I can't say I've noticed much of a difference in pirating in general. I do know that groups like the RIAA and MPAA actively monitor torrents looking for users uploading copyrighted stuff. If they find an IP address that has uploaded an entire copy of something, they'll contact the ISP and say "Someone with this IP on this date/time uploaded our copyrighted material." Then the ISP will go after you. ISPs don't want to be the internet police, and they very rarely take action themselves unless the copyright owner contacts them with the information. So it likely wasn't your ISP who was the bad guy, you probably just picked a torrent that some organization was monitoring.
You can pick up on this kind of thing by looking at the number of seeders/leechers, and checking the comments. Tracked torrents normally have thousands of additional seeders than normal, so watch for that.
The way Newsgroups work, in a nutshell, is you pay to be part of a Newsgroup. Newsgroups are nothing but conversation forums at their most basic. But the handy thing is that they can serve any type of files as well. And all Newsgroup data is stored on massive server farms, that have infinite bandwidth and storage space. Transfers are only restricted by your own ISP speeds. You use what's called a "Reader" app, to display and search Newsgroups for what you're looking for. Be it a conversation thread about boobs, or a copy of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. And unlike torrents, you're not actually uploading the material unless you want to, which is actually what gets you in trouble. And Newsgroups make it much easier to disguise what you're actually downloading. Watchdog organizations can't publicly monitor what you're downloading like they can with torrents.
Additionally, you can use other utilities like Couchpotato
, to do auto downloading and organization of TV series and movies. You would configure Sickbeard with your Newsgroup info, and tell it to download new episodes of Homeland when they become available on the Newsgroup server, along with how you want to get it. Then when a new episode is uploaded to the server, your Sickbeard install will see it, and download the quality you selected, and rename it in the format you picked, and save it to your local drive. You end up with perfectly organized folder structures of your episodes that automatically download when available. And it's all infinitely more secure than torrents.
Hope that makes sense. You can get a trial for lots of different Newsgroups for pretty cheap. I'd suggest checking it out and seeing if it works for you.