Illegal downloading can encompass various factors, though it is most commonly associated with the illegal downloading of music and audio media. Furthermore, illegal downloads can be done in various ways.
Illegal downloading most commonly occurs through the use of peer-to-peer networks and torrents. There are various services and programs that exist to provide for this kind of file sharing over the internet, though they are not in their nature illegal.
These types of services or programs are legally allowed to function because they are not necessarily meant for the illegal download of files, since they can also be used to download legal material. Illegal downloading can, therefore, be considered the downloading of files without the proper permission of the owner or related authority and downloading material without purchasing it.
Illegal downloads, in current times, will usually consist of music and movies, though it can also extend to computer programs and other types of electronic consumer goods, such as electronic books. Many services exist in which users can download such material for a cost, where one pays for each individual or as part of a subscription.
However, there are means in which such material can be downloaded and avoid having to purchase them. This would constitute illegal downloading, in which the user and the entity providing such material for download are both liable for the crime. The fact is that illegal downloading has an impact on the financial income of those involved in producing such media and is used without proper permission. Thus, illegal downloading is often considered to be a form of infringement.