Who to pay for pirated software?

Hi, I was using pirated software for at least half of my life and half a year ago found my faith - even though I am cradle catholic. So I had to stop using all the illegal software. And I did. However there are couple of questions:

  1. In my country as far as I know is legal to download music/movies etc. with exception of software. So should I include all the movies and music I’ve listened to even thouugh its legal?

  2. I dont remember every single thing I watched or program I used. So how should I calculate the amount of money I will have to return?

  3. Should I give it back to the company or should I give it to charity? My priest told me charity so I dont get into any trouble, but for example Fr. Ripperger on Youtube says you can not give money to charity as a mean of paying back for things you’ve stolen.

  4. If your answer to the question #3 is “give it back to the company”, than how should I feel about giving money to companies which in many cases support various … lets say… bad behaviours? For example if such company supports planned parenthood or something.


Assuming the material isn’t morally problematic for you why don’t you buy a physical or digital copy of the software, movies and music? This way those involved get some royalties and are compensated in some form.

The bonus is that you’d be able to use the software without fear of viruses.


I came to say this.

there are couple of problems: Some of the software is today subscription based and others can cost less than before (when I used them). Also what about using various versions of the software? If I buy one copy it doesn’t pay for the multiple versions of it I used throughout the years :thinking:

There is also the moral problem with immoral companies and the legality of downloading in my country.

But yeah I guess I could buy the software I just am not sure about the things above. Thanks!

Well, there are 2 ways.

1ºOut of nostalgia I wanted to play some of the games of my youth. So I have an online account on a games platform and slowly, overtime, bought most of the games there. (If I hadn’t played the pirated versions I wouldn’t have bought the legal versions later. Yeah, sometimes I payed 5$ later to play for less than 1 hour…)

2ºMost of the pirated movies I watched eventually were bought by State owned television in my country. So, my taxes eventually payed the movie rights anyway…

3ºIn recent years most software is available as open-source and for the majority of users its functionality is sufficient these days. (Either I bought versions of the software latter, or at least I contributed to create a user base when they were starting…)

4ºYou didn’t exactly steal from the poor. Most of those companies made millions anyway and you contributed as being audience at the time. Remember they saved money in publicity because you likely commented on their products with your friends.

Watch out for scrupulosity here. You DON’T have to pay for all the stuff you’ve “stolen” on the Internet. God doesn’t want you to spend your life attoning for something that at least some people on here don’t even consider a mortal sin. Do your penance and be done with it. If your confessor required you to pay it back, I’m sure he didn’t understand the scope of your downloading.

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Well I understand the danger of scrupulosity, but still… I should pay for what I have stolen - maybe not for all (because I don’t remeber every single thing) but I should try. I was told to pay back the money by a priest I know, so I am a little bit hasitant to not obey. :man_shrugging: Hopefully you understand.

Follow the advice of your own priest, who has actually spoken with you and is trying to pastorally help you.

Fr. Ripperger’s opinions are his own opinions. His opinions are not the laws of the church and his opinions have also been criticized for being pretty extreme.

It is generally not a good idea to “second guess” your own priest unless you think he made a serious error in talking about Catholic teaching (for example, if he told you it was okay to go have sex outside marriage). The priest didn’t make any kind of a serious error here, so you should take his advice.

Regarding calculating money, you’re not going to be able to calculate an exact amount down to the penny. And the point is that you’re repentant, not that you refund exactly the right amount of money adjusted for inflation, etc. I would just give a reasonable donation to charity and forget about the whole thing to be honest.

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