Is it a sin to watch music videos on Youtube that infringe copyright

How do you know they infringe on a copyright? Isn’t youtube supposed to take down videos that infringe on copyright and don’t they have deals with some people to pay royalties? You go to youtube in good faith that they’re doing their due diligence weeding out videos they cannot legally broadcast. They’ve been sued several times on this issue and they now take down videos that infringe on copyright. So maybe you can assume that the ones that are left are ok to watch. Maybe this is a technicality, but do you know copyright law well enough to know whether youtube cannot play the video you see?

But if it bothers you and you have doubts about their legality, then don’t watch them.

I’d be more worried about the contents of the videos. Copyright infringement is a complex issue best dealt with by lawyers earning 500$/hour. Torrents are another issue: nobody’s making a buck but people get stuff for free that they would have to pay for otherwise. I assume it’s tantamount to stealing but I would have sworn 2 short years ago that self-defense was not allowed in the CC, meaning I’ve assumed wrongly in the past. We’re definitely in a grey area here.


I watch copyrighted videos all the time, and I don’t think it’s a sin. It might be a crime, though not in my country.

It’d be pretty funny if I was stopped at the pearly gates and an angel said “Sorry, you watched pokemon on youtube; you can’t enter now…” :stuck_out_tongue:

If you aren’t making money from it, then I don’t think so.

Watching something you are supposed to pay for to watch and knowingly doing so without paying is stealing. It doesn’t matter if you are making money from it or not. It is stealing. It doesn’t matter if youtube has taken responsiblity for removing copyrighted material or not. If you knowingly watch something which you are supposed to pay for, you are stealing.

And I don’t think anyone will be laughing when you are stopped at the pearly gates for it.


Ah but Tim, you’re missing the point of many of our arguments. How do you know that something posted on youtube that hasn’t been filtered out is something you’re supposed to pay for? Maybe a music video on youtube was posted by the band for promotional reasons or maybe they worked out a royalty agreement with youtube (technically Google). Some things are slam dunks when it comes to copyright infringement. If a full-length, feature movie is posted on youtube then it’s reasonable to assume that is infringing on someone’s copyright. But some things are a bit murkier and as Robertanthony points out, is best left to the army of $500/hour lawyers Google employs to make sure it is right with the law.

You visit youtube in good faith expecting them to be on the right side of law. It’s like if you go to a major electronics store and some bad employee is trying to sell stolen goods. How are you, the innocent consumer, supposed to know the legit merchandise from the bad?

So the sin depends on how knowledgable you are on copyright issues.

People are going to burn in Hell for all of eternity as enemies of God for watching a copyrighted vid on youtube…I don’t think so!

Even if a sin is not moral (see my previous comment on my thoughts when it comes to videos on youtube), it can still be a venial sin. And we should try to avoid all sins, both mortal and venial, because they upset our relationship with God.

By analogy, suppose you’re married. There are a lof stupid things you can do that will end you up temporarily in “the dog house” (staying out late, saying something insensitive, etc.) But then there are things you can do which really destroy the marriage (infidelity, abuse, etc.) So just because you don’t do something really destructive does not make the other, lesser offenses ok. If you want a happy marriage you will try to avoid both types of behaviors.

So just because you may not “burn in Hell for all of eternity as enemies of God,” does not make certain sins permissible. If anything, those lesser sins are setting you up to commit mortal sins in the future by letting evil influences creep in.

don’t be so sure of this. Someone who is dishonest in small things, could move on being dishonest in larger matters.

In general, I’ve noticed youtube makes a really good effort to remove all infringing videos from the site, so youtube is a safer place to watch videos than other sites if you are worried about burning in hell.:confused:

I have also worried about this. To be honest if you are worried about it search the artist you want and then “vevo” at the end. Vevo is completely legal because the artists agree to let them put it up. You may just have to watch a small 10 second ad every 20 videos you watch. Just to create a vocal point here i think that watching other content (movies, music videos, tv shows and what not) are youtube or elsewhere (besides the website of the said content) would likely be immoral.

I think that it is wrong to watch copywrighted videos on youtube. If the person doesn’t have rights to the content then it is stealing.

A way to tell if the user has rights or not is check the username. A username such as “Yankeesfan48” probably doesn’t own the rights to the Yankees baseball games. But, if the name is Universal Records and it has company information, a subscription option, and a commercial before the video, then the user probably has rights to the music video etc. Use good judgment is what I think.

It’s murky, but we don’t want to be dishonest.

