Pirated videos

Hi everyone!

My boyfriend is a Marine officer, currently deployed in Afghanistan. We are both very devout Catholics and strive to follow the teachings of the Church. His platoon recently received a shipment of “bootleg” videos, including the new Batman that is still in theaters. Here’s our question: What exactly is the right thing to do in this situation? We know that it is illegal and sinful to buy these bootleg videos, but they did not pay for these movies, they were a gift from someone so the guys could have some entertainment during their downtime over there. If he walks in on his buddies watching one of these movies and joins them, is that considered a sin?

Any advice, or a helpful website where I can read more would be very appreciated.

In Christ.

I can’t imagine it being a sin. He didn’t endorse the purchasing of bootlegs in anyway.

Yes he is. he is effectively stealing it. someone put a lot of money into making this movie. bootlegging these copies is taking money out of these people pockets. if he watches it, he should be put in jail.

It is certainly a Sin. It is a clear breach of copyright, so it is certainly stealing.

Legally, It is a breach of Copyright to actually hold illegal copies of films, and it is also a breach of copyright to be an audience member too but the legal proceedings would mostly be brought against the “holder” and the original pirate. It is a hard law to be enforced against the Viewers(or downloaders) themselves so legal bodies quite often wont bother with prosecuting viewers(Or downloaders), for example, Napster was the major target of the music industry and not in any major way the actual users of the program. The reasoning for this is the same as why they focus on illegal Drug Trafficers and Drug growers/manufacturers rather than the end users.

I would submit however that if he did not conciously know it was illegal when he saw it, it would not have been a sin to watch. However he seems to have known.

His platoon recieved them, he didn’t actually go out and buy them. He had no control over the shipment. He’s not endorsing the buying of pirates in anyway.

:thumbsup: it’s ok.

This is probally minor and not important.

I don’t see downloading music and watching pirated videos as being sinful. People should make art for the sake of making art and not just to make a buck. Who cares if hollywood goes out of business? It’s not like hollywood shows america good moral values with movies like saw and hostile. It seems like I have to pay the social costs of an immoral media, so why should I care if the studios don’t make a buck everytime I watch their films?

It is sinful because they own the work and only they are allowed to decide on the distribution of it, weather free or for pay. /For some people the money they recieve from their art is what they make survive off.

I think Hollywood has marketed its’ anti-piracy campaign rather well. Most good people are convinced that anyone who even hints at infringing someone’s copyright (no matter how remotely one’s participation might be) is both a criminal worthy of incarceration and sinner worthy of something worse.

I’m not sure why this issue engenders such passion on both sides. I think we often approach this issue with our minds already made up and thus the discussion always seems to deteriorate into “Yes, it’s obviously sinful” and “No, it’s obviously not sinful.” Now, I’m not fluent enough in moral theology to really speak to this situation as well as I would like, but I would be interested in seeing some carefully thought out appraisals of situations like these rather than the knee-jerk responses that seem far too common.

Yes, pirating movies is wrong, but I would hesitate before branding anyone who watches said pirated movie as both a sinner and a criminal. In your husband’s situation, it’s not as though he’s going to go down to the local theater in Afghanistan to watch the new Batman movie. And, chances are, it will be out of the theater by the time he gets back. Thus the whole “stealing money from the movie industry” argument doesn’t make much sense in this scenario. Not to say that this is proof that it definitely is not sinful to watch the movie. Only that it’s a poor argument in favor of it being sinful.

Here’s an analogous situation that might shed some light on the situation. If someone hands you a xeroxed copy of written copyrighted materials, are you duty-bound to not read it? Would it be sinful for you to read the words, even if you were to only read through it once and destroy it immediately after? Would it be sinful to read one paragraph? What if you walked in on a group of people reading it out loud? Would you be obligated to leave the room immediately? To make known your disapproval?

I don’t really have an answer for you. I just don’t think this situation is necessarily clear cut. Certainly we want to avoid sin, but we don’t want to be scrupulous, either.

A bit over the top, maybe? Should we shoot him as well? Or how about we stab him then shoot him? Ever heard of venial sin? Not all sin is grave just as not all laws are worthy of jail. The offense is not that serious.

Having in your possession bootlegged movies is unlawful. Where it gets gray is when you actually watching someone else’s movie; as in the example of the OP situation.

