Am I morally obligated to turn this person in?

Salvete, omnes.

I have a very, very close friend (and potentially even more) who is otherwise a very sound, moral person. However, I know that he is pirating several softwares. He is also not very wealthy at all and thinks that it is therefore more acceptable to “crack” software.

I do plan to cnfront him about this but, if he does not repent of what he is doing, am I morally obligated to turn him in to authorities for this? Even though we are very close and may even have a future together? I was thinking that I might be considered morally complicit in his piracy if I don’t and I* might also be contributing to him not getting the punishment he morally and legally deserves which may even help to rehabilitate him. So, again, what do you think? Am I morally obligated to turn this guy in, even though I (perhaps a bit selfishly) care about him too much to see him face even possible jail time and possibly a risk or more to our friendship or whatever more may come of our current relationship?


Nice baiting.

Tough position to be in. As to the moral question, pirating is stealing, one of the big no-nos according to the tablets Moses received some while back. To abet someone in stealing, even by one’s silence makes one a part of it. The law calls it “accessory after the fact.” Suggest you ask a priest in confession about it?

The legal part is probably a little more straightforward. Rent a DVD movie and you will always see the anti pirating warning. Interpol and the FBI investigate copyright infringement (which is a federal and international offense) and parties found guilty of such are subject up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.00. Additionally, the party whose copyright work is pirated can sue for lost revenue and damages. Again, think of those words, “accessory after the fact”, or maybe just “accessory”

Besides, (and I am sorry if this sounds harsh) but why do you want to enter a possibly permanent relationship with a thief?

Good luck, and I suggest, do the right thing.


To the first poster, please do not be so quick as to accuse people of “baiting”, because that’s not always true.

In response to the next post, I think that, if you were in my shoes, you would not find it nearly so easy as you make it out to be.

As I said, he’s perfectly fine in every other way I know of up to this point and I only found out about the software situation YESTERDAY. I’ve know this guy for over a year now (granted, long-distance at this point). Still, I have also grown quite close to him.

You would be surprised at how common pirating of this sort and other sorts is, especially among those who know technology well.

I think you missed my first words in the post. I know it is a tough position to be in. I get the feeling you are disappointed and troubled. My main idea in the post is that there are definite things to consider. Copyright infringement is a crime. If caught it can be very costly. That’s all I wanted to point out.

You say I would be surprised to seen how common it is. I don;t doubt that. But because it is common doesn’t make it any less wrong. Do piraters take food off the table of the families/persons whose work they pirate?

A poster on this site signs his/her posts with a phrase from Archbishop Fulton Sheen. It goes something like: “a truth is a truth even if nobody believes it; and a lie is a lie even if everyone believes it.”

Good luck in whatever direction you choose.


Of course, that has nothing to do with whether or not piracy is right.

Stealing an operating system and digital audio workstation—which can both retail from anywhere between 100 and several hundred dollars—is a moral failing. It’s wrong to do that, no matter what sort of income you have, and how many other people do it. In fact, the more thieves there are, the more a company like Image-Line is losing on their software. It’s never right to take another person’s property without their (real or implied) knowledge and permission.

Now, I’m not going to say that someone like this is an awful person, because I don’t know them. But they’re giving themselves permission to do something wrong based entirely on selfish reasons. That at the very least should raise concerns about whether or not your moral world-view matches his. The fact that you don’t know each other in real life adds at least 82,982 other red flags, quite frankly. You can’t properly discern these things behind a computer screen.

Confronting him about this is probably only useful if you genuinely think he would actually listen to you. For some reason, you know his rationale for stealing—he’s poor—and so I suspect this has already come up in some capacity.

Turning him in, well, I have no idea what would happen to him. Honestly, I don’t know what to do about that. You’re not Catholic, but if I were you, I would go to a trusted Priest for council. This is moral minutia that I’m not educated enough to analyze on my own.

But there’s also the option of simply cutting the friendship short, on the grounds that you and he have moral world-views which are at odds. Obviously, we have sinners in our lives, and we ARE sinners. But if you feel romance flames coming up, I would encourage you to think long and hard about the notion of being comfortable stealing when a person thinks they’re safe to do so. That doesn’t strike me as being remotely Christian, and I think people who follow Jesus should try to build their future families with those who do the same.

Really, based upon your own witness - this person is a thief …

You ask … now what can / should you do moving forward - Well - you have a God given right to free will - how will you exercise that free will - only you can answer …

  1. Tell him to cease and desist in this theft - go out and purchase the software … help him to do so if you can -

and / or

  1. End the relationship - and thus your complacency with the action … and since you only learned of it yesterday - ending it may relieve you of culpability … if he wont see reason and get “legal”

and / or

  1. Turn him in … if he wont get legal and you want to move ahead … its tough love … you can help him deal with the results of his actions - or leave

and / or

  1. Join him in defrauding copyright laws … become an accessory to the theft of property … this one I do not recommend … but it is an option and one that you seem to be leaning towards … with this

As I said, **he’s perfectly fine in every other way **I know of up to this point and I only found out about the software situation YESTERDAY. I’ve know this guy for over a year now (granted, long-distance at this point). Still, I have also grown quite close to him.

