Piracy: did I commit it, if the content wasn't illegally posted?

Hi there.

I need some advice on whether or not I’ve committed a sin.

I entered a Halloween song writing contest two years ago. I used sounds which could be purchased and therefore licensed for use, but I didn’t pay for said sounds. Buuuuut there’s more to it than just that.

I found the sounds on an old version of sounddogs .com: it was their retired site, IIRC. The designers of the website allowed for low-resolution previews of the sounds (which they still do on their new site), but they overlooked(?) the fact that one could still download those low resolution sounds and be perfectly happy with them. Which I was.

Only in recent years have I really dwelt and let the impact of my decisions sink in and make me question my actions: had I won the contest, I would’ve gotten some gain from it. I know that any ill-gotten gain is inherently wrong, but I’m not sure whether I was sinning or not, if what I was doing was even piracy. I can admit to exploitation of a faulty system, but at the time I wasn’t thinking of how morally risky my actions could be.

I know piracy is flat out wrong in every situation: just because someone illegally puts something up for redistribution doesn’t mean it’s okay to copy, just because it’s there… in my case, everything was legally put there. But I’d really appreciate some second thoughts here. I’m leaning towards “yes, I’ve sinned, and I need to legally buy the sounds I used,” but I don’t know.

I’m good about getting myself into hairy moral situations. Please help if you have time, and pray for me.

God Bless and Mary Keep,

Please discuss this with your priest in confession. This place is not the place to determine the guilt or severity of a sin.

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When you take a free sample of anything you are not obliged to buy.

If the site lets you download their own product for free (ie. it’s not a pirate site) then the item is yours to use in any way you want, for as long as you want.

It seems to me the low resolution sounds were in that category. This is common practice - to make a restricted product freely available in hope that a percentage of users will purchase the full product. Just because they hope you buy the full product doesn’t mean you are in any way obliged to, or obliged to not use the free sample as much as you want.

It’s very easy to sin. This may not be grave matter, however.

Just let it go and resolve to be more ethical in future endeavors involving technology :slight_smile:

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