Is it legal to use DigitalOcean to distribute Linux?

Posted March 29, 2015 10.3k views

I was planning to distribute Linux images (assume it is Ubuntu for now). The method of distribution is to be decided but it might be both BitTorrent and HTTP downloads.

I have got a few questions and I am asking them here because I usually get flamed at other places for asking them with responses like “This is not the place to ask these things”. Looking at this community, most people do not flame others. If I should not ask these here, then please tell me where to go and I would go and ask the question there.

  1. I think BitTorrent is illegal but so many people use it. But at some places it is said that the protocol is legal but it depends on which file we are downloading. Now, Ubuntu’s license says that it is free to distribute. Also provides Torrent files themselves. So is it Legal to distribute Ubuntu images? (I have emailed Ubuntu asking these things but no one replied)
  2. If distributing Ubuntu is legal, then is it allowed to run a torrent software on DigitalOcean? (Will I be banned and my service cancelled if I do this?) Also, I guess in this case providing HTTP downloads will also be legal, right?
  3. What are the network constraints of DigitalOcean? Is there a daily network limits? If yes, then how do I increase them? I do not see any bandwidth log in my panel.
  4. If all the above can be achieved, then are there any extra steps to perform so that no one can add their own torrent on my server? After much searching I found that there is a server called Deluge which can be run in daemon mode and it does not even require any UI so no one will be able to interact with it and no one will be able to add their own torrent because there is no UI!

Hoping to not get flamed :(

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8 answers

Hey! You can certainly use your droplets to distribute a Linux distribution. I do so myself =)

We do not restrict the use of Bittorrent and this will not present any problems as long as it is not being used for copyright infringement.

We do ask that if you expect to utilize a large amount of bandwidth that you restrict throughput on each droplet to lower than 300Mbps.

Currently each droplet does have a bandwidth limit but until statistics on bandiwdth use are provided in the control panel we are not charging for bandiwdth used in excess of your plan limits.

I take it back, it looks like DigitalOcean asks to not be used as a Seeder for torrents.

However, it is possible you can seed torrents elsewhere and use your site as a private torrent-tracker, which is different than a torrent-seeder.
As long as your torrents are all legal, that would be fine.

Pirate Bay is the most famous Torrent Tracker. They do not seed any of the torrents.

If you look at the TOS:

scroll down to part 3. Rules of Conduct, part 3.7

it discusses being grandfathered in to free bandwidth. It is my understanding that currently this is all accounts, but I might be wrong about that…

If it is not, then you will have bandwidth limits.

Bittorrent is not illegal anywhere as far as I know.

Sharing copyrighted content is illegal in certain places. What happens is that media companies hire people that watch torrent traffic. If they see your IP sharing a copyrighted media (Movies, songs,etc) they send a notice to the company your IP is located at. That company will then act according to their own rules. DigitalOcean will either ban you or (maybe) send you a warning.

Linux is not illegal to share, so you should be fine offering Linux. Using bittorrent will be easier on the bandwidth than direct http downloads.

I am not a DigitalOcean employee, so you should not take my word for it, but I think this is the case.

Thanks @sierracircle. Can you tell me where they have mentioned that the service may not be used for seeding?

Ok, I am not sure what a grandfathered account is because they have not explained that. Also, I am not planning to overrun the provided bandwidth. For example - if I get myself the plan for $10 and DO says that I am getting 2TB worth of bandwidth then I am not going to go beyond that (and am ready to pay for the entire month).

Also, they say it as: run Torrents for download or Seed Servers, TOR, or services that include content of an adult or pornographic nature. It sounds a bit ambiguous because they later say or otherwise circumvent the intended fair usage of free bandwidth by distributing it freely to others I am not planning to go beyond what is allocated.

If I am being within the limits of law (sharing Ubuntu is fine that way since I am not modifying anything in the distro anyway) and am not over-using the allotted resources, I believe it is okay. But of course, need someone from DO itself to comment on the issue.

sounds like you should send an email to customer support to get some clarification.

If I had to guess, I would say that if you remained with a certain amount of bandwidth each month, and were not sharing copyrighted or adult content, then you could probably get away with seeding torrents from your droplet.

But I am not with DigitalOcean, so I am just speculating.

@ryanpq Thanks for replying! That is some good news. I would keep it within the bandwidth limits.