Should I Report my Relatives/Others for Violating Copyright?

Hello all. Recently, I found one of my relatives creating a music video for a “joint birthday party” that is coming soon. My relative implied that she gathered all the images from various internet sources (I also inferred that her music may be subject to copyright as well). I reminded her about the legality of copyright violation, but she insisted that “it is only a one time thing” and that not a lot of people are going to view it anyway. I, mostly out of cowardice and slightly out of the belief that I admonished her well enough, decided to leave the issue as it was. I told her that I was not trying to tell her what to do; I was just reminding her. But, this is where my dilemma comes.

I feel that, by just silently letting her go through with this, I am partaking in sin. I feel that I am morally obligated to report her (to whom, I am not sure). I also feel that I may be getting scrupulous again and should just leave it as it is. Should I remind them that it is copyright violation every time I find them doing this?

So, people of Catholic Answers, what is the moral thing to do? Should I report my relative or anyone else who violates copyright to the proper authorities (may someone please tell me the identity of the organization that handles this kind of thing)? Or, was what I did enough and I should just leave it be? I thank you all in advance.


Honestly…reporting a relative for violating a copyright? You’ve got to be kidding.

I think you did that just wonderfully and lovingly. :slight_smile:

Actually, for something like that, I think it’s almost Fair Use, or enough in the grey area anyway. Sort of like making parodies or just enjoying the music together in a private setting. I’m no attorney or moral theologian, but I’d probably not fret about it.

Copyright has been one of my scruple triggers too , and I know some people who do more than what you describe (movie copying for each other) - but I don’t know that I should bring down the Feds on them. I just try to lead by example and encourage the one who has accepted copied movies to buy the originals, pointing out how much nicer that is to have the original case, etc. I think I’ve managed to plant a seed. I’ve noticed less copying going on. The other party involved is seriously ill and cares for an elderly parent - who would suffer if the caregiving child was put in prison. Sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils . . .

The use you describe is not copyright violation.

People can listen to music at a party or pictures on the internet for free, or even have their friend look at them over their shoulder with no violation.

If she was charging money to come to the party to see the video made with that music and image THAT would be violation, because she was violating the creators right to income via the public use of their material to make money.

Copyright violation exists to keep other people from making money off the work of others.

It’s ok to print a quote from a book and put it on your wall or to make a mix CD of music you got lawfully to listen to in your car.

As long as you are not distributing it to make money or to purposely deny the artist money they would make, you are fine.

Since no one is paying to attend the party or buying the video she makes, no violation.

I’m sorry but if you are seriously considering this you are not in a position to admonish anybody for anything. Right now you don’t have the judgement or the discernment. Thinking that you need to admonish people is just feeding into your scrupulosity. It’s definitely spiritually damaging for you and possibly for the other person too.

Scrupous Monk,
I think you do not understand how authority and responsibility work. If someone has authority over someone, then they are partly responsible for that person’s action in the area over which they have responsibility. Some people, like parents of small children, have authority over their childre in almost all areas at all times; other people, like employers, have limited authority and responsibility over people.

So–unless you have a position of responsibility over someone, then you are on a level with most other people except those who have authority over you.

So you are not responsible for other people’s actions except insofar as you have authority over them.

Now, there is the question of fraternal correction, which is important to do if you are sure a serious sin is being committed or contemplated, and you have a good expectation that what you say will be taken well.

There are some legal obligations to report serious crimes, and there is some moral obligation, for instance if your reporting woukd stop a bad thing from happening, but for less serious crimes, there is no obligation to report them. *We are not even morally obligated to turn ourselves in *unless a bad thing would happen if we didn’t.

And especially when it comes to minor things, you don’t have to worry at all. Thise warning on pesticides are mostly there to keep people from suing anyone–but the trash men don’t report every improperly-disposed of fly spray to the police, do they? And the police are not out checking to make sure that this doesn’t happen, are they? So you know it’s minor.

Hope this helps!

Copyright law is tricky and this could be a copyright violation. Before I retired, I had to deal with questions concerning copyright, and saw the law in this area is complex.
But if it is a violation of copyright law, you are not morally obligated to report this. And the only ones to be expected to take action when a copyright violation occurs would be the person whose work is copyright-protected.
Not reporting it is not a sin, if it is a copyright violation.
Warning someone about the law in this area does seem something good, though you are not morally required to do it.

