Is copyright infringement theft?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Dale-c, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. Dale-c

    Dale-c
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    In the digital age, copyright infringement has been a bigger problem than ever before, especially in the first half of the last decade.

    Many people argued that downloading music illegally was just as bad as stealing a CD.
    Others argued that it was no big deal at all and that calling it theft was absurd.

    I myself had a hard time thinking of it as being as bad as actual theft, yet I do consider pirated software, music etc to be wrong.

    R.C. Sproul has a video where he talks about degrees of sin and it in he talks about hating your brother, lusting in your heart etc.

    He points out that in both cases, the Bible is not saying that the sin in the heart is equal to the actual sin. However, the law against murder can be violated in lesser ways than actually killing someone.
    We all recognize attempted murder for instance, yet that person is not tried the same as one who actually commits murder.

    So, back to copyright issues, it finally made sense to me when I realized that in much the same way, this is a lesser violation of the laws against theft.
    So, is downloading an MP3 from the internet illegally the same as walking into Best Buy and stealing a CD? No. Does it still violate God's greater law against theft?
    I think it does.
     
  2. Don

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    Agreed. .
     
  3. InTheLight

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    I also agree. I also admit that I've downloaded many albums, movies and TV episodes without guilt. Why? Most of the stuff I already owned but in outdated formats. Sometimes in multiple formats (music on vinyl, then cassette.) Another example is the TV series 24. I made VHS recordings of all episodes from the first six seasons. I still have them. But when I decided I wanted to re-watch these shows on my HDTV I did not pull my VCR out of storage and watch the tapes; rather I downloaded the episodes to a portable USB drive and watched them. They've since been erased.

    Another example--I had a DVD of Monsters, Inc. that got scratched and so would always hang on playback at a certain spot. I downloaded a copy of that movie.

    It's gotten to the point that rather than use my cable system's DVR to record a program (and then need to fast forward through commercials) I find it more efficient to download the program.

    In all these cases I already owned the content or had a legal right to view it.
     
  4. jbh28

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    Yes

    In both cases you are acquiring digital media. Getting it on a CD or downloading the song is basically the same thing as far as this is concerned. both ways you are getting a song in digital format. Saying one is stealing and the other isn't would be like saying going in the front door isn't stealing, but the back door is.
     
  5. InTheLight

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    Not quite. Stealing something means depriving someone of having possession of an object. Downloading an album does not deprive Best Buy from having that CD in inventory. Still, it is wrongly acquiring the object. Copyright infringement is not theft, but sometimes it can be.
     
  6. ktn4eg

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    Wikipedia has an interesting article entitled "Copyright Infringement." You might want to look it up to at least see what it has to say.

    At one time (when cassettes were in vogue), I was more or less "in charge" of the "tape ministry" for the church of which I was a member at the time. (We're talking of the 1970's - 1980's here.) Occasionally some one would approach me and ask me to duplicate either a copyrighted message and/or copyrighted music. I would always refuse to do so because of the fact that it was copyrighted. To me (and this is just me), I considered that to be robbing the speaker/artist/copyright holder of their "just rewards" (or whatever you want to call it).

    There have been times in the past where I've seen a church's choir director at the church office's copy machine running off several copies of sheet music for the choir to use.

    The church of which I'm currently a member ( www.lighthouseministries.org ) , has for years made it a policy to refuse to either audibly or visually copy any musical performance made by anyone before the church audience. (They do, of course, allow a person to use an accompaniment CD.) Any words/visuals that are projected onto the projection screen up front are purchased in advance from a copyright clearing house and/or service---thus allowing our church "fair use" of whatever is projected onto the screen.

    I guess beings as we are located near "Music City USA" probably has something to do with this policy that we've long adopted.
     
  7. Zaac

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    Does this perspective mesh with the whole of Scripture?


    So does this speak to our perspective or God's?

    That's man's reasoning. Does God's word distinguish between killing someone and attempting to kill someone?

    But still theft.

    Yes, it's still theft.

