights
Berne: The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, usually known as the Berne Convention.
UCC Geneva: The Universal Copyright Convention (UCC).
UCC Paris: Universal Copyright Convention.
TRIPS: Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
WCT: WIPO Copyright Treaty.