The thing you must do, which seems to be the only thing you won’t do, is get under the care of your priest for your srupulosity.

To All

So, there are secular laws that can be deemed not serious enough to report to the authorities or that I could even remain silent on? My mentality was to treat any secular law that does not contradict God’s law as being morally binding as the latter. I hope you understand why I am having trouble believing this. One would report things like murder and rape because they both violate law (depending upon where you live, I guess) and morality. I know violating copyright laws is not the same expression of sin as murder and rape, but the laws do not contradict God’s law. So, that is why I believed such laws should be adhered to in a way that you do not commit it yourself, you admonish others for committing it, and report violators where applicable. Although, I do not believe in reporting things like fornication or sodomy because such things do not violate secular law (in America).

Also, what exactly determines whether a secular law is serious or not serious? Does the government have guidelines to follow for such things? Does the Church have such guidelines? Is there a Catholic scholar that has words on this? Does a secular law not being serious give one the right to take it liberally (like, may I violate copyright)?

Pardon me if it seems like I am ranting. I am kind of in a hurry.

Yep… “admonishing” people for copyright violations will probably lead to a very lonely existence.:rolleyes:

Isn’t it amazing what being Catholic means to some people? :shrug:

She might be making an Anime Music Video. (AMV) Such videos involve one taking clips from various sources and compiling them into a single video. That was my first thought, anyway. :shrug:

If you are unfamiliar with the actual legal definition of violating copyright, you should not be reporting anyone. This video sounds to be under fair use. She isn’t selling it, she isn’t using it to advertise a product, she isn’t taking credit for the source work. This video sounds like it isn’t breaking the law in any way, and is most certainly not a sin. As another poster said, the only people who have the obligation to report copyright violation are the copyright holders themselves.

If you are not a copyright lawyer and are not well-versed in copyright law, as it is a very tricky subject, you should not be judging these kinds of things in the first place. Leave that kind of thing to the experts, and since this almost certainly falls under Fair Use Policy, you should not even be worrying about it. This law is in place for these specific kinds of situations, where a person is making a music video for their personal use at a birthday party for example.

Secondly, if you suffer from scruples, you should speak to a priest. You should not concern yourself with other people’s sins, especially when you are not in a position to accurately judge your own. It was good that you came here to ask before you did anything, but your relatives actions are not illegal. You need to talk to a priest or spiritual director about this as soon as possible.

Do you have a source for this?

Me: Gramms I need to talk to you

Gramms: What is it sweety-pookums?

Me: Gramms, I’m worried about you

Gramms: That’s sweet but your gramm-gramm is ok

Me: I’m not worried about your physical health, I’m worried about your soul

Gramms: Oh dear…

Me: I noticed you walking down the sidewalk the other day. You crossed the street with no crosswalk. You broke the law by jaywalking. I’m just admonishing you to stay on the straight and narrow path And I had an obligation to call the police for both of our sakes. The guy on the phone kinda laughed at me…a lot…but he just didn’t understand someones mortal soul was at stake. So I love you gramm-gramm and remember…I’m always watching you!

Gramms: I told your mother to be more careful about dropping you on your head…

Well, let me put it this way. If you were in a car with your relative and they were knowingly going 1 mph over the speed limit, would you take out your cell phone and call the police?

If you see a car fail to come to a full and complete stop at a stop sign, are you getting the license plate number and calling the police?

If it is illegal to burn before (say noon) in your area, and you see a neighbor burning at 11:59, are you calling the police?

This is one of those things learned through common sense and societal norms. Just like there are judgment calls with venial and mortal sins, the same is with the law.

I personally would say (as a general statement) that for minor violations of the law, there is no need to report. Now, where the line is depends on the situation, is someone harmed (physically? monetarily?).

It’s a felony crime in the State of Wisconsin to make a photocopy of a birth certificate, punishable by up to 3.5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine (see statute 69.24(1)(a)). But it’s not something I’m going to call the cops on if I know you made a copy of your own.

I was going to mention that it makes sense, since otherwise we would have to report everybody we see walk a red light… but I didn’t mention it because I know somebody who has scruples might actually find something else to worry about… know this from experience… been there, EXACTLY on this topic, or somethign very similar…

You are not required to report every violation of the law to the authorities. One example is if you see someone jaywalking in a city where this is illegal.

–oops!.This is what has been called a flame.

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