Morally Okay to watch Online Episodes if there is nowhere else?

Is it morally acceptable to watch online episodes of a series if you cannot view it on Television and it’s for non for profit and pure entertainment?

If the copyright holder explicitly allows you to watch online, then obviously it is moral. The BBC iPlayer service shows a lot of its programmes online, for example. Otherwise:

If you have paid for the right to watch it - such as if you have bought a DVD you don’t happen to have with you, or if you have paid a subscription to cable or satellite but are away from home - then it is debatable. It may be argued that you are supporting piracy by doing so, for example, and so are encouraging those who simply don’t want to pay.

If you are using not having a TV as an excuse to watch what would normally be paid entertainment for free, then I don’t see how you justify that as anything other than theft.

I have paid cable in my country which is all that is available with the show that was previously aired. I would say it would be alright as I am only watching it online as it cannot be found anywhere on Australian television.

So you have not paid for these episodes, the ones you want to watch? And you would be downloading them from a site that does not have the copyright holder’s consent?

If so, I don’t see how you can possibly think this is moral. Sorry.

Just my opinion of course. As you are catholic and presumably off to church this weekend, asking the priest would seem to be the obvious course.

Actually, the more I think about this the less defensible it seems, especially from (my understanding of) the catholic point of view.

Even if you have paid for the episodes (e.g. you bought the boxed set but left it behind) by downloading episodes from a site that does not have the copyright holders’ consent you are cooperating with the undeniably immoral action of that site in making and distributing copies of copyrighted work without permission from or remuneration to the copyright holder.

So while a good lawyer might argue that it is not illegal if you have paid for the episodes, I increasingly doubt that your priest would buy that argument as far as sinfulness goes.

I just found the production site to the show that has all the episodes and has purchased rights to put the episodes up. No need to worry now, it’s officially sanctioned and should be okay.

“Watch online” is ambiguous. If it’s through the station’s or provider’s network or feed (their website, Roku, Apple, Amazon, etc.) then it’s fine. If you mean downloading it via bittorrent or via some website that doesn’t have replay rights, then no.

Here’s an analogy, although a very bad one. Imagine you have a membership to a wholesale store like Costco. Now imagine that you need a particular item but the store is closed. You can’t break into the store and take your item even if you leave cash for it on the table. You can’t say, “hey, I paid for the membership and the item and there was no other way for me to get it!” You have to abide to the limitations of the membership. Same with TV providers. If they don’t make something available over a particular medium, that doesn’t entitle you to find the episode by any means necessary.

Obviously not relevant in this case, but in many moral systems you can do as you describe if it is a genuine need (e.g. a life or death situation) - or even take the goods with the intention to repay the owner later on.

I do not actually want to download anything, just watch it on line. I talked to a parishioner and he believes that it is al-right as it would be playing on my paid cable if it was still on, it is an old show that was on originally in 2005 but is not on now as it was taken off.

If you’re not sure if it is legal or not, you can always try to ask the company directly (I am not sure who would be responsible, the TV channel or the company who makes the series?)

I did that once when I wasn’t sure if it was ok to watch a TV program online. I found the e-mail and mailed them to ask. In my case it was perfectly legal. I think if you’re not sure, try to find the e-mail or phone numer of the responsible party and ask. :slight_smile:

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