Your description of how to tell if a user has rights or not is nonsense.
Anyone going into youtube should automatically assume everything may be watched. It is not up to us to research to check if something is copyrighted or not. Its watchable unless there is a big notice saying you cannot watch it.

My personal opinion is that there is a difference between watching fan-created content and watching the source material itself. Since you said music videos, I’m guessing we’re talking fan-edited videos. I don’t think that’s a sin, since you’re not taking any potential money from the creators. A three-minute music video is in no way a substitute for watching a series, and it’s something that the creators would never have made in the first place. Generally such videos are making a statement about the show, too, so they might count as commentary of some kind. I’d be more concerned about the music these videos use, as that’s used in its entirety and probably isn’t covered under any kind copyright exception.

If you mean watching a full series on youtube posted user1234, that’s almost certainly illegal and is akin to theft, especially if the series is still available and should be making money for the creators. Sure, I don’t technically know that the creators of digimon didn’t give user1234 permission to air their series for free when people can watch it on Netflix by paying money for a service, but it seems awfully unlikely.

If it is fan-created or a clip pulled from a tv broadcast it may fall under fair use. Many things on YouTube are like this. Fans singing covers of a song or making a music video with pictures of the singer can be good examples. However, If you are watching a whole movie that you could just get on DVD then you are stealing.

youtube doesn’t have to do anything. They don’t have to monitor anything. It’s all written down in the lousy, unlawful “Safe Harbor” law. IN essence, that ‘safe harbor’ means that youtube can say, “Oh my gosh! We didn’t know that copyrighted video was on youtube but now that we do, we’ll take it down.” And if anybody tries to sue them, and they have been sued, safe harbor means the judge says “case dismissed.”

YOU, the copyright owner, get to do youtube’s job, thanks to safe harbor, You, not them, get to monitor youtube for all the sneaky violations. In other words, parts of movies or music videos that get put up by


are your responsibility.

We send out take-down notices daily. It doesn’t matter if bob)08 puts it back up a week later, we send another takedown notice.

So, talk to your priest about this. But I can say with some certainty that if the music video was not put up by EMImusic, but elec999smoot8, it’s safe to assume it’s illegal and wrong.


I will not try to rationalize myself to a sin free youtube explanation…but it will try.

  1. Depends on your intent. There is no way of knowing if the video your watching is illegal or not illegal. Period. And it’s not your responsibility.

  2. The digital age has really muddied the waters when dealing with the issue of sin.

For example, I could be a book a couple of decades ago and return it the next day if my friend said borrow mine. No problem.

But a video game I can’t. Once the package is open you own it, garbage.

Now most games are digitally downloaded so I can’t even let my friends borrow it once I complete. Garbage.

  1. The issue of torrents. There not all bad. For example, what if you just want to watch a show that was on TV and you already pay for it but miss the time slot. Instead you download via a torrent and watch it anyway. Not prudent, but since you paid for it, not a sin.

  2. Another problem I have is the delicate nature of blu rays. 30 dollars for a blu ray and it can be ruined by having your seven your old touch it with peanut butter hands .if it was a book no biggie just wipe the peanut butter off and your on your way. But blu ray, can’t return it and you have to spend 30 bucks on a new one. Garbage policy.

To me the big key is can you honestly say that you already in some capacity pay for it and did not knowingly watch it even though there are copy right issues,

It’s going to get worse as every thing is trending toward streaming or better if the decision makers use a fair policy dealing with storage of videos into your library.

This thread has been resurrected from the dead. O_O

Do you know how many videos and movies are illegally available for free on Youtube? Believe me, though, I agree that, ideally, we should be able to go to Youtube and assume that all the proper permissions were asked for, but that definitely doesn’t happen. One can tell because of the sheer number of videos that get taken down because of copyright infringement, and I don’t expect it to stop anytime soon. I think it is pretty easy to notice the infringers, though, as writer42 pointed out, but of course, that’s not always the case.

I concur. :thumbsup: Unless it’s a fan-made music video (which makes a difference) with different clips and such, then there’s a good chance it falls under fair use. If anyone is interested in better knowing whether a video falls under fair use, please read this:

I make no response to the legality of the question (though the chances that law enforcement or a copyright holder come down on a non-uploading consumer seem very slim).

As to the morality, it depends on the circumstances. It certainly CAN be theft, if the author’s/owner’s will was violated. It is NOT theft if the author doesn’t care to protect against downloading. How to discern author’s/owner’s will? Circumstantial evidence and common sense. Assuming no more solid evidence to the contrary, my personal safe harbor moral rule of thumb for third-party postings is that the owner likely didn’t care about the upload, if the video has been available for over a year.

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