Software piracy still wrong even if it has reasons?

So I’ve been kinda asking, in this case, if software piracy is still wrong in these cases, for example, an university student who NEEDs a book/program, however, there are a pretty big load of obstacles, such as said book not being sold in his country OR is very expensive, he could be able to buy it on the internet, but his country has currency exhange control and getting credit cards is remarkably tough, therefore making the legitimate way of getting the product pretty hard and thus, pirated produccts are pretty much the norm. Would it still be considered wrong?

It’s kind of pretty much the case over here, university can be even FREE, but as far I think some studies say, 88% of our stuff is pirated, some books are ludicrously expensive and someone could only study at a library and the mayority of the electronic tools, movies and stuff we use are pretty much a luxury as far I know to get legitimately, so pretty much everyone downloads the stuff and sometimes you’re EXPECTED to do so.

Piracy is stealing and it wrong. I am not certain that I followed all of the complexities that you mentioned but from my perspective they dont matter anyway.

Yes it is always wrong. It is stealing don’t try to justify it.

That said, a small percentage of a book can be copied for educational purposes , I think it’s around 10-20%.

Look into textbook rentals or used books you sell back when your done with them. or else buck up!

Ask yourself this. When your done with school, and if you ever own or work for a company that makes software or textbooks, would you be ok if most of your customers claimed some hardship and so they stole your books.

You get no money for your hard work because someone thought you charged to much so they stole it.

Would that be ok with you ?

We’re supposed to avoid piracy, anyway.

I live in Mexico. Often times, I’ve heard a class might buy one book, copy it for the rest of the class. Pirated material is sold openly. In the past, I participated in this, and even to some degree in the US when it seemed “expected”. However now, I am trying harder and harder to avoid it.

Here, piracy is so common, that it even happens quite routinely in church and religious groups who will photocopy materials. I’ve seen people even photocopy, sell them. I once tried to explain to someone doing that about piracy, and she said she never heard of such.

I dropped out of one religious group here, in part, due to the piracy. They would photocopy booklets, expect us all to use them. Sometimes, to keep peace, I did.

Here, they will often copy programs. I once offered to pay for mine, and that seemed almost inconceivable to some, here, when I could get it for free.

I am probably not 100% immune. It’s so rampant, that it’s hard to avoid completely.
I try to move in that direction, though.

Here, they have an ad which shows someone stealing a video. It says, “You wouldn’t steal a video”. It shows someone downloading, illegally. It says that it is illegal, that it is stealing, that stealing is wrong.

Think of it this way. Would it be okay to go into a store, steal a book because it was prohibitively expensive, difficult to come by? The answers are the same for piracy. We must do our best to resist.

I’ve worked in organizations that were trying to stretch a dollar, copied books, but now, I’d try harder to resist.

Stealing is wrong. It is that simple.

I would discuss this with my confessor. I am incredibly poor by the standards of the U.S. and at one time regularly pirated all that I needed, or better yet thought I needed, to get by. When I discussed this with my confessor and he told me this was theft, he said I had to restore what I had stolen. I explained I couldn’t and had no way to pay for what I needed. He told me then to put a coin in the box for the poor as a penance, but I was still guilty of theft and had to confess.

That said, since I forsook pirating God has provided all that I needed and just in time, although sometimes it was inconvenient and I couldn’t have things I didn’t need, such as games and movies etc. Perhaps you and your mates are going to have to go in together to buy a book to share or go study at a library.

That said talk to your confessor. There could be some extenuating circumstances that I can’t comment on that he could that may impact your situation. Copyright laws are no longer fair as they were at one time and as you said your country’s situation may make things unfair to you. It may be that your confessor may have you do something such as download what you need and then send a fair amount to the publisher anonymously; however, don’t assume that’s right. You need moral guidance from trained clergy on this, not some advise from laymen on a forum.

I can tell you want to do the right thing, but don’t put your soul in jeopardy because you think you need something you can’t afford. If the Lord wants you to have it He will provide a way if you ask Him. Remember what Paul said. “You do not have because you do not ask.” Ask God for what you need and talk to your priest and confessor and look for a way to be honest.

That… Seems to be pretty Black and white, I don’t think the circumstances should be dismissed, that’d kinda be dismissing we’re on Earth anyways.
Also I think there’s no book renting over here, the books themselves could be borrowed from the library but they’re pretty rare already.

