Internet Piracy and the 7th commandment


any form of unjustly taking and keeping the property of others is against the seventh commandment"-CCC 2409

There it is plain as day, so why can’t I wrap my brain around it?

Piracy is not stealing, it’s copying. By this logic am I not also breaking the 7th commandment when I burn a CD I purchased and give it to my friends?

The movie and music industry makes billions of dollars and uses that money to put smut, and corrupt our youth with gay themes and witch craft. Am I really to confess and feel bad when I pirate some audio books or the new guardians of the galaxy movie?

I’ve never had a problem with the Churchs teachings on anything until this, so clearly I’m missing something. Help me find it!


Like it or not, Piracy is theft. Denying that is a cop-out compounding the sin. If you have any doubt about this, talk it over with a priest in Confession.


talk it over with a priest in Confession.

Will do.

Piracy is synonymous with theft, and I think you’re reading to much into it.

If I were to call it copying instead of piracy it becomes very grey. People at my local parish have burned CD’s and given them to me. Was it wrong of me to accept them and not buy them myself?

If someone buys some material and wants to share it with the rest of the world for free isn’t it a gift and not sin?

I’m sorry to say this, but your answer seems like a cop-out.


Of course piracy is theft.

The music you duplicated/book you photocopied/whatever is provided under license on the proviso that you pay for a non exclusive right to the single copy you have purchased. You are not entitled to make further copies (save for exceptional personal use circumstances as permitted by law).

To make a copy of someone else’s music/book/whatever or to pass to someone else a copy of music/books/whatever in your possession is to deny to the person who originally sold you the goods the fruits of their labours - i.e. payment which they are rightfully due.

That is theft.

It is therefore sinful.

I would go so far as to say that wilfully continuing to carry out such theft upon having been instructed of the sinful nature of the activity is a mortal sin, as it’s a very easy concept to understand.


Talked to my priest about it. He told me that it is infact a grey area.

To say steal a new movie that’s out in theaters affects the theater and the people who work in the theater, while on the other hand some artists don’t care if you copy their works. It’s about conscience, who is this hurting?

To make a copy of someone else’s music/book/whatever or to pass to someone else a copy of music/books/whatever in your possession is to deny to the person who originally sold you the goods the fruits of their labours - i.e. payment which they are rightfully due.

So you don’t accept burned CD’s or mix tapes, and if you do you confess it? If so you’re the first person i’ve heard of doing such a thing.

If I want to download a classic book on audio or an old movie that I have on VHS already, who is that hurting?


It seems like the logic behind digital piracy as theft is this: when one buys a CD or DVD, she pays money for that one item. Lending it to a friend is fine, but when that item is duplicated into two items, she has now paid for one item and has two of that item without the permission of the person from whom she purchased it initially.

If the issue is with the industry itself producing objectionable content, then don’t use products from that industry.


Correct. That is also stealing.

If you don’t like the movie industry, don’t use their products.


People who are willing to have you copy and redistribute their material usually release it with a Creative Commons license. If they haven’t done so then you do not have the right to decide on their behalf that they should not be paid for their work.

You wouldn’t want to go to work and then not get paid. Why do you think artists should work for nothing?


I have a hard time with this, too.

Where do lending libraries and second-hand stores fall into this?

An author/producer/musician doesn’t have to give their permission for a library to buy their work, then lend it out. So I borrow it, and get to enjoy the work for “free” ( setting aside the objection that tax payer money funds libraries).

That’s where I get very confused about intellectual property type sins.

Also, there really are some artists who are happy to get their work out there, not worried about making money. Especially the ones who are just starting out.


Dear SuspiceMeDomine–I do occasional unpaid acting gigs because it’s fun. I have a day job that pays my bills.

I’m not saying actors and other artists should work for free, but sometimes we do just for the love of our craft!


The morality of piracy is a complex issue it is simply incorrect to call it out right theft this is due to a variety of reasons.

First and foremost the assertion of piracy being equal to theft is based on the misconceived notion that media which was pirated would have been bought legally, that simply isn’t true. People who pirated something likely would not have bought it if they didn’t have the ability to download it. Take for example Sony Vegas Pro, it’s a $600 video editing program, do you really think a 15-year-old in high school making minimum wage, would have bought that program if he couldn’t have pirated it? Or (as I heard someone say) what about people living in oppressive nations such as China or Pakistan , piracy may be the only way they could enjoy a culture they otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to. See you’re having to make the assumption that piracy equals lost profits, which is debatable at best.

There areas were piracy cannot reasonably be considered immoral. Such as, someone who has bought a Blu-ray/DVD and had it scratched beyond being able to play. Why should that person have to pay for something again, when they have already legally bought it?
What about people who want to try out a videogame, they downloaded, see if they like it, if they do they then pay for it, if they dislike it then, not wanting to keep a subpar game on their hard drive, delete it and are saved from wasting $60 on a unenjoyable game.

