Personal Use of Copyrighted Images

Question. I’ve learned that the Church teaches that one should respect the law and to break a law willingly is a sin as long as the law itself is not against one’s conscience, law, divine, law and what is moral etc.
So to willingly use illegal substances is seen as a sin in regard to law. Software piracy is also a sin, as it is against the law and is seen as a form of stealing.

Now here is my question.
There is a TV Show A. Tom loves this show and draws fanart of the show. He posts this on his blog to share his art. However any drawings of copyrighted characters from the show technically makes it illegal even if there is no profit etc.

Now Bob also loves this show very much. And so, he goes to Google Images and finds this fanart picture. He sets it as his wallpaper. I assume to use an illegal picture as a wallpaper (and being in possession of a virtual copy) is illegal. In this case, has this person committed a sin?

Also the show has also led to the creation of fan-music and remixes. I love the music, and this person sells music for a dollar per song etc. I buy the songs from the user. Is this a sin as well? In this case I feel as though it’s a very grey area, as some music is only related to the show from claim of inspiration from the composer (such as orchestral music).
Or how about in the case of remixes using samples from the show. Technically it’s illegal, but there have been a case where the composer from the show itself has worked on a song with one of the fans. Even the people working on the show support and love the fan-made content in the community. Even so, from a standpoint of law, it is illegal I assume?

So my question is in regards to…

  1. fanmade art for wallpapers
  2. fanmade music and remixes which is bought or is for free from the community.

Are they sins to download fanmade art and music?

If someone draws their view of cartoon character or any character it is not a violation of copyright. It is only a violation if they make an exact copy of the character made by the copyright holder. If a show or staff participate in making videos regarding the show or characters that is going to be licensed by the show since the creators and workers are only allowed to participate with the approval of the Employer and/or rights holder. There is also fair use laws that allows others to use short adaptations and display of drawings of copyrighted images and writings.

Copyright law isn’t as black and white as you think. Copyright is about protecting people’s expression. It incentivizes them to make something creative because they know they will be able to sell it.

Every time you record something on DVR you are violating someone’s copyright. HOWEVER, Fair use of copyrighted material is protected and perfectly legal. It’s a defense under the law that allows you to violate someone’s copyright. It goes hand in hand with the First Amendment. If we let people protect too much under copyright, it can restrict the free speech of someone else. Fan art can often be fair use. Unfortunately, the thing with copyright law is you never know if it is fair use until the court says so! So, you just kind of have to make a judgment call if it is fair use or not. If the copyright holder does not think it is fair use, they will sue you. Then the court decides if it is fair use.

Also, copyright law is not a self enforcing crime. Many times copyright holders will not sue about fan art because they think it promotes their product. Basically, if the copyright holder does not mind if it’s copied, the law says it’s ok. It’s the same thing as trespassing. If you step foot on property I own without my permission, you have trespassed. If you are a Fedex driver dropping off a package, I’m probably ok with it. :slight_smile:

JMR

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