I don’t think folks get that, in all other ways that I can tell, he’s a person of strong conviction. For some reason, stealing if it’s software is an entirely different kettle of fish for him (as I think it is for a lot of folks). In all other ways, so far as I can tell, he is quite upright. I don’t see him being the type to steal physical things or to go any further than this criminally.

Again, I plan to confront him about it in as appropriate way as I can.

And, yes, the ultimate question is whether I am morally obligated to turn him in to authorities if he doesn’t repent or whether I can merely wait and wanr him that he could be caught if he doesn’t repent.

Of course, in any case, I would continue to pray for and warn him with moral and even hellfire arguments.

So many here have told me to dump him both as a friend and otherwise.

I am NOT AT ALL the kind of person to leave someone easily. I will stick by them for as long as it does not significantly affect my own spiritual health. I value relationships far more than to just drop one at the drop of a hat. It’s a wonder folks who are so willing to do this have any friends at all, fickle as they are. Just being honest in saying this…

I understand, but I do wonder how you know that. Unless I’m mistaken, you don’t know him in person, is that true?

But I do tend to agree. He may not have atrocious morals in general simply because he pirates. In that case, it seems your best bet is to reason with him. If he has a genuine moral sense, you will make progress.

I would certainly try that before I tried contacting Microsoft. :wink:

You are correct. I don’t know him (yet) personally, but I do, indeed, plan to meet him sooner rather than later. (He’s actually international.) It is that serious of a close friendship right now.

Yeah, I do plan on trying to reason with him, even if it ends up taking a bit.

Then - you help him get legal …

I actually did not tell you what to do at all … only you can decide … and you know what the the right answer is … for him not to persist in being illegal …

And you defense is silly … he okay except where He does not see a reason to be … well … what is the next issue he will not see a reason to be honest? …

What he is essentially saying is its not right to steal from your next door neighbor but it is okay to steal from a bank … :shrug:

Or perhaps it is something like I wont steal from my GF’s purse but I can steal from by employer’s receipts … :shrug:

And of course we are not talking about stealing a loaf a bread to prevent starvation … he has not life or death need for stealing software p he can defer using software until he can afford to purchase it - it is not life or death

You came here and asked a question … what this person is doing is not morally or legally correct - we know that and so do you :rolleyes:

Well, we all now how you feel about him.
Tell him of your convictions, your disapproval and dismay at this activity and give him an ultimatum.
If he loves you, he will comply and he will come to appreciate your wisdom.
If he leaves you over it…well, he didn’t feel the same way. A man who loves a woman will not put her in an immoral position.
You never know. He may say "you know what? I’ve never thought about it that way, I always considered that it was a victim-less crime, but now I see you are right, and I’m sorry.
It could happen. All is not necessarily lost.
But if he won’t change his pirating ways…I’m afraid you know what that answer is already. Or else you would not have asked.

Good luck.

You are automatically assuming that, because he has issues in this area, he is automatically a massive sinner in other ways or that he will become one. Granted, this often is the case, ut it shouldn’t be an automatic assumption. Obviously I know him far better than any of you do and I don’t see it. Of course, if I do, I will certainly startto re-evaluate things; there’s no question about this.

Well, this is about someone who is a friend of yours who happens to live a long distance away and for whom you seem to be developing romantic feelings.

The fact that such a person is doing something that is basically a form of deceit should raise red flags. Yes, it could be a minor character flaw. It could also be a bit of truth that’s coming out through the crack in an online persona they’re creating.

Again, the long distance thing is the first problem here. If you knew him in real life and knew he was just a dork who pirated, that’s one thing.

I did not say he automatically would become a major crook …

I said its the same as …

You are the one who is making the piracy of software some how a different kind of theft …

But you know it is not … theft is theft whether it is one dollar from your purse, a $100 from an employer or it is a $1000 the ATM …

He is stealing software because he is pretty sure he wont get caught as opposed to stealing a TV from the house next door …

As a man with integrity told me once - he never wanted people to say of him that he was “Basically honest” … because the person who is basically honest is in reality only honest when they think they will be caught … dishonest when they feel they will get away with it … in Truth a person is either honest or not …

I think you need to decide how serious of a moral failing “this area” happens to be. If you don’t think it’s a big deal, why are you concerned about reporting some guy who lives in another country? Why are you concerned that he might go to jail if you rat him out? If you do think it’s a big deal, isn’t that enough to give you pause?

Hi Misty,

If you’re torn up about what to do, then if I were you I would talk to a Minister or Elder in your church about it, for some help and guidance.

As Christians, if we do see someone that we love and care about doing something that we believe to be morally questionable regarding their behavior, we do have a right to talk to them about it. I believe it falls under, “admonishing the sinner.”

It’s considered a spiritual work of mercy.

Here is a link to an article from catholicculture about admonishing the sinner, by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, if anyone would like to take a look at it. It explains different types of admonishing:

From the Gospel of Luke

“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.”

You are morally obligated to protect your own soul.

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