Last I can’t feel sympathetic to an industry which has tried to implement such laws as SOPA and PIPA, which would’ve made it illegal to use copyrighted material in creative arts and parodies. And would censor sites not dedicated to piracy but with some perceived infringement.

So is piracy immoral? Not in my opinion.


The owner of the work has the right to lend it or to sell it on, so both libraries and second-hand stores operate within the copyright law. As do you or I if we lend an album to a friend, or sell it to them.

But the copyright law prohibits copying of the work. We cannot make a duplicate and give that to our friend.

Yes, some artists are happy to give away their works. They can do this via their websites or some other means. There are also services such as Vevo where several major record labels let you watch music videos for free - and they receive advertising revenue.

We should never assume any given artists wants to give away their work unless they have set up a way to do this (which is not hard to do). So this argument can never be used to justify illegal downloading in general.


In the US it falls under the “first sale” doctrine. Once you purchase something (like a book or disc) you can use it or dispose of it in any way you wish. So if you purchase a CD you can keep it, give it away, etc. If the library buys a copy they can lend it out.

In the case of some materials – primarily scholarly journals – there are very different prices for individual subscriptions and library subscriptions. An individual may pay $100 for the same subscription that costs a library $1,000. So the publisher is accounting for the fact that many people will use the library copy.

In the UK they having something called the Public Lending Right where there are payments to authors for library copies. I don’t know how that works.

An author/producer/musician doesn’t have to give their permission for a library to buy their work, then lend it out. So I borrow it, and get to enjoy the work for “free” ( setting aside the objection that tax payer money funds libraries).

But keep in mind that if the library needs 10 copies to meet demand, they buy 10 copies. They don’t simply buy one copy and reproduce it as many times as they need.

But you decide to give away your art, someone else doesn’t force you to do it. The point is that it is the artist’s choice to make, not for the potential thief to decide that the artist must give it away.


It’s stealing intellectual property without permission and is illegal. No matter how you slice and dice it is the sin of theft and trying to rationalize the act and encouraging others to do it is an even larger sin.


You have me all wrong. I’ve already stopped downloading and plan to keep it that way. For the sole purpose of loyalty to the church of Christ. I only wished for help understanding why.

I can follow blindly, but I’m gonna ask questions about things I don’t understand.

In my opinion there is no difference between copying an audio book and reading a book that’s in the library, or taking some music that I can here on YouTube or the radio for free anyways.

But that could very well be why I’m laity and not the Pope. Maybe someday the church will clarify more on this subject.


It’s been explained above that books in libraries are purchased with the understanding that they will be loaned to readers. If you wish to borrow a DVD or CD from a friend and enjoy it then that is fine but if you take that media and make an illegal copy it’s stealing intellectual property.

Choirs cannot buy one piece of sheet music and copy it for the choir they must buy individual pieces. High schools, churches and community centers cannot put on plays unless they pay royalties.

If you make copies or use intellectual property without permission it is wrong and theft.


I found this thread while I was searching for information on whether one should confess “sins” like software piracy and illegal media download. While I fail to find definite answer, what I read allowed me to formulate my own opinion.

The words or action can be classified as right or wrong based on three rules:

*]Ethical - based on the accepted norms and protocols of the society; society here can be a the neighborhood, work place, culture, professional association, etc. Ethical rules may or may not be written.
*]Legal - based on the written laws formulated by the government and imposed either by the state or by local government using the police and the courts.
*]Moral - absolute standards of right and wrong as mandated by God and best determined through one’s conscience.

There are several overlaps in these three rules. Murder, for example, is wrong legally, morally, and ethically, and all three also agree that killing someone in self-defense is not wrong.

Some violations are ethical but neither legal nor moral. If you are a student writing his or her thesis and you forgot to provide citation on some of the information that you use, you probably deserve to fail and not to graduate, but you certainly do not deserve to go to jail or to hell.

Internet piracy, counterfeit copy, and similar wrong-doings would fall under both legal and ethical domains but not under the moral domain. The only way I could think of that would make it morally wrong is if you sell a pirated copy and try to pass it off as legal copy.

The sacrament of confession is only for doing actions that are morally wrong.

That often repeated statement that “piracy is stealing” is nothing but an empty rhetoric promulgated by big media companies. Piracy is piracy and stealing is stealing. I haven’t heard any of these companies suing pirates for theft or robbery, but they sue them for violation of laws that are specifically about media piracy.


It’s theft as defined by any legal definition you choose to use and illegal therefore immoral.

“Thou shalt not steal”

It’s not an optional commandment.


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