Ask yourself this. When your done with school, and if you ever own or work for a company that makes software or textbooks, would you be ok if most of your customers claimed some hardship and so they stole your books.

I’ve been asking this myself several times and I might just make all my works for free anyways, or if they need to be bought, make an alternative that makes it easy enough for people who can’t buy directly to get them while I get remuneration, like ads or something.
But if they had to pirate it? I wouldn’t care, basically everything I could get was pirated anyways.

It’s not as bad as here tho, literaly EVERYTHING is pirated, music is only downloaded and bough from hawkers, and I think legitimate music retailers are extinc, or that there are so few that they’re incredibly rare, maybe the same for videogame stores, even in the Nintendo DS case, everyone just has a R4, original games are hard to find, not to mention, I think someone even had a govt. built computer with a pirated OS (govt. changed to open source tho).

So… I still don’t exactly know tho, I’m studying for computer engineering, and most (if not all) the tools I could get from it seem to be only pirated tho…

This is incorrect. Pirating software and electronic books is not stealing. It is copyright infringement. You might think that’s mere semantics, but there is a very real, tangible difference. If you go steal a physical book or DVD, you are depriving the owner of his property. He is now out a book or video. He simply no longer has access to that original good. This is the primary reason that theft is wrong. It deprives the original owner of his property.

On the other hand, with pirated electronic “Intellectual property” you are making a copy, so you don’t deprive the owner you copied from of absolutely anything. What you are doing is not respecting a legal convention that the artist should be compensated for his work. I am sensitive to that convention, because I also believe in Intellectual Property and Copyright.

However, the original intent of copyright was to encourage the production of original works, not to make the owner a rich cat, so copyright had a very limited time frame. As time passed, corporations became much more powerful, and now you have them owning copyrights to major historical works with no end in sight- not exactly what the original architects of copyright had in mind.

If you decide to commit copyright infringement, be sure that at least you are not depriving anyone of anything. That said, I think we should compensate our struggling artists, if we want those works to continue to come about. You are violating a law (of which you violate several everyday), but I doubt its a mortal sin.

I know my opinion here is probably unpopular, but if you have an urge to learn from these materials (for educational purposes, that is), I would encourage you to. You are not harming anyone. But, be sure to buy other goods from the authors later on when you are more economically fit, or simply donate to them.

Some people fall into the trap of always pirating software or music even from small-time authors, even when they are economically well-off. I consider this ungrateful and irresponsible and frankly low. But I believe that the opportunity for education is worth a little (gasp) copyright infringement. Most graphic artists start off with pirated versions of Photoshop and the move their way up to costly and legal thousand-dollar software once they are profitable enough.

That said, I prefer to legally use open source software, which is more friendly towards your rights anyways, than to pirate software.

Talk to your priest. He knows the situation on the ground. You need help from the pros on this, but don’t try to take action on your own or look for someone on a forum to justify potentially sinful action.:thumbsup:

Anyone who pirates software or books is, in one sense, taking something that doesn’t belong to them. However, determining if this “taking” actually constitutes the sin of theft requires the entire situation to be considered. To get a good answer, you might need to ask a priest who’s familiar with your particular circumstances.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia (newadvent.org/cathen/14564b.htm)::slight_smile:

For the notion of theft, the unwillingness of the owner to part with what is rightfully his, is essential. If he be content, or if under some circumstances he can legitimately be presumed to be satisfied with what is done although perhaps displeased at the manner of its doing, there is no theft properly so called. Moreover his unwillingness must be reasonable, not simply insensate close-fistedness. He is not justified in declining always and without regard to conditions to assent to the alienation of what belongs to him merely because it is his. Thus one in danger of death from want of food, or suffering any form of extreme necessity, may lawfully take from another as much as is required to meet his present distress even though the possessor’s opposition be entirely clear.

It’s true that having this software is unlikely to be necessary for your survival, and the examples from the encyclopedia and Thomas Aquinas only consider goods necessary for survival. On the other hand, some software companies (e.g. Microsoft) tacitly approve piracy of their products in 3rd-world countries because it increases their market share without depriving them of a sale (which wouldn’t have plausibly occurred anyway).

I’m not saying that it’s okay for you to pirate software. My point is that, in some situations, not all takings are considered to be theft. On the other hand, because I live in a richer country, I’m quite sure that any piracy that I personally committed would be sinful.

