Is downloading music always sinful?


I know that breaking the secular law does not mean committing sin in every instance. For instance you can record a television show and watch it at a later time legally, but if you watch it a second time you have broken the law. A rolling stop is illegal as is exceeding the speed limit while going downhill. I don’t thing that breaking these laws are always sinful, are they?.

Anyway my question is about downloading music you have already bought. When you buy music you can make copies for backup/personal use legally. So I have some CD’s that have a song or 2 that have been scratched and I also had several CD’s stolen for which I still have the cases, some that I don’t. I did not have all of these backed up and have replaced these songs by downloading them form P2P networks or torrents. I also downloaded songs that I own on cassette or vinyl and stuff that I have lost over the years. I am not 100% sure if my action was technically illegal or not, but I think it probably technically was.

Did I commit sin by doing this and if I did am I committing sin if I do not get rid of this music? Are some of the songs OK and others not based on individual circumstances?

I want to avoid sin but am worried about becoming scrupulous.


Downloading music is not sinful if you paid for it or it is in the public domain. Copyright laws are made to protect the livelihood of the material’s creator.

All authority comes from God. A legitimate authority uses that authority (hopefully) to preserve order in society. Most laws are morally neutral. Disobeying them is a sin, because, indirectly, it’s disobedience of God.


My wife got an Ipod. Before she had finished putting all her CD’s on to it her car got broken in to and all the CD’s in it were stolen.

So you are saying that it is not a sin for me to download them from a P2P network even though I am pretty sure it is technically illegal?

What about the cassette tape I bought in the 90’s? Is it morally acceptable to download the album so I can put it on my MP3 player? Does it make a difference if it had long ago been lost/stolen/damaged?


No. I didn’t say that. You are not allowed pass on your financial loss unless you paid for that priviledge (insurance).

What about the cassette tape I bought in the 90’s? Is it morally acceptable to download the album so I can put it on my MP3 player?

The MP3 is not the same as the album. It cost the producer to put it on the new format. They are justified in expecting compensation. Illegal copying denies them that compensation.

Does it make a difference if it had long ago been lost/stolen/damaged?

See the answer above.


What if I have a copy of a CD ‘ripped’ on my computer which my family owns by which I don’t personally keep on me?



Did you pay for that priviledge? What does the copyright say?


I don’t know what the copyright says.

I’m not sure how relevant my personal payment for it is-- after all, I’ve also received music as a gift. It was bought, by either my father or mother.

Honestly, just askin’.


Gift or not, someone should have paid for it.


I don’t see how me downloading to replace the music that was stolen is passing along any financial loss. That is exactly why I am having trouble seeing how it would be sinful. When you buy any music/DVD/cassete tape you have always have the right to back it up, you do not have to pay extra for that.

So then your saying it would be a sin to download the MP3 or rip my friends CD of something I only have on cassette. I would instead have to record my cassette on to the PC and convert it in to MP3, which is perfectly legal. End result I have a slightly lower quality version.

I actually think you are incorrect about it costing extra money to put it in the new format. They don’t re-record it or anything (usually for DVD’s they do special things to it to make it better in the interest of selling it, not so with audio). The only cost is the physical material and labor to produce the physical CD and if you are not interested in the physical CD then you are not denying them compensation. It is the same thing as making special collectors edition box, sure it costs them to produce the box, but are the people who have the old box causing financial loss by not buying the new one? No, the new box is for people to buy who don’t have the old one. Back in the day when they had vinyl and cassette, the price difference was in production and you had every legal and moral right to record your vinyl on to cassette. Did it cost extra to put produce it on both formats? Did the producers deserve to be compensated if you wanted it in both (recorded your record on cassette)?

Also would you say it was sin when someone would make a mix tape out of songs they own as thoughtful heartfelt gift to a dear friend? Technically illegal, but did it cause financial loss? Was it a sin on both the giving and receiving end?

And going back to your first post:

So watching a recorded show twice is a sin? What about if you watch it while the wife is at work, and when she gets home she wants to watch it. Do you have to leave the room to avoid sin? Every time you do a rolling stop is a sin? If you go one mile over the speed limit it’s a sin?

I thought the law was written in our hearts and that the one in stone had no power over us. Not forcing myself to come to a 100% complete stop at 3 AM when absolutely no one is around does not seem to violate the spirit of the law.


I buy all my music from iTunes, and my computer crashes a lot. I dont back my music up always right away, and sometimes I lose the music, it dissapears into the world of lost files resulting from a crash. So I download them again from a file sharing program since I already bought the music anyway.


Well I think that may be sinful as the person sharing over the P2P may be sinning and it would then be a sin to profit from it.

I am not sure about this:confused:

Besides anything you buy from Itunes is on record and can be re-downloaded so I am not sure why you would need to do that.


Someone did.



If you are caught would your explanations hold weight in court? or would you have to pay a fine? have your computer or ipod confiscated, etc?

There are ways to go about restoring your losses without resorting to theft. Many internet music programs have ways of registering your music so that if they are lost they can be replaced.

iTunes is only .99 cents per song, the quality is better and it’s guaranteed. Surely it wouldn’t break the budget to pay this for the songs you want.

