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We live in a day and age when people in the Western world fear of being arrested for things they say and/or do on the internet, and we mean that literally. Hence, today’s topic is dedicated to our readers in Canada: is torrenting illegal in Canada?
Without too much ado, let’s get right into the meat of the topic.
Is torrenting illegal in Canada?
Canada is a very interesting country in regard to enforcing copyright laws. On one hand, Canada’s criminal code did not cover copyright infringement issues, such as torrenting and the like. On the other hand, if you download “sensitive” stuff that makes for criminalized content, you may fall under Canada’s criminal code and face fines and even jail time. As usual, everything revolves around the nature of the content you’re downloading via torrenting, not on the technology, per se.
Torrenting in Canada
Canadians and torrenting are synonymous, as file sharing is common practice for downloading all types of content in Canada, whether we’re talking about copyright-protected content or otherwise. According to OECD reports, Canada used to boast the highest percentage of population in the world using torrents back in 2004, but nowadays, Canada hardly makes the top-ten in regard to downloading copyrighted contend. However, torrenting is still very popular in Canada, due to the country’s top-notch internet infrastructure which offers some of the fastest download-speeds in the world.
Hence, torrenting movies and TV shows (entertainment related contend mostly) has become increasingly popular, especially for the past few years, as well as downloading books, songs, and documentaries. Speaking of the popularity of torrents in Canada, according to official consumer surveys, 75 percent of Canada’s netizens are in good standing as far as copyright law is concerned, i.e. the vast majority of Canadians claim to never download copyrighted content.
However, approximately five percent of Canadians who access TV, movies, and other types of digital content online say they consume the respective content illegally. The federally commissioned survey interviewed over 3300 Canadians over the age of twelve.
Yet, a poll conducted by Kantar TNS which interviewed Canadian senior citizens (over 65 years of age) found that half of the netizens surveyed are acquiring at least part of their digital entertainment via illegal means. One in four Canadians say they ignore notices of copyright infringement from their ISPs, which means that at least 25 percent of Canadians consume pirated content one way or the other, torrenting included. The demographic lines in regard to copyright infringement in Canada are rather blurry, regardless of region (rural/urban), gender and employment status. Yet, piracy seems to be more frequent among the young, and strangely enough, among rich Canadians (household incomes of $100,000 or more). The study found that “Relative to total internet users, torrenting users are more likely to be male (62%) and are predominantly 18 to 34 (52%) years of age.”
Legal documents defining the use of torrent sites/files
Canada’s legislation with regard to torrenting revolves around the Copyright Modernization Act that was introduced back in 2011. Here a couple of excerpts from the law that may be interesting to torrenting aficionados from Canada:
-Limits the amount of statutory damages for cases of non-commercial infringement to between $100 and $5,000 for all infringements in a single proceeding for all works. Statutory damages for commercial infringement range from $500 to $20,000 per work infringed.
-Adopts a “notice-and-notice” regime which requires ISPs to forward any notice alleging infringement received from copyright owners to the subscribers in question.
Legal consequences for torrenting of copyrighted material in Canada
Torrenting copyrighted material in Canada (provided you get caught in the act) is not a criminal but a civil offense, which means that, worst case scenario, you’ll receive a fine, but you’ll not be facing jail time. For non-commercial copyright infringements, the minimum fine is $100, while the maximum stands at $5,000 (for all infringements in a particular lawsuit, not per infringement).
Torrenting-related lawsuit statistics in Canada
According to Canadian newspapers, copyright holders started cracking down on internet pirates following a law passed back in 2016, which requires internet service providers to send email notices to their clients who are caught downloading copyrighted content.
Even if most people ignore these email notices, as they’re not literal threats of legal action, approximately 1000 Canadians were sued since 2017 by movie right holders. In some cases, Canada’s federal courts have ordered “online-pirates” to pay statutory damages to the tune of $5,000 apiece to LHF Productions LLC and Headhunter LLC. There are also unknown numbers of people involved in John-Doe lawsuits who have paid undisclosed settlements on alleged copyright infringements.
How to torrent safely in Canada
Now comes the fun part, as we’ll teach how to torrent safely and anonymously in Canada. Provided you already have a BitTorrent client installed on your machine, here’s a short step-by-step tutorial:
Step 1: choose a VPN service provider and download/install the software on your computer by following the instructions.
Take a look at the best VPNs on the market today for a safe torrenting experience:
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Step 2: select a P2P server (keep in mind that some VPN providers offer dedicated servers for torrenting) and connect to it.
Step 3: check to see if your real IP address is hidden before starting torrenting. Click here to see your real IP address, then check it again with the VPN service started and see if it changes.
Step 4: when the VPN connection is established and your real IP address is changed, you can safely start torrenting.
Best VPN for torrenting in Canada
Finally, we are now going to recommend you the best VPN service provider for torrenting in Canada. And the winner is Astrill VPN.
Before you ask, here are the main reasons which make Astrill VPN the best choice for torrenting: first, the company is based in Seychelles, a country that doesn’t have data retention laws, meaning that you’ll be totally covered privacy-wise. On top of that, Astrill has more than 300 servers in over 62 countries, making for a higher-end VPN service provider with top notch and friendly live chat support (a rather rare feature) and sophisticated software.
Obviously, P2P applications are allowed and supported in OpenVPN or StealthVPN mode on selected servers, and all your web traffic is encrypted using AES-256. The software comes with the obligatory kill switch feature, which automatically shuts down your internet connection in case the software crashes or becomes compromised, thus preventing your IP from being revealed to third parties, along with built-in protection against DNS, IPv6 and WebRTC leaks.
It’s very important to learn that Astrill offers you dedicated servers for BitTorrent-based apps, which are optimized for P2P/torrenting, i.e. you’ll benefit from blazing download speeds for your favorite content and from unlimited bandwidth.
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Mikaela is an investigative journalist that likes to cover the ever-changing world of technology. She tries to keep her finger on the pulse of digital trends and share her insights on the most relevant topics, including big tech, security, privacy, and data breaches.