Piracy and after the fact compensation


Some months ago I downloaded a “pirated” set of a television season that I could simply not find through licit channels, but I knew it was going to be available on iTunes a few months down the road and thus fully intended to purchase the season at that time. I have now done so and replaced the “pirated” copies with the purchased copies. As those entitled to profits (producers, actors, etc.) have now received their due, is this still a morally questionable practice?


I would call it morally questionable. It’s like sneaking into the movie theater, justifying it by saying that a week later you’re going to buy a ticket and see it with your friend anyway, and it’s not like it’s costing them anything extra for you to watch it the extra time. I’m sure we’d all agree you still can’t do it. Additionally a lot of these sites that provide illegal access to pirated content make money off hits from advertising or more nefarious means (adware, spyware, malware). So even if you compensated the original owner or producer, you still might be encouraging the people who are pirating the content. Grave matter? Probably not, but I’m not the most qualified to say, and we still need to be mindful of venial sin.

[SIGN]Viva Jesus![/SIGN]


I can’t see how it could be grave matter as no one is harmed. I actually think it is completely different than your cinema example. In the case of the cinema you are required to pay PER viewing. In the case of purchasing the digital rights to a season of television, you are entitled to unlimited viewing. It also isn’t illegal in my jurisdiction to receive pirated television content - it is simply illegal to distribute it. So I suppose the potential issue is enabling those distributing it.


I understand your general point and agree with it… though I think it is significantly different than sneaking into a movie theater for two reasons: 1) I truly wanted to compensate the producers from the get go but they provide no means for me to do so at the time 2) With a cinema one is paying for a single viewing, while with digital content one pays for unlimited viewings…in the case of the cinema you are indeed cheating the cinema of their rightful profits for that first viewing.
Now that I have purchased the digital content, as soon as it became available, I can download it to various devices and view it infinite times.


If this was such a big deal as it it is being touted, the people who release this entertainment would most definitely take precautions to ensure it does not happen, example would be the old cassette tapes, and CDs, they had built in security measures, making it impossible for anyone to ‘steal’ the content.

Another example would be the old VHS movies.

If they are so concerned about piracy, why do they keep releasing this type of entertainment in formats making it possible?


My thoughts are this: 1) yes it is wrong and 2) if you have to ask, then you probably already know the answer.

A pirated season was surely available someplace for a price wasn’t it? If not, why not wait? I often see movie trailers and can’t wait for them to be released. However, I do wait and therefore you could have too:D


That is like blaming the gun manufacturers if you kill someone…they made the guns available, so why do they keep making them?


Frankly the problem’s too big for the big studios to do more than they’re already doing, sites are constantly shut down only for new ones to pop up as soon as the domains can be registered…Game of Thrones might prosecute some of the people who downloaded the four episodes that leaked early online this year, IIRC they were able to obtain some 10,000 IP addresses. We’ll see if anything comes of it. Piracy does actually help increase sales for the majority of artists…this is why a lot of artists purposely keep some, or all, of their content free for viewing. It makes the biggest negative impact on the top tier artists – the big names – who don’t have much to gain from giving away their product since they’re already very popular and need to sell high numbers to make up for the money the studios have invested in them and that they have invested in themselves.

It’s irrelevant though whether there’s a positive unintended side effect because we’re talking about someone else’s property and we don’t have the right to make decisions about what others should allow with their property. We don’t have a right to entertainment that someone else produces through the media of our choice within our timeframe.

And then there’s still the issue that when we illegally download something we’re cooperating with evil by downloading from someone who is directly stealing from the producer and profiting off them. After all, there wouldn’t be any point in putting them up for others to download if no one bothered to download them.

[SIGN]Viva Jesus![/SIGN]


So many people actually use this argument though! after a mass shooting or similar incident, its common to see people trying to ban guns, or gun buy backs…?? LOL

Yet with piracy, its the complete opposite…??


It is at the point that they have no choice. If they don’t release the media digitally, people don’t buy. I can’t recall the last time I bought a CD. I will occasionally buy DVDs, but rarely. The vast majority of my tv/movie purchases are online.

I do recall that last year I found out there was a Garth Brooks album I didn’t have. I tried to buy it. I couldn’t. He does not release him media digitally. CD only. I still don’t have that album. If he doesn’t want to make his work easy for me to purchase, then I just won’t purchase it. Studios and record albums know that.


Piracy has to be wrong, but in my opinion the greater immorality is allowing people in the movie industry to make obscene amounts of money, for very little effort. They make more than doctors prime ministers and people with dangerous jobs, like the police.