    The ACT may not be the same, but the SIN is.

    Perhaps we are attempting to do what we often do which is complicate that which is simple. Aproach God's word like a child. If He says it, take it that way. It'll clear up a lot of confusion that arises from us trying to go to deep.:flower:
     
  8. Crabtownboy

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    You example is theft. You are stealing royalty fees the composers, musicians would have earned from the sale of a CD.
     
  9. InTheLight

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    The royalties were already earned when Best Buy purchased the CD.
     
  10. Dale-c

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    I would like to note that the main difference here is a temporal one. Wanting to kill someone in your heart will not send you to prison, but it will send you to hell without God's grace.
     
  11. jbh28

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    No, stealing is taking something without permission that doesn't belong to you. Copyright infringement is the same as taking the CD because you are taking(digital copy of music) that doesn't belong to you. The CD is just the menium that the digital media is located on. Whether it sits on a hard drive on a server somewhere or on a CD, it's still stealing.
     
  12. Crabtownboy

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    This does not negate the theft of the royalty on a sale. It means Best Buy will sell one less CD and thus, in all probability, will not order as many in the future. It is still theft.

    Also you are denying Best Buy the small profit of the sale of a CD. Thus it is thieft.

    It is theft from the writer of the music, from the group who recorded the music, and from the store.

    Your idea is like saying, yes I swiped the apple from the tree, but that didn't hurt the farmer ... he already owns the tree.
     
    #12 Crabtownboy, Sep 8, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2013
  13. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    If a recording, either audio or video, is offered for sale somewhere, and I make a copy of it, I have stolen the due rewards of the owner of the copyright, because I have not paid him/her for the privilege of acquiring their product. I have, in effect, stolen it.

    If the recording is offered for free, but a request is made that, should I acquire it for anything other than my own personal edification/use, I credit the producer/artist/technicians who produced the recording, and I fail or refuse to do so, I have, in effect, stolen it.

    If I "cut-and-paste" the contents of an article online and post it as a new thread, or as my "reasoned response" to someone else's post here on BB, and fail to credit the online article's author, I have, in effect, stolen it.

    The answer to the OP has no grey areas. They are all cut-and-dried black-and-white. There is no excuse for using copyrighted material and either not paying for it, or not crediting the one who produced it.
     
  14. InTheLight

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    Theft is taking something from someone so they no longer possess it. Copyright infringement is, well, copyright infringement. It is a crime and it is wrong, but technically speaking, and legally speaking it is not theft.
     
  15. Salty

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    Yes, it is.
     
  16. InTheLight

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  17. jbh28

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    theft is the act of stealing. Stealing is taking something without permission that's not yours. "no longer possessing" isn't required to be considered theft.

    To take (the property of another) without right or permission.
     
  18. InTheLight

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    The two components, according to the Supreme Court, are to "no longer possess the object" and "deny the use thereof".

    Going by your definition, if I go into your garbage can and take out an empty bag of potato chips that is theft.
     
  19. RIPP0NWV

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    On a spiritual level however, both will send you to the Lake of Fire without Christ. When I worked in a photo shop, it was strictly forbidden to copy a photo of any professional photographer without written permission unless the picture was over 75 years old. Maybe that biases my judgment, but believe what you are talking about is not on the up and up. Whether or not it is a less or worse sin that actual theft, I do not know. I believe both to be wrong in the eyes of God.
     
  20. AresMan

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    Exactly. These should be considered two different things. Both are illegal and have their own consequences, but they are not the same things. This is coming from someone who wrote a copyrighted book. ;)

    Copyright used to be a civil matter. Now, the lawyer lobbyists for recording, producing, and publishing industries have all but made copyright infringement a capital criminal offense.

    At least--for the time being--copyright is something that one can only violate with intent. When it comes to software patents, and some trademarks, it's like trying to walk through a minefield to avoid "infringing" on someone else's so-called "intellectual property" by pure accident and having absolutely no knowledge that the thing "infringed" existed.
     

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