Is it legal to transfer large amounts of encrypted data peer to peer in Canada?

  1. I transfer data from my friend PC in another country.
  2. The data is encrypted, so nobody can ever know which data it is.

An article from 2006 states the following:

In Canada, the Copyright Act protects all works and prohibits the confection of copies or the communication to the public without authorization. Thus, as a general rule, Internet file-sharing is illegal.

Is it true? Is it about any file-sharing or only for copyrighted works? Does it mean that file-transfer is also illegal because I don't share I copy onto my PC.

  • The operative part of your quote is “without authorisation”. If you have authorisation from the copyright holder to distribute to another party, you are fine. If you are distributing to yourself, even by uploading to another service (think AWS or Azure) then you are also fine.
    – user28517
    Apr 26, 2020 at 21:31
  • @Moo the very important piece here is that data is encrypted, so nobody able to tell what is it. Maybe this is my friend's wedding video.
    – Yola
    Apr 26, 2020 at 22:04
  • Doesnt matter - most internet traffic is encrypted these days. If encryption was “bad” then no one could use https, banking sites or VPNs.
    – user28517
    Apr 26, 2020 at 22:36
  • @Moo no this matters. Torrents aren't encrypted in some sense. A copyright holder can start seeding and then send infringement notice to everybody who received his content. And he knows exactly which content. But I accept content only from a trusted source and nobody can see what is inside.
    – Yola
    Apr 26, 2020 at 23:11
  • Yeah, i think you are thinking about this too much - copyright infringement is copyright infringement, regardless of the means of transport and whether you get caught or not. And the flip side is also true - if you have permission from the copyright holder then you can transfer files any way you like.
    – user28517
    Apr 26, 2020 at 23:14

1 Answer 1


Encryption of data is relevant only if your permission from the copyright holder is contingent on the data being encrypted. First, if you did not create the content and it is protected by copyright (generally it is), you have to have permission to copy it. If the rights-holder says "you may copy it or transfer it to X, but only if you use a (particular) secure file transfer protocol", then you can't copy / transfer it unencrypted. But if you hold the copyright, then you can do whatever you want with the content.

  • So, there is no restriction to transfer peer-to-peer my own content? If you could provide a reference to read more about it that would be wonderful.
    – Yola
    Apr 26, 2020 at 23:11
  • 1
    "The reading" is fairly long and opaque: laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-42/FullText.html. The core is that the creator has "the sole right to produce or reproduce the work", and that covers all means of reproduction – there isn't a specific law about peer-to-peer "sharing" rights.
    – user6726
    Apr 27, 2020 at 0:51

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