I’ve always wondered about this very thing. There are some web sites that offer the viewer to see movies. These web sites even advertise on place like U-Tube. I’ve reported one of these sites to the government, but they are still up and running. If this is so illegal, why don’t they crack down on it? I’ve provided them the web site; they can view the contents themselves, yet its been at least 18 months since I reported. Something doesn’t make sense.

I would agree too here actually. Technically he could be fined, but the Police(Or FBI in your case) are a Human organisation with much burocracy and they cannot fully enforce the law of the land, despite being obliged to. It would be totally impossible and inplausable.

Also you have to send the information to the right department(In your case I would say the FBI? yes?) and even to the right department/person(the FBI’s “Computer” or “Internet department”).

Often it is unspoken policy to “flag” the reported site but not yet actually go after them legally until there is soo many reports that it becomes a high Priority(so I would expect your report, while viewed and certainly considered, may have simply been filed and prioritized behind other reports of inappropriate web sites).

Clearly the reason they give is totally valid, which is of cause that “we don’t have the time or money to investigate it, there’s other more reported and more offensive/illegal sites which we are going after with our resources right now”. I mean can you imagine how many reports they actually recieve every single day? must be in the thousands! and every one has to be counted! let alone considered!

They oft don’t crack down on it, simply because as a Human organisation they have to prioritise and focus on bigger targets because they have limited time, manpower, budget and other resources.

I mean it is actually illegal to litter in my State, but it would be a waist of important resources if the police actually decided to fully enforce the law themselves(They actually get us to do it with their “Report a litterer” advertising campaigns! but who really bothers with that?)!

Thanks for all the replies! I’m not really concerned about the “human law” part of it. Everyone knows that it’s illegal to bootleg movies, music, etc. That said, we as Christians are obliged to follow the “human laws” set forth, whether we agree with them or not…part of obedience. Of course there are exceptions, but I will not go into that. And yes we should not be scrupulous…it’s not a sin to accidentally go 75 mph in the 65 mph zone if traffic is going that fast too because it could be dangerous to go slower. But I think this might be a matter of setting a good Christian example by not condoning certain actions, such as watching illegal copies of movies. For example, if I see someone drop $10 and they keep walking because they don’t realize it, I can pick it up and do one of two things. I can get their attention, and return it. Or, I could put it in my pocket and go on my merry way, $10 richer, without them knowing what just happened. Any bystander watching would see dishonesty in my action if I kept the money, but they would see a Christian example of honesty if I tried to give the money back. Whether the person takes the money back or not is up to them. It’s not a sin to pick up $10 off the sidewalk, just like it’s not a sin to watch a movie. However, keeping the $10 w/o trying to give it back is dishonest, just as watching an illegal copy of a movie is dishonest. For someone trying to set a good Christian example, someone that knows the movie is illegal will see that this “Christian” is condoning it by watching, and could be wrongly led to believe that it’s ok to obtain bootleg videos.

Does this make sense?

Yes. You are speaking of what St Paul wrote in the Scriptures. I don’t have the actual quote but it is something like, “Don’t eat the meat that was sacrificed to idols.” Not because eating the meat is sinful, but because you are a witness to the Gospel and one shouldn’t participate in idol worship by eating the meat. You are giving a bad example.

On a side note, do you find it ironic the same people who witness to your example of returning the $10 bill will call you foolish, but if you pocket it, and they know you’re a Christian, they will call you a hypocrite.

Part of the reason some websites get away with it is that they operate out of other countries where the copyright laws are different.

I think that makes sense. Certainly, it is a good opportunity for your husband to witness to his faith.

Are you saying you want all artists to make even less money? :eek:

Pray that your boyfriend has the grace to be a witness for his faith - by watching the movie knowing that it is illegal, he commits a sin.

For the same reason, watchout for YouTube - lots of illegal stuff up there.

God bless.

A follow-up question regarding this. If I downloaded a copyrighted movie in Switzerland where
“Swiss Government Declares Downloading for Personal Use Legal”, is it still a sin?

For me, i think it’s ok to download already, because nobody can charge me that I am in debt unlike if I do it in other countries with strict copyright rules.

Please tell me your views.

Welcome to CAF! :wave:

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