I do think Christians are held to a higher standard.

If I steal a pen from work I confess it. The very idea that I would justify theft reveals my lack of trust in God to provide for all my needs and therefore I fall into the sin of doing things MY way rather than God’s way. This is the way you have to look at it, “what is this act revealing to me about my reliance on God?”, “does this act reveal I place all my reliance on Him or myself?”


i lose whole cds to computer crashes,im not paying for them again. If you lose something on itunes you dont get it back, one time download. It would be wrong for me to download a song i didnt pay for, but to download one i have already payed for and lost is fine.

If my friend buys a cd and i go out and buy the same cd and it is stolen, broken, damaged in some accidental way i dont see anything wrong with my friend burning the cd for me.


A Typical Teen’s Answer:

Don’t think that much. I think God has more important things to do then worry if you downloaded music that you already bought once.

Music should be free. That record companys should be thankful that we want to listen to their music. :shrug:

Limewire is basicly “sharing” your music with other people. God likes sharing.

If I bought the cd, I should be able to give it away if I want. It is mine, after-all.


I recall the days when we bought lp’s (records), what the youth today call vinyl. The problem with vinyl was it was easily scratched or would warp and melt. So according to your attitude then after having purchased my record at the music store and after enjoying it for some time if for any reason it was scratched, warped, melted, lost or stolen I had every right to steal another since I had already paid for the original?

It’s still theft. It is common knowledge that downloading music off the internet without reimbursement to the artist/producers is punishable by law as theft - the word is piracy. Piracy or Theft is a sin.

According to the court’s ruling in The Recording Industry Association of America v. Verizon Internet Services, entertainment companies the right to get an individual’s name, address and phone number if they have evidence he or she is using the Internet to get or pass on their copyrighted works. They can then use this information to pursue legal action against those who download or upload the illegally obtained music files.

Stealing music is against the law. For centuries, civilized societies have granted artists, authors and other creative people the right to own and control the original work they produce, be it paintings, poems, songs or any other form of literary or artistic expression. In the United States, copyright protection is guaranteed under the Constitution as well as the Copyright Act. Recorded music is specifically protected by these laws, which means it is against the law to make unauthorized reproductions, distributions or digital transmissions of copyrighted sound recordings. The penalties for breaking these laws are stiff, particularly when digital recordings are involved. Criminal penalties for first-time offenders can be as high as five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Civil penalties can run into many thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees. The minimum penalty is $750 per song.

you might want to read the entire article:

and especially this one about a disabled woman who was falsely accused:

After taking on the Internet businesses that made it easy to copy music for free and mounting an education campaign, the industry was still losing lots of money, Lamy said.

“Despite all these efforts, there was still not a sense of risk by the individual person downloading music online,” he said.

So the industry started taking legal action against individual computer users it accuses of illegally downloading music – 21,000 people since


So according to your attitude then after having purchased my record at the music store and after enjoying it for some time if for any reason it was scratched, warped, melted, lost or stolen I had every right to steal another since I had already paid for the original?

no not steal, a friend burns it to help me out, or a stranger lets me load it to help me out. Not theft,that would be taking it from a store or someone without thier permission so theywould lose money. I have every right to burn a cd to protect myslf from the above listed actions, whats the differance if my friend burns it instead of me after the damage has been done? nothing, no money was lost to the artist since i bought the cd in the first place.


very much agreed! now a question only for those who call it stealing. what about stuff that is out of print? what if the short version is in print but I download the out of print long version? because of the amount of my library that is out of print, if ascap or bmi come after me in court, I will make it a 3 ring circus. there is no way possible I know other than internet downloading I know of to get the radio long version of make me smile by chicago, it isnt even on the album “chicago 2”. if bmi and ascap want to be air tight in being able to win at court cases involving music down loads, everything is going to have to be put back in print and easily accessable to everyone. sue me for downloading the wlav grand rapids river raft race song, yeah right!


According to the articles I posted above the record industry can obtian your personal info from IPS providers. They probably have search engines looking for key words involving pirated music. So it’s possible that just posting your intentions on the internet could bring about a lawsuit where instead of paying 99 cents per song you could be fined $750 per song and possibly face a 5 year jail term to say nothing of the legal fees involved.

I’d say that’s a good enough reason.


When the RIAA sues people, it doesn’t sue the downloaders, it sues the people wrongfully distributing copyrighted works.

I’ve yet to see any one refer me to a law preventing a person from downloading music. I’ve yet to see a lawsuit waged against a person who downloaded, but did not distribute, copyrighted music.

There are certainly moral issues involved: the artist and all those involved deserve to be paid for their work; but legally, I don’t think there’s any crime that someone downloading music can be charged with, or any civil statute violated by downloading music.

Morally, if you’ve paid for the music via the CDs and they were stolen, then I would say you have a moral right to listen to the music, and are under no obligation to further compensate the producers of the music if you choose to download the songs that were stolen.

Copyright covers distribution and public performance, not actual use. I can listen to music I didn’t purchase without breaking the law, just as I can read books I didn’t purchase without breaking the law. Despite the propoganda, I’ve yet to see anyone produce an instance of a music downloader sued or convicted of a crime.


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