For people that are always looking for leisure options, the Internet provides many. Millions of people are turning over their personal computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones to enjoy the thousands of alternatives to kill time and have fun at the same time.
One of the most popular forms of entertainment, especially in the last few years, is torrenting. Downloading audio and video files, like movies, documentaries, books, songs, TV series and other shows or productions is now one of the most common practices in the world.
Canada is no exception to the rule. In fact, Canada is one of the countries with the fastest internet speeds, making it perfect for streaming online content and uploading and downloading all kinds of files in torrent format.
However, some legal issues may apply in the country that makes torrenting somewhat risky. Is torrenting legal in Canada? Can you go to jail if you get caught by the government? This comprehensive guide will cover all of those issues.
First of all, we need to cover what precisely a Torrent is. It is a protocol that allows users share all kinds of file and data. It is a fast and safe way to acquire multimedia content such as movies, TV series, all sorts of videos, and even music.
You can share photos with your friends and family, and watch movies with your significant other if you download torrent files. It is very straightforward. Also, you can get access to video games to play online with your peers.
This mode of entertainment is famous in almost every corner of the world: BitTorrent alone has nearly 30 million of active users today. However, you should know that torrenting, which is the act of downloading and uploading torrent files, can get you in trouble: you need to be wary of not obtaining copyrighted content without permission, especially in Canada, where the laws are very tight in the matter.
To be exact, BitTorrent is the file transfer protocol to break large pieces of the shared file into little pieces for the system to read it, and Torrent is the file containing the data (metadata, to be even more specific) about what you are going to download.
The download process is fast because you are not only downloading the Torrent file from one user: you are doing it from other sources too, making the process speedier and smoother. The quickness with which these files download is the most preferred features by people using torrents around the world.
The activity of torrenting per se is not necessarily illegal. However, most countries have among their laws a clause for copyrighted material and intellectual property on their legal instruments: Canada has the “Copyright Modernization Act.”
In some cases, although many people would argue, with good reason, that it is in most cases, countries do not clarify whether torrenting is legal or not, and which of the content available online can get you in trouble with the law. Canada fits the description: there is an evident gray area when it comes to torrenting and the law.
It is not clear whether Canada permits peer-to-peer networks and technologies, such as sharing Torrent files. It will always depend on what content you are trying to download and if you are “seeding” or uploading content, thus feeding the network with torrents that may not be allowed for distribution since they represent copyrighted material.
Canada also has the particularity of having a federal system that allows provinces to have different laws and legal instruments, so the legality of torrenting will additionally depend on where you are on the Canadian map.
To sum up, the activity of torrenting is not banned in Canada, and you can share and download movies, TV series, documentaries, a concert, or your favorite artist’s entire discography so long the content is not protected by the copyright laws of the country, or the province, for that matter.
The government severely punishes piracy in Canada, and that is why it looks with such evil eyes at the people who, on purpose or without intentions, act like “seeders” in the torrenting universe. Attempting to acquire pirated multimedia content can bring you a lot of legal issues.
In Canada, movie studios and music labels need to continually renew their copyrights to remain as active owners of the intellectual content that they produce. So, if you choose to download torrents from a group that hasn’t renewed its copyright since 1995, you are free to do so because the content is now of public domain.
The activity becomes illegal when people acquire multimedia content that they don’t have the right to own or distribute since it is protected by the copyright law of Canada in that case. This infraction exists in Canada since the first half of the XIX century, but there have been apparent adaptations to the rules to incorporate newer multimedia elements such as videos, audio, and music.
You need to be alert when you are torrenting in Canada, because you may be violating the law without even knowing, and your internet service provider unless you own and use a VPN client, can monitor you. It can also inform the government or take the issue with its own hands, usually by slowing down your connection or giving you a warning.
If you want to torrent in peace while being in Canada, the best thing you can do is use a VPN that helps you hide your IP address and remain anonymous on the Internet, without the government or your ISP spying on your traffic and activity. Most VPN don’t keep logs of your online ventures, which is a very desirable trait in this particular country if what you want is to share torrent files and download videos and music.
