copyright scruples

Is reading just a few pages from copyrighted book online a grave matter?
I was reading a Catechism of the Catholic Church online in my native language from a official page where it was put on, the page is not maintained well, and there were a few parts missing. So I went to other source and read a few pages (maybe 5) that were missing from official page. I doubt that a person from that other place had a permission to put a catechism there. Was it a grave matter?

How can that be a grave matter? A grave matter is something in the nature of deep error, harm and sin. If you discern that you have done something not exactly right, make sure you confess it at your next confession.

Hi Les:

They want you to read it, so don’t worry. Every Catholic wants the Catechism to be broadcast to everyone in the world, without restrictions or copyrights. I’m sure some company/corporation would like to copyright the Bible too, if they could get away with it (but we won’t let them). The Catechism is a beautiful part of our human culture, our catholic view…it is not for sale, and it is certainly not for profit. The entire (fulltext) of the Catechism is online, here:

Some people worry way too much about copyright. Thankfully, the fear of governments and corporations is dying out…when I ask my students in class, many don’t even care about it anymore. “Sir, we can get all that online, for free!” The younger generation has lived its entire life on a (largely free) internet, it seems…and they’re not gonna let companies put it all behind paywalls or barriers. Read it all you want; there is no sin here.

And if you are still worried, consider Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” (Emphasis Mine) So don’t worry if you had to go to some other website to read what you wanted to read. Again, there is no sin here.


Now if some doofus has put a big “Copyright” notice on some translation of the Catechism, fine, there’s a free workaround. Just take the pages you want from the English links here:

And run them through Google Translate, here:

And presto-voila, you have the text you want, in the language of your choice. Good luck.


PS: I gotta wonder about all of this. There couldn’t be a better example for what I’ve been complaining about in the other threads. Copyrights? Now on Webpages? For the Catechism? For Crying Out Loud. Talk about suspension of disbelief…and no, I swear I didn’t make this up. If there could ever be a posterchild for the futility of despair, this would be it…don’t worry Les you didn’t do anything wrong. The professional copyright sockpuppets, hypocrites and pharisees are the real sinners here…“whatever you do, don’t download this or God will come along and strike you down.” Sheesh!

I’d just like to say that copyright theft is a serious issue and is grave matter in many cases.

The example cited above is, however, most probably a major exception to the rule. The Catechism is available to view online for free on a wide number of legal websites…

I’d be surprised if someone wanted to run their own website hosting it if they would not be given appropriate permissions.

If you want your own copy on an e-reader or paper copy then you need to pay for it… but just to read on-line that’s widely available for free.

Thank you all for your replays, you have been very helpful :slight_smile:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit