Is it legal to view pornography that is taken and uploaded illegally?

For example is it illegal to view voyeur videos that have been uploaded to a site?

3 Answers 3


"Pornography" is used restrictedly to refer to child pornography: see this analysis: I assume the question is not about child porn. Section 163 of the criminal code outlaws production and distribution, but not consumption of obscenity. While ordinary sex films are probably not deemed to be obscene,

any publication a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime, horror, cruelty and violence, shall be deemed to be obscene.

Voyeurism is separately defined: it covers even simple nude shots, if they are taken surreptitiously. Again, the offens(c)e is in the making, not the seeing:

Every one commits an offence who, knowing that a recording was obtained by the commission of an offence under subsection (1), prints, copies, publishes, distributes, circulates, sells, advertises or makes available the recording, or has the recording in his or her possession for the purpose of printing, copying, publishing, distributing, circulating, selling or advertising it or making it available.

Illegal uploading could fall into three categories. First, it could be an act of distribution – in that sense, actual voyeuristic video is illegal to upload, though uploading normal sex tapes is not a crime. Second, it could be contrary to terms of service. Third, it could be copyright infringement. A person who sees such a thing can't reasonably be expected to know whether the copyright holder has given permission or whether it is an actual voyeuristic film, and the law does not hold a person responsible for knowing something that they can't reasonably know. They might know about the terms of service, but what would be relevant for them is whether the TOS prohibits viewing porn that is posted on the web page.

  • So it is OK to view and download such videos assuming it is not depicting a child?
    – qmejrxmd
    Jan 13, 2018 at 23:16
  • I would not say it is okay, but it is not illegal. In Canada (or the US).
    – user6726
    Jan 14, 2018 at 0:42
  • 1
    It's obviously not OK to view and download pornographic videos that were created without knowledge and permission of the persons depicted. Depending on what you believe, you might go to hell, but not to a jail cell.
    – gnasher729
    Jan 14, 2018 at 17:54
  • @qmejrxmd Well as this answer mentioned, there are still copyright issues. But other than that, yes it is ok (legally).
    – forest
    May 10, 2019 at 1:38
  • @gnasher729 (1/2) I am not sure this is the right place for such a discussion, and I object to the term “obviously”. Wikipedia, citing a Fashion & Style article, quotes Emily Ratajkowski as saying: “A lot of people who were victims of [the hack] said anyone who looks at these pictures should feel guilty, but I just don't think that's fair”. Apr 5, 2021 at 14:28

In NSW, Australia:

The Crimes Act makes it illegal in NSW to create, distribute, or possess “child abuse material.” That phrase includes films, pictures, and computer images that shows a child who is or appears to be under the age of 16:

  • as the victim of torture, cruelty, or physical abuse,

  • in a sexual pose or engaged in real or apparent sexual activity, or

  • in the presence of another person who is in a sexual pose or engaged in real or apparent sexual activity.

The law also prohibits the display of the “private parts” (the genital or anal area and female breasts) of a child, whether bare or covered by underwear.

The law only makes the material illegal if reasonable persons would find the material offensive, taking into account prevailing moral standards, the material’s artistic or educational merit, and the material’s general character. A photograph that appears in a medical text might therefore be acceptable while the same photograph in an entertainment magazine might be illegal.

Viewing such material is not illegal. However, having possession of it is. Given that computer technology creates and stores images viewed online locally, having these crosses the line into possession ... probably. Having child pornography innocently or unknowingly (e.g. in a genuine belief the person is an adult) is an affirmative defence.

  • So as long as the person depicted appears to be above the age of majority, it is OK?
    – qmejrxmd
    Jan 13, 2018 at 23:53
  • @qmejrxmd no, you must have a genuine belief - a person who appears in their late teens or early 20s may or may not be underage - how did you establish your genuine belief
    – Dale M
    Jan 14, 2018 at 0:02

You mean a copyright violation? A torrent perhaps? It is almost certainly as illegal as downloading an .mp3 or GOT. Do you fear (or have you received) an extortionate letter of demand ?

Or are we speaking of banned material, snuff, various fetish etc. ?

My interpretation is that you are speaking of hidden camera / upskirt / changing room material.

It is not generally illegal to view, however sharing is another matter, and this applies even if it is not strictly pornographic in most jurisdictions.

Paparazi fodder as well, generally not illegal, even if the act of capturing the image is illegal. This applies to leaked or stolen home made material (celebrity personal).

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