Is it a sin to watch copyrighted television shows and movies on Youtube?

In this case, the theft is de-facto - i.e. the royalties or profits rightfully due to the owner of the goods, in this case music or videos that are only legitimately available commercially.

It’s the same reason I’m not allowed to borrow someone else’s book and then photocopy all of its pages and then give the original book back. Notwithstanding the cost to me of the actual photocopying, the author of that book does not receive the royalties due to them for the additional copy of that book that now exists.


You keep using the word “steal.” The legal definition of “theft” requires that something be taken from or deprived from another. If a person watches a show or movie that has aired, then how can it be maintained that a person “stole” the show when it has already been put out in the airwaves and has been seen by masses? What you keep referring to is a possible violation of copyright laws. It is not the same as “theft” in the legal sense of the word.

:slight_smile: I think it is interesting that the court ruled that people have the right to buy or sell copyrighted items in ways not desired by the copyright holder. It certainly seems (to me, at least) to illustrate that a “grey area” does indeed exist when it comes to the subject of digital media and the ability of those who own it to do what they will. Continuous use of the word or accusation that one has “stolen” or that one is a “thief” because they have made a copy of something for someone is legally unsupported.

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Are royalties based on the sale of goods or upon the individual viewing/listening? :confused:

Not allowed by who? When I was in college, people were constantly using the library supplied copy machines to make copies from the books in the stacks. I used to make copies of sheet music to play on the piano! Not only did the library have copy machines, it also had change machines for convenience. I once copied an entire coin guidebook on the copy machine at a public library! No one told me that I couldn’t. You say that we are not “allowed.” Then why does law enforcement not do something about it?

That’s funny. I used to get phone calls from different Kinko’s around the country. It went like this: “Hello, This is Bob from Kinko’s in San Antonio, Texas. I have a customer here who wants make a copy of one of your books.” My answer was always: NO.


Tell that to the FBI.

And that court ruling has just been challenged by book publishers today.


Libary books are already sold books, thus, copyable. This has not be allowed in bookstores.

I’m sorry but I find that very hard to believe. It would be akin to buying a pack of blank dvds at the local Office Depot and the cashier first asking if they are going to be used to make copies of movies or music cds. I just can’t imagine any place of business doing that.

What if the guy said, “Hello, this is Bob from Kinkos. I have a customer here who wants to copy a couple of pages from your book.” What would your answer be?

I think you will run afoul of our friend Ed!

This was a Supreme Court ruling; there is no appeal.


For too many years that I care to count, customers of my bookstore would ask, “Hi! Can you copy some pages from this [brand new] book?” My answer was always: NO. And sometimes I would add; If you created something to sell, from which you wanted to make a living, and I asked you to just give it to me for free, would you?"

You can ignore my statements if you want. I just read the article. The Supreme Court can rule as it wants. The fact is that publishers can and are opening a new case.


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Ed, I may not be an expert on law but I know that a Supreme Court decision is final unless a time comes when the court wants to revisit a previous decision. If you don’t mind, do you have a link or something to this new case that is somehow going to change the court’s ruling? What do you mean by “opening a new case?”

That’s quite a bit different than copying a book that you own, isn’t it?

That’d be because TV stations and cinemas that air them pay for the right to broadcast them. So the creators and owners get royalties out of a TV broadcast or cinema showing. Random YouTube uploaders don’t pay, the creators and owners get cheated of those royalties.

When I was at college all the library photocopiers had notices on the walls next to them setting out what copyright law permits in my jurisdiction - I think it was up to 10% of a book could be copies for purposes of academic research or some such.

I would hazard a guess that students rarely, for example, widely distribute whole photocopied books among friends or anything, not to mention most academic texts don’t have a wide readership or make stacks of dough for companies or authors. So it is small fry compared to illegally downloading or copying music or movies.

But what tangible object is being stolen that makes the owners get cheated of royalties? Theft requires that something be taken from or deprived from its rightful owner. How is someone who is watching a show that has already aired stealing? What has been taken or deprived? :confused:

So, copying 10% of a book is ok but copying 12% or 15% is stealing?

Honestly, I’m not trying to be obtuse; I just find it hard to understand the ethics involved in all of this. As a previous poster has already stated, this new digital medium has created a grey area in regards to copying/downloading/sharing etc., etc.

(Personally, I think the fact that it comes down to the all-mighty dollar highlights the problems we see in society today.)

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But what tangible object is being stolen that makes the owners get cheated of royalties? Theft requires that something be taken from or deprived from its rightful owner. How is someone who is watching a show that has already aired stealing? What has been taken or deprived? :confused:

It doesn’t have to be a tangible property. There are intangible properties - or at least rights analogous to property rights - too. I have a right to my good name, which may not be unlawfully slandered or defamed by anyone. I can seek compensation from anyone who unlawfullu damages my character or reputation. I have a right to privacy such that my medical records or communications with my lawyer may not - with very limited exceptions - be made public.

Some are associated with ownership of a tangible property. If I own a house, I also own the associated right to determine who may enter my house (with very limited exceptions). The mere fact of being in someone’s house without their (at least implied) permission or legal authorisation is in and of itself a crime - trespass. it is a crime regardless of whether anyone happens to physically damage or disturb anything of mine while trespassing on my property.

If I own a movie - it is actually called owning the ‘movie rights’. And one of those rights, similar to my right to restrict who may enter my house, is my right to restrict who may broadcast my movie. And to receive royalties for the privilege every time someone broadcasts it. Just like an art gallery owner has a right to charge entry fees every time someone wants to view the art contained in their gallery, and randoms do not have the right to sneak in for a free peek.

Maybe stealing is not the right word but inis certainly infringing someone’s rights.

The percentage is kind of a compromise between the interests of the author and others who make money from sales of the book and the legitimate needs of students and academics to have at least some free access to it. Of course there is a certain amount of arbitrariness to drawing that line, which is where the grey comes in

Kinda like taking a loaf of bread to feed your starving family is OK but taking a million dollars would not be. The legitimate rights of starving people and property owners have to be balanced out. But there would be hard to reach a consensus as to what exact value of money or property would be OK for a starving person to take.

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