I encourage you to find a local priest whose judgment you trust (one that you trust not to be lax in moral matters) and ask him. Once you get an answer from him, obey it. On this forum, the scope of experience and advice that we can give is limited, as I doubt that many of us on here have experienced the reality of living in an extremely poor country.

Thanks, I’m gonna try to see if I can ask later on. I’m trying to use Free-to-use software atm but if I could get dollars and buy the usual software it maybe would be pretty great.

The post about how it is not theft seems pretty interesting too, and if I remind, the canon also mentions how a 10 years old child stealing a nickel from a rich man would be another thing.
Also, I wanted to ask, what about abandonware? that is, programs that are so old that their usual platform is not even being sold AND the product itself isn’t either? I mean, there are some games that are REALLY old or ROMS for pretty old games that aren’t even sold anymore, would that be considered wrong?

I’m not sure if what you say is categorically true – according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, even the unjust use of another’s property can be considered theft:

newadvent.org/cathen/14564b.htm

Not only the taking, but the keeping or the use unjustly of what belongs to another against his will, is to be considered theft. This would happen, for instance, where one unwarrantably refused to restore what had been entrusted to him as a pledge or loan or only for safe-keeping. Likewise where one would manage to ride on the railway without paying any fair.

Admittedly, this example breaks down because riding a train deprives the ability of paying customers to occupy the same seat. Normally, though, piracy does deprive the copyright holder of the money that they’re due.

I looked in the catechism and Vatican website for information on software piracy, but they are silent on this particular manner. (They say much more about literal piracy, as in the violent kind.) The problem of piracy wasn’t even widely known when the catechism was written, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they would categorize piracy as theft if they wrote it today. But, as I said in my previous post, theft isn’t sinful unless the owner’s will is reasonable.

The problem with abandonware/ROMs is that they very often do end up getting sold at a later date. Most of the really good old games have gone on sale again on GoG, Steam, or Virtual Console. One who copies those games is likely depriving the owner of future sales (notwithstanding your particular situation, which I advised you to ask your priest about).

One who copies obsolete software may also deprive the owner revenue of sales of similar products (for example, if I copied Office XP, I probably wouldn’t need to buy Office 2013 – same for games).

I’d argue that the original definition of “property” is different from “Intellectual Property”. it certainly does not have all the same implications. How can I “abuse” somebody’s property, if I’ve only got a copy of it and my use (or misuse) of it has no bearing to the condition of the original?

If I modified it and gave it to others, I could definitely see as an abuse if the license doesn’t allow it, but not in the case of private use.

I would be wary of the word “deprive” here. You would be using the older product, not the newer version. And then there’s the case of people who buy a game and then rebuy it over and over as the platform/media changes. If copyright law were hanged to be more fair and true to the original intent, software copyright would expire in a reasonable time and abandonware wouldn’t even be in question.

Oh look, it’s the I’m-not-stealing-I’m-making-a-copy argument. The way digital copyright holders make money is by selling copies. By making your own copy, you are receiving the good/service without paying for it and are therefore stealing. Splitting hairs isn’t going to change that.

Let me ask something. If the criteria to determine if something is “stealing” is whether or not the owner still has the original in the end, would it be okay to remove a book from a book store, read it and then put it back before the year end inventory count? After all, the store now has the same amount of stuff to sell, so it’s okay, right? :rolleyes:

However, the original intent of copyright was to encourage the production of original works, not to make the owner a rich cat,

Silly me. I thought that the point of copyrights was to encourage original works by making the author money.

Some people fall into the trap of always pirating software or music even from small-time authors, even when they are economically well-off. I consider this ungrateful and irresponsible and frankly low.

“And then the LORD said to Moses ‘Thou shalt not steal . . . from people with income below a certain threshold, but if a man’s income is above that threshold, feel free to taketh whatever thou wants from him. He hath too much stuff anyway.’”

How do we decide who is “economically well-off” and who isn’t? Because this author has not one, but four books from a large publisher, he must be "well-off,"so his works are okay to pirate them? Because this song was on the radio, the guy singing it must be doing pretty well for himself, so its okay to pirate it? Because a video game was developed by a large company it must be okay to pirate it because no one involved could possibly be in need of money and in danger of losing his job if the game didn’t sell well enough?

It’s not an argument. It’s the simple truth. And to be more specific, I said it was copyright infringement, not just “making a copy”. I’m sorry you found it necessary to have your sarcastic/mocking cap on for your reply.

