Downloading music -- conscience

Hi everyone

So I have a very extensive Itunes library that I took years to build. Before reverting to Catholicism in January '13, I had downloaded about 4000 songs illegally. However, in my library I also have about 3000 songs I downloaded legally (paid for them).

I have taken the decision to do something about this as it has been bothering me for about 2 weeks now. I really feel I should get rid of the songs I downloaded illegally. This is really painful for me but I know God would prefer it that way.

However, how can I go about doing this? I can’t really go through the whole library and manually deleting the ones I didn’t pay for. Other than taking me ages, there are certain albums that I can’t even remember if I paid for or not.

How do I do this? Do I just delete the whole thing? But that would seem rather harsh as I have so much music which I legally own in there.

Moreover, I downloaded about 80% of the free music I got in Italy when I used to live there, where it is not illegal to download music for free for personal use. This only adds to my dilemma.

Can someone please help me out? What should I do?

Hello JRTJ,

God is simple. Simply delete the songs that you remeber you downloaded illegally.
I don’t think it is a major sin if you don’t delete songs you don’t remeber if it was downloaded illegally or not.

It is only my opinion.

God bless you! :slight_smile:


I still don’t see how downloading things illegally is wrong. I mean, it’s not stealing.

If you downloaded the songs through iTunes, then they should show up under the “purchased” section in perpetuity. If you downloaded any through Amazon, they have an Amazon ID # in the comments field. That would help you identify at least the ones you may have obtained through those channels.

I have probably twice as many songs as you do. :o It’s not a one day project to go through it all. But you can go through it a little bit at a time if you need to. As Hope said, I wouldn’t sweat it too much if you honestly don’t remember about a particular song. Just do the best you can.


Not sure what you library looks like, but usually most services have a way for you to re-download songs you’ve already purchased.

If you’re able to do this, you could delete your entire library and then re-download all the songs you legally bought. It would take a while, but would ensure there are no songs on your library that you didn’t buy legally. If you have an external harddrive, you could copy your library there instead of deleting them. That way if there are any problems you can always revert.

The problem is there are a lot of complications to this. For instance, some artists release songs for free on the internet as a promo, so even if you downloaded it for free, that doesn’t mean it’s illegal. Like you also noted, other countries have different laws further complicating the matter.

If I were you, I’d reserve a small amount of time (perhaps an hour every weekend?) and go through the songs one by one and if you can readily identify a song as definitely illegal, delete it. It would be a long term project, but as long as you’re making a continued and sincere effort your conscience can be at peace. There are a lot of songs to go through, so it’s reasonable to take your time.

Hope that helps!

Yes it is.

4000 songs – at say a second or 2 a song – that is a little over an hour or many a little over 2 hours if you pause a bit.

3600 seconds in one hour.

This is not a theology answer, but it possibly suggests a practical solution to your problem.

Do the song files contain tags that could be used to determine the source? If you have some kind of file manager or music library software that can display tags, or, even better, sort by tags, that might be a practical approach to your problem. I don’t know the specifics, but you could investigate it for yourself.

For example, I bought a tune from Amazon, and the MP3 file contains a Comments tag:
Comments: Song ID: 203170800
If I had bought a lot of music files from Amazon, I could identify them by this kind of tag.

Another example: I have transferred a lot of my own CDs to MP3 files for my own use. This is legal in the US. I used Exact Audio Copy along with LAME, and this resulted in MP3 files containing the following tag:
Encoded by: Exact Audio Copy (Secure mode)
In my music collection, this tag could be used to identify the files I created.

May the Holy Spirit assist and guide you on a path to virtue and peace in this matter.

I would just delete the ones I could remember, but keep the rest.

Then make an effort to put together a sizable donation to charity as a way of showing your contrition.

Are you so sure?

Thank you all for your great advice. I have eliminated everything that needed to be eliminated, and I now bought Spotify Premium which allows you to listen to any music at any time for £9.99/month legally.

It was the right thing to do and I’m feeling much better now

God bless

I’m not sure why lots of people tend to think that piracy is not stealing.

Some make a parallel to borrowing from a friend. While I can get this, the difference is that if I borrow from a friend, only one copy of that item still exists. He no longer has it and I do. When we transmit files on the internet, a new copy of it is made. So it’s like I went to the factory, turned on the machine, made a new permanent copy, and took one for free. So now, two copies exist where one did before.

What about recording TV? Here, you’re paying for a license from your TV company (and by extension the owners of the content) to record the content on TV (with DVR or whatever). However, even here, you’re not given permission to create a permanent copy of that item.

Then there’s the if I download it, watch it, then delete it, how about then? Even here, you created a new copy, watched it, then deleted it. It’s more closely related to borrowing, but still you created a new copy without license to do so and took in the content for free.

I mean, I personally think that prices for music ($1 per song?) and movies ($25 for a newly released movie?) tend to be outrageous. However, no matter how you slice it, piracy is stealing. You don’t know how much people make comments that I actually buy movies rather than downloading them illegally.

don’t know about this one, i never saw anything about it, I remember that in the radio people asked for songs to be anounced before to have time to record them on cassete. don’t really know it might depend on the country, at least here in Mexico I heard some times that.

When VCRs came out, people made a big deal about whether the ability to record TV is stealing. You don’t think people made libraries of movies from recording them on TV?

When it comes to music, movies, and the like the boundaries between stealing and not can be quite quite blurred.

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