By now, you know that some countries are not happy with torrenting because it may result in legal and copyright infringement issues. Canada, in particular, is very protective of the intellectual property around the web, and you could say that the country encourages people not to ‘torrent.’
The Canadian Copyright Modernization Act is the instrument guiding citizens in what they need to know about the copyright, it’s possible infringements, and punishment in the case of apparent violations. Torrenting can result in one of the above because some users indiscriminately share content without even checking the copyright information.
The old Copyright Act focused on written publications, although the newer instrument has added video, audio, and music files as the intellectual property that should be copyrighted and protected to avoid piracy and other illegal activity.
One of the crucial segments of the Copyright Modernization Act is the “format shifting.” It refers to the acquisition of the same property you currently own but in a distinct format, for example, acquiring the private version of a concert DVD, or a CD, in a digital audio form, which is a common occurrence in our world.
The “format shifting” activity is entirely legal, but, according to the Copyright Modernization Act, it is not legal to distribute digital content that disrupts the “digital locks” or “Technological Prevention Methods” (TPMS) that are present in most DVDs and CDs. The mentioned scenario creates confusion, which results in a gray area that people that are torrenting take advantage of in Canada.
Users need to be careful while they use the format shifting approach to download torrents because while the government hasn’t had the interest in clarifying the contradiction described, it could potentially lead to trouble if they decide to do it.
Since the amendment of the Copyright Modernization Act in 2015, Internet Service Providers are in the obligation to notify users if they see any activity that they may consider dubious or illegal. One of those events is torrenting, although in most cases, users can do it in peace as long as you respect copyrights and do not promote piracy.
VPNs are online encryption tools or resources that are known for enhancing privacy, security, and anonymity among web users. They take your IP address and hide it from any third parties out there looking to use it to track you. The Canadian government will have a hard time knowing you are torrenting because you will become almost invisible on your online ventures.
VPNs also help you access or unblock restricted content around the web, no matter where you are. Virtual Private Networks are sought after for torrenting because they help you protect your IP address, thus giving you another layer of protection in a dangerous activity like sharing data and files with strangers via torrenting.
Since there is a six-month data retention requirement for Canadian IPS and VPNs in place, you may want to find and install a VPN that isn’t in the nation. Otherwise, it will retain logs of your traffic for half a year.
IPVanish: The fastest option in the market, reaching up to 74 Mbps. It has servers in over 60 countries, and more than 40,000 IP addresses to give away. With DNS leak protection and robust encryption protocols, IPVanish is your best choice for torrenting in Canada.
TorGuard: The safest option, with very robust encryption technologies that protect you while you share torrent files in Canada. It has a top-notch customer service, ready to attend your calls or inquiries via chat or email.
Private Internet Access (PIA): If you are looking for value for your buck, then PIA should be your choice. This VPN client is reliable across the board, and it lets you torrent with its good speeds and more than 3000 servers.
GhostVPN: Enjoy excellent AES 256-bit encryption and a 15-day money-back guarantee with GhostVPN, another option if you don’t have the money to pay for IPVanish or TorGuard.
Check our list of best VPN services in Canada for more providers!
If you want to enhance your privacy while torrenting in Canada and download content from all kinds without having to worry about the government and its constant surveillance of your acts, you could implement additional measures other than getting a VPN.
Remember that most of the times you don’t know if you are uploading content, and that is the thing that concerns the government and your ISP the most because the majority of torrent clients do the uploading process automatically. It is also known as “seeding.”
But, fortunately, you can choose to disable seeding or the uploading of content from your part. It is as straightforward as to modifying the settings of your preferred torrent client with the intention of preventing it from upload data or files. Some torrent providers can avoid the uploading process by trade.
In conclusion, what you need to know about torrenting in Canada is that you are allowed to do it as long as you read and understand everything on the Copyright Modernization Act. Respecting intellectual property and copyrighted content is the central issue in the country, not the act torrenting itself.
Every province has its interpretation of the legal documents and some different laws among themselves, but if you want to torrent files in absolute peace, get a VPN service like IPVanish, TorGuard, PIA or GhostVPN and turn off seeding in your torrent client.