You are comparing two different things. Taking the book with intent to keep it is theft, period. Taking it to read it and put it back id not quite theft, but still an abuse of property, and in the end, you are depriving the owner of her property. You have no idea if the owner will want to use it while you are “borrowing it” without permission.

A copy NEVER deprives the owner of the original. There is simply no lack there. Let me ask you something: If a family had a banquet and I were hungry, would it be okay for me to steal the food and share it with my starving neighbors, considering that the original family might actually go hungry? Now, if I could “copy” that food and share it with my starving neighbors without depriving the family of theirs, would that be stealing? I would gander a guess that the Church might actually ENCOURAGE this type of “copying”!

Now, software is not a necessity for life, so its not nearly on the same scale, but copyright infringement is clearly a different animal from merely stealing, and if you don’t see that, you are blind to a very basic fact. Is it wrong? All things being equal, I’d say YES. But it is certainly not equivalent. Lying and murder are both wrong, but it’d be unreasonable to call them “just as bad”!

Correct. But it was never meant to be an almost perpetual license as it is now. You’ve got music from the '20s being owned by giant corporations, though the original owners are long dead and profits have been made on the music over and over and over again. This was supposed to fall into the public domain, but the law continues to be extended at the lobbying of these powerful corporations.

Just because they have the economical power to bribe and buy the law into being doesn’t suddenly make this a moral imperative.

Again, it’s not stealing. Frankly, I doubt that God is very much concerned with our copyright infringement, though the intent behind it is probably significant.

That’s not at all what I’m suggesting. I’m suggesting that if there is an educational interest, and pirated software is the only thing available, I’d go for it, while remembering to “go legit” once one is profitable enough. This is very common for graphic professionals and other people who need costly software to start them going. Again, I encourage people to use open-source software anyway.

I hope you’ve gotten all of that mockery and sarcasm out of your system, so we can be more Christian-like to each other now.

Let’s put it this way: You go to a bookstore. When you buy a book what you are primarily paying for is not a lump of plant matter and glue, but the information in those books. You get the information and the bookstore gets money. If the book store does not get money, taking the information (that is, the book) is called stealing.

When you buy a book online what you are primarily paying for is the information in the books. You get the information and the book seller gets money. If the book seller does not get money, taking the information (that is, the book) is somehow not stealing? It’s exactly the same act. Coming up with cute names for it like “abuse of property” do not change that.

Let me ask you something: If a family had a banquet and I were hungry, would it be okay for me to steal the food and share it with my starving neighbors, considering that the original family might actually go hungry? Now, if I could “copy” that food and share it with my starving neighbors without depriving the family of theirs, would that be stealing? I would gander a guess that the Church might actually ENCOURAGE this type of “copying”!

This is irrelevant, not only because you acknowledged that the software that you’re okay with pirating is, unlike food, a want, not a need, but also because it overlooks what is going on. If your neighbors consensually gave you the food to copy, then it would be like something given away for free and that’s not what we’re talking about.If you took for the food from your neighbors without their consent, that would still be theft.

Now, software is not a necessity for life, so its not nearly on the same scale, but copyright infringement is clearly a different animal from merely stealing, and if you don’t see that, you are blind to a very basic fact. Is it wrong? All things being equal, I’d say YES. But it is certainly not equivalent. Lying and murder are both wrong, but it would be unreasonable to call them “just as bad”!

Given that all mortal sins are equally good at separating one from God, I could reasonable say that theft, piracy, murder and (in some cases) lying are all “just as bad.”

Correct. But it was never meant to be an almost perpetual license as it is now. You’ve got music from the '20s being owned by giant corporations, though the original owners are long dead and profits have been made on the music over and over and over again. This was supposed to fall into the public domain, but the law continues to be extended at the lobbying of these powerful corporations.

Just because they have the economical power to bribe and buy the law into being doesn’t suddenly make this a moral imperative.

This is a bad argument for three reasons. One: It assumes that none of these copyrights are owned by the descendents of the originators. Two: It assumes that all corporations are evil. Three: In the rest of your argument, you are at least trying to restrict the acceptability of piracy to things that in some way could be called necessary. Lamenting how you can’t have free music from decades ago doesn’t really fit with that.

Again, it’s not stealing. Frankly, I doubt that God is very much concerned with our copyright infringement, though the intent behind it is probably significant.

Be careful with that line of thinking. The “I don’t think God really cares about that” line has been used to justify every sin under the sun.