Perhaps a more apt comparison would be pirating a copy of the newest Avengers movie with the intention of buying it on DVD when it comes out later this year.

Yes, that would be wrong. Sure, from a “end” perspective, things worked out. The media makers got their money and you got your copy of their product. But we can’t just borrow things early without permission. I cannot steal pair of pants from the store and leave and IOU in its place. And I realize this is digital content that does not “disappear” when you take it, but it’s still the same principle.

I think a better approach in these situations is to look at it as an opportunity to grow in patience. :stuck_out_tongue: I really want to watch this. And I could download it and watch it right now. And I know I will buy it eventually. So how about I wait? You know you can’t go wrong with waiting. No moral question marks and you grow in virtue at the same time. Win-win. :slight_smile:


Blame the free market. Popularity is what drives the profits in the entertainment industry. If someone’s popular enough to sell ten million DVDS and some perfume just by slapping their name on it, and people buy it, it is what it is. The A List celebrities have a right to what they have legally earned from what their name is worth, and it just makes good business sense for the entertainment companies to promote their best names and build them into brands. What do you propose be done about it? Price ceilings? Taxation and confiscation? Educate people not to value entertainment so highly? Besides, how much is too much? Mind you I said earlier that I don’t think piracy is particularly harmful (half the time who can tell these days with some of these sites whether the owner’s getting properly compensated?) But just because somebody else makes tons of “easy” money in our eyes doesn’t make piracy licit – and all too often the “they make tons of money” excuse is used to justify the practice. Just like shoplifting from Walmart is justified because big corporations are so wealthy. It might not hurt the victim much but it still hurts the sinner.

[SIGN]Viva Jesus![/SIGN]


Is it immoral to purchase DVD’s, albums or books from a yard sale or a thrift store?

How is that different from watching or downloading a pirated version. In both cases someone purchased a copy of the media and then distributed it in such a was that they make a profit without compensating the original artist/publisher/studio.

Why is it worse to do this online.

What about checking out one of these items from the library? This too deprives the content creator of their profits. What if the OP said he did not want to pay for this series so he waited for it to come out at the library and then checked it out. How is that any different from watching it on a Pirate site?

Your local used CD/Record shop is only different from a pirate bay website in the same way that Amazon is different from your local bookstore. Brick and mortar vs. online only.


No. The purchaser has purchased the the media (DVD, etc) along with the rights to view it privately and can resell the media, which have the viewing rights attached to the media.

Entirely different. If you buy a DVD you own the DVD. Not just the right to view what’s on the DVD in private. When you sell that specific DVD the viewing rights are no longer yours.

For the same reason you can’t buy one DVD and make a thousand copies and sell them for profit. Or you aren’t allowed to buy one DVD and show it to the whole neighborhood for a “movie night.”

The library has paid for (or received via donation etc) a copy of the media. The rights for a copy of the media generally allow for you to loan it to others. Also public libraries have been afforded certain privileges under fair use copyright law. A library still doesn’t have the right to copy and redistribute.

You are entirely incorrect in your assessment here. As I said earlier viewing rights are legally property, once you buy it as attached to a specific media you are allowed to transfer that property that belongs to you. Used books/CDs are legal secondary markets for this property. In contrast, copyright law is quite clear that piracy is considered theft, and it is immoral to break a law that is not unjust. Additionally, theft, the unlawful taking or use of something that doesn’t belong to you, even temporarily or if you don’t see the harm in doing so, is a violation of the seventh commandment. Therefore it is immoral.

[SIGN]Viva Jesus![/SIGN]


James said a lot of what I would say. There is a difference between serial ownership/viewership and mass distribution.

On a personal level, I think the inward disposition is much different, too. I get a lot of DVDs from the library. With that, I am pretty much always on a waiting list, often for months at a time. The delayed gratification is good for me. :slight_smile:


Actually, I’m not sure if resale is technically legal.
In regards to “loaning” your media to someone else, in the digital age where all you buy is a digital copy (as was the case here in my original example where when I did eventually buy the season I simply bought the “rights” to download digital copies at will from “the cloud”), what is the difference between physically loaning a DVD to your friend or making a digital copy for your friend’s consumption? Everyone on this thread has agreed that what I did was wrong, but at least in my case the owners got fully compensated for my viewing… in the case of reselling or lending they get cheated of their profits. Distribution of media is tightly regulated- I don’t know how reselling DVDs fits into that.


I don’t know enough about all the legal cases, but I am fairly certain that reselling DVDs is legal. There are big chain stores that sell used CDs, DVDs, video games, etc. There’s also eBay and Amazon that sell lots of used items like that as well. If it were illegal, I don’t see how such places could operate.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.