TV shows, movies, music and other content online

In Canada, services that broadcast over the Internet don't need a licence from the CRTC, as we exempted them from this obligation. We do not intervene on content on the Internet.

Why is content blocked?

Like many Canadians, you probably watch movies and TV shows, and listen to music online, using a computer, tablet or smartphone. But when the content you want isn’t available because of geoblocking, it can be frustrating. And it’s not something the CRTC controls.

Geoblocking is a way of restricting what you can view or listen to online based on your geographic location. It is used to limit access to films, TV shows, and music based on copyright and licensing requirements.

For example, if a Canadian broadcaster pays a fee to air a program or musical selection in Canada, and the website where you are watching or listening to the content hasn’t bought those same rights, then you won’t be able to access the content on that site. It doesn’t matter where the site originates; if you are in Canada, and the site hasn’t bought Canadian rights, then the content may be geoblocked in your location.

In Canada, services that broadcast or stream content online don't need a licence. Whether you can view or listen to content on a site is based on distribution rights.

What are distribution rights?

TV producers can sell the rights to air a program with limitations on where, when, and for how long it can be viewed. Record companies sell the rights to musical selections in much the same way.

These contracts, which have a specific duration, typically spell out where a broadcaster has the right to air a given show or musical selection and how many times it may be aired. By selling a show or musical selection multiple times to different entities around the world, producers are better able to make a return on their investment.

Does the CRTC make rules about how distribution rights are sold?

The CRTC doesn’t have rules that dictate how TV producers and record companies can sell their programs and musical selections, nor does any other Canadian government body. Producers can sell the broadcast rights to their property in any way they wish.

For example, a producer may sell the TV-viewing program rights to a Canadian TV station, but may decide to sell the online-viewing program rights to someone else. The producer can decide whether to allow non-Canadian TV websites to show programs only in the U.S., across North America, or any other way.

Does the CRTC block access to certain websites?

No, websites often purchase the right to show programs or play musical selections only to viewers who visit from a specific territory stipulated by the producer. These websites determine where you are located based on your IP address, which specifies the location where you connect to the Internet.

If the website determines that you are located in a region or country where it doesn’t have the right to show the program, it usually displays a message to that effect.

Can I do anything about offensive content on the Internet?

For content generated in Canada, there are Canadian laws, industry-developed guidelines, and content filtering software to deal with content that may be offensive. You can look at your Internet service provider's "Acceptable Use Policy" for more information about their standards. You can contact either your Internet service provider or your local police department to report illegal content.

The Government of Canada has set up, a national tip line for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children. It also provides other resources to help Canadians keep their children safe while on the Internet. Visit or call toll-free at 1-866-658-9022.

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