So I intend to pay for the monthly subscription service (currently on trial) which this series is released on, just that the series is has a staggered release date here in Europe. I intend to continue to pay for the service until all the episodes are released.
In the meantime, I’ve been downloading the series from the internet, so that I can watch them in quicker succession, the series is already released on the same service in America, for quite some time now.
I know the intention of service is to keep subscribers paying for a month or two, by staggering the releases here in Europe - however, I intend to pay for these months, and keep my subscription.
So is it a sin, to watch these episodes, if I have sourced them earlier, and from another place?
You do not have the right to watch them now and the intent to pay for them later does not negate the act at present. At best it is restitution for illicitly gained goods. It also does not account for the fact that you are encouraging those who are illicitly providing the material to many who will not pay for it.
Lets put it in a slightly different light. Is it okay to have intercourse with someone before marriage if you intend to get married later? Of course not. In both cases you cannot justify the sin by planning to rectify the situation in the future.
Actually, as long as you will eventually be paying for the entire series, I don’t see a problem with this. You are going around normal distribution channels, but you are injuring no one else’s rights, and I think it would border on scrupulosity to say “because I live in Europe, I am not supposed to be watching this yet, because the distributor doesn’t want people in Europe to get the full series all at once”. You’re getting your series, and you will finish paying for it as soon as their release schedule will allow you to. Seen that way, it sounds more like a credit transaction, or hire payments as they would say in the UK.
I have many European (Region 2) DVDs that I either purchased over there, or have ordered online from Europe. Strictly speaking, I am not supposed to be able to watch them in the US — they have different regions for marketing reasons. It’s not illegal, it’s just contrary to the way they intended the videos to be viewed. I was able to hack my US DVD player to show these, and I also have a grey-market DVD/VCR combo manufactured for the Hong Kong market (has that huge British-style electric plug though it is dual voltage) and further hacked by the distributor to convert it to a multisystem player. Works like a charm. (I also have a multisystem PAL/NTSC TV set.) Probably, deep down in the fine print of various licensing agreements, I am not “supposed” to be doing this, but what harm does it do? I paid for the DVDs and I watch them in my own home.
This is not a hill I would choose to die on. In dubio libertas.
“Time shifting” was the phrase the US Supreme court used to justify using copying devices to watch a program at a different time. Usually it means after, but it probably covers before as you are doing.
The issues are trickier than you are portraying though. If you got it from the US service, did you pay them?
Is there a reason it has been delayed where you are, ie it might improperly influence an election?
Are there differences between the US and other versions? The Queen cannot be mocked in the UK so some bits might be censored there. Virus news might cause a panic in Italy. Etc.
Most importantly, are you going to reveal spoilers to anyone? This issue is so important, the Simpsons devoted a whole episode to it recently! Will you discourage others from purchasing by revealing unreleased information? Do you know what is BEHIND THAT DOOR?
Mostly though, it should not be a problem if it is for your personal use only.
What if one of my friends in the US, recorded a TV show for me to VHS, then posted it to me to watch, as it wasn’t available in Europe yet? Further more, I paid for the show when it was released in Europe on VHS.
Would this be a sin? If not, what is different in my digital example?
If I went to the USA I wouldn’t steal it, I would buy it, and bring it home with me. Or perhaps I would have one of my friends purchase it for me, and send it to me. In other words, I’m willing to pay for it, I just don’t want to have to wait to watch it.
I could travel to America, and watch it, and that wouldn’t be a sin. So I’m struggling to see why my location causes this to be a sin. The reason it’s not available to watch in Europe yet is simply that the streaming services wants to keep their subscribers for a month or two, rather than just dumping the whole series at once, like Netflix, where the customer might just sign up for the trial, watch the series and then cancel.
However, I intend to stay a subscriber for those months anyway, in other words, the streaming service is getting what they want, and getting the money they are due.
It is for my personal use only.
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