Historically, Spain has been one of the safest countries to download torrents and that label is still mostly true today. Spain remains one of the most torrent-friendly countries in the EU.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the applicable laws and risks of torrenting in Spain, as well as methods you can use to protect your privacy when torrenting.
Is Torrenting Legal Spain?
Filesharing with BitTorrent is 100% legal in Spain, as it is in most countries. BitTorrent is simply a peer-to-peer filesharing technology. Unlike most other countries, however, it is also legal to download copyrighted content for personal use.
In most countries, the distribution (and often just downloading) of copyrighted content is classified as a civil (or criminal) offense. But not in Spain.
Spain did pass copyright reform legislation in 2013, but that only criminalized the operation of websites distributing copyrighted content. There are currently no penalties for Spanish citizens who download copyrighted content from pirate torrent sites, as long as they are not profiting from that content (e.g. reselling).
This distinction makes Spain one of the safest countries for torrenting, worldwide.
Bottom Line: Yes, torrenting is legal in Spain. It is even legal to download pirated content for personal (non-commercial) use.
How is Torrenting Tracked in Spain?
Because of Spain’s lax anti-piracy laws, there is little direct enforcement of personal torrent activity by Spain’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
However, torrent activity is still monitored by 3rd-party corporations and monitoring agencies and if you’ve participated in a public pirate torrent swarm, there’s a good chance your IP address is included in one of these databases.
Blocked Torrent Sites
Several popular torrent sites are widely blocked in Spain, including The Pirate Bay (perhaps the most notorious torrent tracker of all time). This blockade is optional, but enforced by most of Spain’s large ISPs.
Pirate torrent swarms are heavily monitored by automated scraper software that extracts the IP addresses of seeders sharing allegedly infringing files.
In many countries (especially the USA and Australia) this databases are sold to rightsholders or Torrent Trolls, who typically use this data to extract monetary settlements from alleged infringers. See Risks (below).
Because most BitTorrent usage is legal in Spain, internet providers rarely monitor, block, or throttle p2p traffic (other than the website blockades mentioned above).
Risks of Torrenting in Spain
The legal and financial risks of torrenting in Spain an minimal, because nearly all personal torrent activity is explicitly legal, even for copy-protected works.
There are stiff penalties (up to six years) for Spanish citizens who operate pirate sites or pirate torrent trackers. But these penalties do not apply to the actual file sharers downloading or seeding pirated content.
However, if you attempt to profit from illegal downloads (selling movies as a digital download for example) you can be held criminally and financially liable.
Risks: minimal (for personal use)
Thankfully torrent lawsuits are virtually non-existent in Spain (because most usage is protected under law). That said, unscrupulous torrent trolls could still attempt to send settlement demands to torrent downloaders if they can determine their identity.
This scheme requires co-operation from ISPs, however, which is very unlikely in Spain.
Pirated content caries plenty of non-legal risks, because content is not vetted or verified. Hackers frequently use torrents to distribute malware, trojans, cryptolockers and stalkerware.
How to Download Torrents Safely in Spain
If you live in Spain, plan to torrent from a Spanish IP address using a VPN, here are some common-sense precautions to protect your privacy while downloading.
How to make your torrents safer:
1. Use a VPN
A zero-log VPN is the ultimate torrent privacy too. These days, the vast majority of frequent torrenters are using a VPN. If you aren’t, you should be.
Using a VPN providers 3 significant privacy benefits for BitTorrent:
Benefits of a VPN:
- Hide your real IP address – by design, all bittorrent activity is public. Peers and monitoring agencies can view the public IP address of all peers in a torrent swarm. By using a VPN, you can hide your real IP address and use a disposable IP from your VPN service.
- Encrypt all data transfer – Modern VPNs use strong, unbreakable encryption just like your bank and other high-security websites. This prevents 3rd-parties (like your Internet Provider) from seeing what files you download online.
- Access torrent-friendly jurisdictions & IP addresses – Use a VPN to geo-locate your virtual internet connection anywhere in the world. Easily choose a safer torrent jurisdiction.
2. Use a Kill-switch
When using a VPN, you should always enable the included kill-switch feature, which will automatically disconnect your internet if the VPN fails for any reason.
This prevents your real IP address or torrent history from leaking when the VPN drops.
Every VPN we recommend on this website includes a kill-switch feature.
Learn more: How to use a kill-switch for your VPN.
3. Use Private Trackers
Public torrent trackers are accessible to anyone and thus face much more legal scrutiny.
Invite-only private trackers tend to be much safer, though they do include uploading and seeding requirements you won’t face on public torrent sites.
It can be hard to get your first private tracker invite, but it’s often worth the effort.
4. Use an Anti-virus
Even though most torrent files are harmless, if you download enough torrents you’ll eventually run into malware. In fact, BitTorrent is a favorite channel for hackers to distribute malware, adware, stalkerware and all manner of malicious software.
Reading the comments on a torrent site can help rule out the most flagrant examples, but you’ll still want a high-quality realtime antivirus as a last line of defense, especially if you download executable software files.
Executables are especially dangerous because software often requires admin rights to install.
Frequently Asked Questions
While most filesharing activity is legal in Spain, users still face significant risks including: Throttling, lawsuits, fines and malware.