UPDATE! Where You Can Find Free, Legal Torrent Sources

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Find free, legal torrent sources.

Photo by robertjosiah (Flickr)

UPDATE (12/6/2013)

Since October we’ve discovered a bundle of new sites that provide access to free, legal torrents and content. In this post update we’re adding the following 10 online sources to our existing pool of portals:

  • Film Chest
  • Horrortheque
  • Kobo
  • Librivox
  • Media History Digital Library
  • New York Times Public Domain Images
  • Open Flix
  • Prelinger Archives
  • Project Gutenberg

You can find the above sites in alphabetical order by searching the original post below.

As always, please let us know if you’ve discovered a free and legal torrent site (that does not include content that infringes upon copyright) that you would like us to include.

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Since the dawn of time, people have been on a never-ending quest to find and consume information. To help make your search easier (and legal) we’ve scoured the web for online sources that provide access to what we believe are free and legal torrents. Make sure to bookmark this page as we will update it regularly.

Without further adieu — here’s a working, alphabetized list of torrent sites we believe do not include content that infringes on copyright.

Archive.org contains one of the largest collections of torrents, boasting more than 1.4 million archive items as of August 2012. Most of the collection is comprised of public domain materials with new content being added on a regular basis.

BioTorrents.net is hosted through the UC Davis Genome Center. In a nutshell, users can download torrent files that are science-related, open-access datasets and software based. Illegal material is not permitted. This policy is enforced by regular monitoring and reporting of any suspicious torrents.

BitLove.org joins podcast fans with podcast creators by converting standard podcast feeds into torrent feeds.

ClearBits.net distributes high-quality, open-licensed (Creative Commons) torrents. With permission from rights holders they host digital media, datasets and artwork torrents. In addition to free torrent file access, they offer affordable tiered torrent membership plans that allow users to participate in publishing, writing, editing and reviewing of open content distribution sources. Prior to 2010, this site was known as LegalTorrents.

eTree.org is an online community that is best known for pioneering the standards of distributing lossless audio. For more than 15 years, they have distributed music with permission from the artist that allows for free taping and non-commercial trading of their created content.

Film Chest is similar to other sites in that it is focused on preserving and digitizing public domain movies and historical film collections for future generations to enjoy and view. FCMG is a good resource to research public domain films and also to purchase restored versions of them.

FrostClick.com is a blog/directory of music, video, software, games and more that are made available under Creative Commons license. They work directly with artists to provide content that artists are willing to promote and share openly.

GameUpdates.org is a community-based site focused on providing legal content for gamers and gaming in general. The site is very clear about what constitutes a legal torrent and what is permitted for uploading/downloading and general posting.

Horrortheque is site that specializes only in public domain horror movies. Plenty of b-movies, grindhouse and cult classics are spotlighted.

ibiblio.org hosts a diverse range of materials through partnerships with the Center for the Public Domain, IBM and SourceForge. Summarized as a digital library and archive project, ibiblio.org is member of Open Library and Open Content Alliance.

Jamendo.com is a self-touted site that bills itself as ‘the world’s largest digital service for free music’. More than 1.4 million members strong, Jamendo’s digital catalog is comprised for 362,000 tracks by 30,000 artists spanning 120 countries. Content is made possible via Creative Commons License in partnership with the artists themselves.

Kobo has more than one million free ebooks spanning classics, mysteries, romance and more. In addition to it’s large collection of free ebooks there are also many others available for purchase.

LegitTorrents.info aggregates torrents including video, games and Linux distributions. It has a registered user base of 25,673 members sharing approximately 3,381 legal torrents.

Librivox features free public domain audiobooks that are read by network of volunteer readers (6,071 according to the site). Librivox contains 7,230 cataloged works and counting.

LinuxTracker.org in an online portal that features torrents for Linux users, as well as video releases like the open source DVR system LinHES (Linux Home Entertainment System) that centers on the GNU GPL based project, MythTV.

Media History Digital Library is dedicated to digitizing classic media periodicals from the public domain. To date, this project has scanned more than 800,000 pages. Journals, dailies and other periodicals are available. Search their scanned magazines through Lantern.

MercuryTheatre.info is a site that celebrates radio drama series from the 1930’s, which were featured on the Mercury Theater On The Air program founded by Orson Welles and John Houseman. At this time there are just over 70 torrents available, including the now infamous War of the Worlds broadcast in 1938 that convinced Americans that an actual alien invasion was occurring.

MiroGuide.com is the open source companion to Miro, the open source music and video player. MiroGuide’s channels are organized by genres for easy content discovery. Users can subscribe to podcasts, RSS feeds and more, plus custom build viewing lists. Miro functions more as an aggregator in this way, but it also enables users to sift through and find free, legal torrents too.

New York Times Public Domain Images is a very small selection of 120 images that were published prior to January 1, 1923. The images featured are from the NYT online archives.

Open Flix is an online directory of movies thought to be in the public domain. Organized by category, visitors can search and find a number of movies with expired copyright and available to the public for free. Although Open Flix charges money to purchase a DVD of the movie, this site is a good resource to research what’s available.

Prelinger Archives started by Rick Prelinger in 1983, it became a large collection of 60,000 advertising, educational, industrial and amateur films. The Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division acquired it in 2002 and now holds approximately 5,000 digitized and videotape titles transferred from film.

Project Gutenberg offers move than 42,000 free ebooks available in several different formats (ereader, download or online). While all books are free in the US because of expired copyright, other countries will need to confirm whether copyright is still active.

PublicDomainTorrents.info is easy to navigate and showcases a deluge of classics and ‘B movies’. Different file formats make torrenting a breeze.

Revision3.com is a leading independent free online video service that offers hit TV shows on a wide range of topics. Acquired by the Discovery Channel in 2012, all shows are produced independently.

Suprnova.org has reinvented itself as a site for free and legal torrents. Prior to 2007, when the torrent search engine was donated to a competing torrent host, Suprnova faced legal threats. Selection is narrow, lean and not consistently updated.

SXSWTorrent.com is not officially associated or connected to SXSW. What it offers is an alternative method to sample music appearing at upcoming SXSW festivals for any given year in the form of torrent files. It includes nine years, 9,000 songs and 45GB worth of music torrents. All music torrents are tracks that could be previewed on the official SXSW website during each annual festival. Because complaints from artists requesting removal couldn’t be located this site and its content is believed to be ok to share.

Vodo.net distributes movie torrents for independent films. By partnering with artists/film makers and a coalition of P2P sites, new creative works are promoted to millions of torrent users.

What are some of your preferred free, legal torrent sites that you use? Let us know and we might add them to the list. Don’t forget to check back often for updates and new additions.

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#dic – What does #dic mean? Don’t’ Infringe Copyright.
Legal Torrent Files – What Is Vuze Doing & How Can You Help

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Sarah Hartshorn is a marketing, public relations and social media professional with Vuze. She blogs about content, torrents, social media and a number of other tech topics. Sarah has been involved with traditional and digital marketing since 1998.