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People tend to equate BitTorrent with piracy, and we’re not going to pretend that there isn’t a lot of loot out there on torrent sites. However, there’s also plenty of opportunity to download lots of legal goodies, from free documentaries to Creative Commons-licensed music to indie feature films hoping for some P2P buzz.
It’s been three years since we first published a post titled Ten Sites For Free And Legal Torrents. Unfortunately, a few of the sites mentioned in our original post have since folded, but others have come up to replace them, which is why we decided to update our list of legal torrent goodness with new links and additional information.
Mininova used to be one of the biggest torrent directories on the Internet until it was forced to shut down all unauthorized content due to a copyright infringement lawsuit late last year. However, Mininova is still serving access to close to 10,000 legitimate torrents, including HD space mission footage from NASA, documentaries from public broadcasters and user-generated animation shorts. Mininova still clocks about 300,000 downloads per day.
Legaltorrents.com, which will soon rebrand as Clearbits.net, offers access to around a thousand torrents, ranging from indie movies to podcasts to documentaries, as well as a ton of music. Legaltorrents told us that they’re currently facilitating the download of 10-20 Terabytes of content per month. All files are centrally seeded, so your torrent client won’t idle out on you.
Limecast is a podcast directory operated by the makers of Limewire. Users can opt to stream or download clips right within their browser, or access torrent files for episodes of popular podcasts like GeekBrief.TV, Diggnation or the Ricky Gervais Podcast. Not all the feeds seem to be up to date, but the site is still pretty neat.
The Miro Guide is a content repository for the open source video player Miro, which comes with a built-in BitTorrent client. Some of the content included in the Miro Guide, like TorrentFreak TV, is distributed via BitTorrent, but you’ll still need Miro to download the files.
Public Domain Torrents is a slightly older site with the occasional database error, but that only seems to be fitting for the subject matter. The site features hundreds of torrents for movies with expired copyright. In other words: Pretty old stuff. Or classics, depending on your point of view.
YouTorrent is a search engine that aims to only index authorized content available through various BitTorrent sites, and it claims to currently index more than 80,000 torrents.
Jamendo is a music site offering access to more than 30,000 Creative Commons-licensed albums. All music is available for free via direct download and BitTorrent.
Gameupdates.org features a few thousand torrents specifically tailored towards the gaming community, but we’re not just talking patches and demo relases: The site also offers access to a few hundred trailers, previews and in some cases even full-featured films promoting games like Grand Theft Auto IV, Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
LinuxTracker finally does what it says: It tracks Linux distributions, making it possible to download all major flavors of Linux as well as quite a few lesser-known distributions.
Image courtesy of Flickr user nrkbeta.
Related GigaOM Pro Research: Are Torrents a Tool for Predicting the Future? (subscription required)