Q: Am I safe from Virus'?
A: BitTorrent is a much safer service than other peer-to-peer networks because of how it functions. While other peer-to-peer services allow a certain degree of access to a shared folder or someone’s hard drive, BitTorrent users cannot share anything outside of the desired file type that is in an open BitTorrent window.
Due to the fact that you are only downloading segments of the file as opposed to the full thing, it also makes it incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to transmit viruses through the BitTorrent system. There are a number of people who are opposed to peer-to-peer technologies because of possible security concerns, however, virtually none of these concerns are found in the BitTorrent service.
Q: Is using Bit-torrent software Illegal?
A: No, you can infact make it illegal by downloading pirated software/movies/music. Many software developers prefer Bit-Torrent because seeders can share it's bandwidth to lessen the load on their servers. Thus increasing download speeds for everyone.
Q: How do I protect myself from the MPAA/RIAA?
A: This is a very interested question, for one the best way is NOT TO DOWNLOAD ILLEGAL FILES. But of course there are some ways of protecting yourself. The main thing I recommend is the installation/use of Peer Guardian, this application is only available for Windows' Platform ATM. If you're a *NIX user I recommend checking out MoBlock.
Link to PeerGuardian
Link to MoBlock
Please note that MoBlock actually ties in/initiates new IPTABLES rules, so make sure you have access to your terminal (especially if you want to put this on your Linux router the new rules could flush your existing NAT rules).
There are ways to keep yourself safe, support the cause and never violate your own morals, * I DO NOT CONDONE ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES*