Using BitTorrent? Watch out - maybe...

Okay, hands up all those people who download stuff on the Net using peer-to-peer technology. Yes, I know, it's not very legal, but a lot of people are doing it.

I admit, I use the P2P technology to download episodes of US TV series such as Stargate and the rather good Odyssey 5 series starring Peter Weller that the SciFi Channel has kindly buried in a graveyard slot.

So I started downloading the complete first series of Odyssey 5 using BitTorrent last week. It's seven gigabytes big. Imagine my horror when, two gigs into the download, I started getting probes from the Business Software Alliance's Australian division.

My copy of Protowall says that the BSA's Aussie operation sent a blast of P2P packets to my humble PC for about an hour.

The BSA, you may not be aware, has been instrumental in a number of high profile prosecutions against US P2P file sharers. There have only been a couple of prosecutions in the UK, but if the BSA is doing the dirty on the P2P-ers, then things could get nasty.

I'm not stupid. I've stopped BitTorrenting as a precaution. Okay, the files are only TV programs from the US, but it's still technically illegal.

I now use Easynews, a Usenet scooper-upper that costs a modest $10 a month for up to 20 gigs of files. That gets me the US TV series I want at much higher speeds. Still not legal, but much less chance of getting caught red-handed, especially since the downloads can be made in a flash....