Movies - Copyright

The Internet has revolutionized how young people watch movies: half of Canadian teens say that they download movies without paying for them at least once a week. [1]

Downloading copyrighted material without paying for it, by any means including file sharing, is illegal. In Canada, the Copyright Act protects all intellectual property and forbids unauthorized copying.

Users who share files break the law in two ways:

  • by copying files for other users: Under the Copyright Act, private copying of copyrighted music is legal: this is limited to making a single copy of a musical work for your own personal use. There is no private copying exception for movies, software, or non-musical sound recordings. File sharing does not count as “private copying” because you are making a copy of something for someone else’s use when you make it available to be downloaded.
  • by sharing with other users: The basic principle of “file sharing” is sharing; other people provide us with access to their files and we give others access to ours. However, it is a violation of the Copyright Act to open to public access works that are protected by copyright because the copies are no longer “strictly for personal use”. Damages for this type of offence are between $500 and $20,000.

File-sharing or downloading illegal copies of movies isn’t the only way to watch them online: many are also available from retailers such as iTunes and legitimate streaming services such as Netflix.



[1] Hajar, Kelley. Teens & Movies: A Look At Canadian Teens’ Movie Preferences and Behaviors. Connect 13, April 2012.