The Pros and Cons of Pirating Movies Through Torrenting

By on April 26, 2013

confession-bear-torrentingWhile I certainly don’t condone theft of any kind (except those conducted by the Hamburglar), movie piracy remains a widespread activity throughout the internet. Many cyber thieves use various BitTorrent clients and websites to procure their plundered digital booty, and despite its less than high moral standing, there are several admittedly enticing benefits to this practice. Likewise, there are some very notable drawbacks.

Are you better off obeying the law, or should you hoist up your Jolly Roger with pride? Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons that will help you draw your own conclusions.


  • It’s Free – This one’s pretty obvious.  Since you’re stealing, you don’t actually have to pay for anything! Which means, if the movie sucks, you aren’t stuck with the nagging knowledge that you just self-financed your own bitter disappointment.
  • The Thrill – Traveling to your local cineplex can be fun, but when was the last time a trip to the movies came with the risk of a lawsuit? What about actual jail time? With its potential legal penalties, BitTorrent downloading can make even watching The Notebook dangerous and edgy.
  • The Selection of Rare Titles – Your local Best Buy might have plenty of copies of the 2005 big budget Fantastic Four film — but does it have the infamous, unreleased low budget 1994 version produced by Roger Corman? Didn’t think so.
  • Early Leaks and Workprint Releases – Do you want to watch upcoming blockbusters months in advance? Do you want to watch upcoming blockbusters months in advance and with unintentionally hilarious incomplete special effects? Of course you do.
  • You Get to Be a Pirate but Without All the Eyeliner – Stealing movies through BitTorrent means you get to officially call yourself a pirate. And you don’t even need the eye patch, pegleg, makeup, funny hat, or puffy shirt!


  • The Guilt – By pirating a movie you’re essentially stealing straight from the hardworking filmmakers who poured their heart, sweat, and tears into it. Well, except if you’re stealing a Michael Bay movie. The only things he seems to pour into his films are lighter fluid and Axe body spray.
  • The Consequences – While millions might get away with torrenting every day, a few unlucky individuals have faced serious legal repercussions. Do you really want to be the guy who gets sued for downloading Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star?
  • Shaky Camera Bootlegs – Getting to see a film for free might make it seem like you’re sticking it to greedy movie producers and hiked-up ticket prices, but if you still have to stare at the back of some guy’s head, what battle have you really won?
  • Mislabeled Files – There’s nothing worse than expecting to download Danny Boyle’s acclaimed horror flick 28 Days Later, only to load up the file and discover that it’s actually the Sandra Bullock romantic dramedy 28 Days. Though, I imagine the other way around is probably pretty jarring too…
  • You Get to Be a Pirate but Without All the Eyeliner – On second thought, what’s the point of getting to call yourself a pirate if you don’t get to wear the eye patch, pegleg, makeup, funny hat, and puffy shirt too?! Those are like the main selling points of piracy!


About Steven Cohen

In addition to writing for The CheckOut, I'm a Blu-ray reviewer for High-Def Digest, a short filmmaker, and a proud purveyor of rambling words. My experimental short film, Broken Records, premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival and is now viewable online.


  1. keirstinb

    August 30, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Seth, I wish I could see what you were trying to say, but I just can’t. Like Long John Silver says, you would have to be really gullible and inexperienced to pick up a virus or spyware. And even if you somehow managed to, who doesn’t scan their computer every now and then?

    My thoughts are VERY much along the lines of Long John’s (cool name btw)

    The biggest and (in my opinion) most valid argument for internet piracy being stealing is that you aren’t stealing the movie. You are stealing their right to SELL you the movie.

    Now if I want a movie, and I have the money I will absolutely buy it. I torrent only when 1) I don’t have the money for it or 2) I kinda want to see it but not enough to ever pay for it. From this, I would conclude that while SOMETIMES internet piracy is stealing, if you buy what you can and torrent what you can’t then you aren’t hurting anyone. In fact you are helping them a small amount by recommending it to your friends (which you couldn’t have otherwise done since you wouldn’t have bought it)

    That’s my two cents.

  2. Long John Silver

    April 29, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Seth, how is it morally wrong? Copying something you never would have payed for does not deprive anyone of anything. In fact, studies have shown that music file pirates are MORE likely to purchase music than non-pirates.

    It’s not at all easy to pick up viruses, spyware, or trojans from downloading media file formats. Avoid RAR & ZIP, and obviously more risky formats like EXE, VBS, etc. In other words if you expect a movie you expect a video format.

    By all means use all your disposable income to support the artists of your choice, but that extra movie you copied may actually PROMOTE profit for the content holder by creating more popularity, more free buzz about it online and on TV, increasing sales.

    Oh and one last thing. 2012 was a record breaking year for hollywood profits, despite following a recession and rising prices on other commodities. On the other hand I’m not going to try to defend pirating indies who deserve all the help they can get, and yet piracy of their work may increase their popularity making people more likely to spend money on their next work.

  3. Seth

    April 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    You forgot to add that it is not only illegal, but is also morally wrong, (I am beginning to wonder if people still have morals at all) he also forgot that this is a great way to pick up viruses, spyware, and Trojans.
    My advise

    DO NOT PIRATE MOVIES! In fact, you should not pirate books, video games, or music either!

    • blah

      November 10, 2015 at 1:59 am

      What a narrow-minded and not well-researched opinion. While piracy of small indie movies can be harmful in certain circumstances, the vast majority of piracy that focuses on blockbuster and well-established films only helps the film industry by providing additional hype. Look at game of thrones, which benefited enormously from people pirating their episodes. Revenue increased dramatically after an increase in pirating. You’re living in an obsolete past which doesn’t consider the actual realities of the present. Things change and apparently you can’t be bothered to do your homework on that.

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