Time Shifting

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June 2008

For people who want to record a television or radio program to view or listen to at another time

The purpose of this information sheet is to give general introductory information about current copyright law and to explain what would change under the proposed amendments. If you need to know how the law applies to a particular situation, please seek advice from a lawyer.

Current law

  • The Copyright Act does not specifically allow you to record a television or radio program.

What the proposed time shifting provision would allow

  • What could be recorded? — Television or radio programs to which you have legal access, including on-demand programs, cable and satellite TV programs, and programs aired simultaneously on the Internet and on TV or radio.
  • How many copies could be made? — One recording, and no further copies.
  • On which devices? — Any device you own, including VCRs, personal video recorders, audio cassettes, computers, etc., but not when the program is stored on the server of your cable or satellite provider.
  • Where could you view or listen to the copy? — Anywhere, as long as it is for private purposes.
  • Who could view or listen to the copy? — You, with members of your family or friends.


  • The time-shifted recording could not be sold, distributed, performed in public or otherwise communicated to the public. It would have to remain under the care and control of the person making the copy.
  • You could not circumvent or hack a technological measure (digital lock) to make the time-shifted recording. However, you could record programs obtained through a decoder lawfully provided to you through your satellite or cable service provider.
  • The time-shifted recording could not be kept indefinitely. It could not be stored to build a library of recordings.
  • You could not record something that is already an infringing copy (e.g., pirated or hacked).
  • If you entered into a contract with your service provider expressly prohibiting or limiting your ability to make recordings of on-demand programs, you would have to honour the terms of that contract to the extent that it restricts this provision.

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