That’s not at all what I’m suggesting. I’m suggesting that if there is an educational interest, and pirated software is the only thing available, I’d go for it, while remembering to “go legit” once one is profitable enough. This is very common for graphic professionals and other people who need costly software to start them going. Again, I encourage people to use open-source software anyway.

Being “very common” does not make something okay. Putting the livelihoods of the software developers at risk for one’s own personal development is not okay; it’s selfish.As for finally paying for it when you’re “profitable enough” I’d like to ask exactly when that would happen. As people’s income increases, so, generally, does their cost of living. Even though they are making more than they ever have, they will still insist that they aren’t “rich.” In fact, many will insist that they are still “poor” so they still can’t be expected to pay for the things they pirate. That’s the problem with the “I only pirate because I can’t afford it” way of thinking. You never had enough. If people actually learned financial responsibility (eg learn to distinguish what you actually need from what you think you need, saving up money over time for big purchases) then most of this problem would go away.

I hope you’ve gotten all of that mockery and sarcasm out of your system, so we can be more Christian-like to each other now.

How about we be “Christian-like” by paying people for their work, not only when it suits us, but every single time.

No, it is not. It is called copyright infringement. Do you have a problem with differentiating between terms? You may want to call it stealing. Perhaps because you want it to fall under the eight commandment and seal your argument. But under the law, it is “copyright infringement”. Even where the law refers to “theft” of “Intellectual Property”, it is a different concept from theft of physical property. We can argue that its still wrong, but it IS different.

You could argue that all I’ve “stolen” is “a bunch of words”, to de-emphasize the content the same way you tried to de-emphasize the physical item. The physical item takes a lot more energy to create and transport than the digital version. Taking one of the physical versions also deprives the owner of the item. Taking of the digital version, wrong or not, does not. These are not trivial or unimportant differences, as you want to make them out to be.

Again, the dripping sarcasm… Look, maybe the lawyers think its a “cute name”, but that doesn’t concern me. What does concern me is that they are different things. Are you going to argue that “gay marriage” is the same concept as “marriage” because it’s similar? You are either unable to grasp the differences here, or simply being dishonest.

Again, I was trying to illustrate the difference between a physical theft depriving the owner of the item, while copyright infringement does not.

Equally good? Where did you get that from? They might all separate us from God, but somehow I’d image that a murder would be a bit more difficult to get over than a theft.

  1. Sometimes they are. So what? That’s not the original intention of copyright.
  2. Big corporations, like big government is usually pretty bad. It was the same with the Church. The more powerful the church got, the more corrupt people joined her and were apt to abuse that power. It’s just our sinful human nature. One thing is clear: They have lobbied to expand copyright for their corporate benefit, not for the benefit of society of mankind.
  3. Maybe for you it “doesn’t fit”. But I find it an abuse of the law. There is a public domain for a reason, but it doesn’t fit the corporate agenda.

I qualified it well enough for those who wish to understand my reasoning correctly.

What loaded language! If I have no money to pay, I am not putting anyone’s livelihood “at risk” by downloading a copy. I may be committing a sin, or a “crime”, but I am certainly not putting anyone’s livelihood at risk.

In fact, I would argue that by using the software, music or book when I wouldn’t have been able to had I had to pay, I am far more likely to use that product or related products in the future, so instead of putting the “livelihoods of the software developers at risk”, I am more likely to add to their livelihoods. Before you accuse me of rationalizing or justifying sin, understand that I am not saying that its any more morally correct, just that your argument doesn’t quite hold as much water as you’d like it to.

Sure, many people have very poor financial skills and men can always find ways of justifying their wrongful behaviors. I addressed that in my prior post.

Are you always so hostile and accusatory? Since first reply your responses have been dripping with mockery and sarcasm. I’ve never claimed to have pirated any electronic works. In fact, I have been clear that I support the idea of copyright, support individual authors, stay away from bigger corporations and prefer open-source software. Why do you assume that I do this or that, just because we have a difference of opinion? I am sorry that you are unable to discuss this without such hostility.

Software piracy is always wrong. I work with artists and I’ve even taught art classes. Today, I would tell my students to put away their laptops and hand them a pencil and piece of paper and ask them to draw something. If they can’t do a good job with that, they aren’t ready for a computer and software. I know how to use computers for drawing things but if I’m not good enough, I’m not good enough. I have to practice and learn, which a person can do on their own.

bsa.org/anti-piracy/anti-piracy-agenda

Peace,
Ed

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