Illegally Sharing Music: What would Jesus Do?

Had a nice discussion last night in home group about illegally sharing one’s music collection with friends and family.

Apparently the illegality of such a thing does not tickle the Christian conscience in the least bit for we are as guilty as our unbelieving friends.

One of the students in the group incredulously asked, “What are we supposed to do, buy all of our music?”

To which I replied that entertainment is a privilege not a right, but somehow this too was a concept that might as well have been from another planet.


26 Responses to Illegally Sharing Music: What would Jesus Do?

  1. andrew says:

    It’s so easy to pirate the music and it seems like it doesn’t affect anyone.

    But, I’m friends with several artists who live off the music they write and record. I’ve been privileged to gain insight into the spring of life that inspires the songs they write. For reasons of my friendship and respect for them I couldn’t stel their music.

    But then, if I have a relationship with Jesus, and I ask Him to show me anything that hinders our relationship – I’m pretty sure He’s going to bring it up if I steal from my friends – if I steal a part of their paycheck. Whether it’s $100 or $0.01 really doesn’t make a difference.

    There seems to be so much that is unclear about what is legal and what isn’t. But just because I want my relationship with Jesus to overflow in blessing, I think I can handle paying a few dollars to enjoy my friends’ music, and through that bless/help them, rather than take it.

  2. misawa says:

    I don’t have a problem with the RIAA going after the sharer or the donwloader. At this point, when you can buy most songs for $.99 or less it’s ridiculous to not pay for it.

    My issue now is with the RIAA claiming that it’s illegal to buy a CD and place the files on a PC. I just don’t buy that interpretation of copyright law and doubt the court will either.

  3. j razz says:

    I have to deal with this all the time in my line of business as I get clients who want me to take their favorite song and sync it to their wedding video. This is illegal without first securing sync rights. It is like talking to a brick wall when I explain this to them. Some times I get a response that goes similar to this: “xyz business did it for my brother’s wedding”. Oh the things I wish to say, but I usually reply with, “and it still does not make it any more legal”.

    To get a sync license here in the US is rediculous. The fees are astronomical and the paperwork you have to work through is mind blowing. I often tell my clients who insist on using copyrighted music to sync to their video that they must first secure the rights and provide me with proof that they have indeed obtained such rights. To this day I have lost a lot of jobs because I refuse to break the law. To this day I have yet to have anyone secure such rights.

    In Australia, this is a non-issue. They make it very easy for those who want to buy the rights to do so. It is painless and reasonably priced. Here in the US if they copied such a system, there would be far less law breaking and I would not lose so much business because I choose not to break the law. Oh, and most of those I film for are professing Christians.

    I know this was a little off what you originally posted on but I thought I would add a little twist to it.

    j razz

  4. Laz says:

    Andrew, I tried to explain it to them from the artist’s perspective and that appeared to have some impact.

    I heard about that and thought about doing a post on it. The RIAA’s ploy reeks of desperation.

    I didn’t know it was illegal to sync songs to video without permission. Does that apply to youtube vids as well? What about photostory slideshows?

    Thanks ya’ll for taking the time to read and comment.

  5. j razz says:

    It applies to anything and everything that you do not own the rights to. The RIAA says that it is this way to protect the artist as they may not want to be associated with your video as it could be a terrorist message, a porn video, a really trashy- low budget flick, etc.

    But, on the other hand, if you are a big corporation and have the funds to fork out for a sync license you can pretty much buy any song you want and sync it to any of the above mentioned videos and they could care less as long as they are getting paid.

    And to answer your question more directly, yes. It is illegal to sync music to videos for youtube, home viewing, private use, etc. Now, private viewing and home use are still illegal but the RIAA has made statements in the past that they are not targeting such infringements.

    j razz

  6. Timm says:

    about six months ago, I went through my MP3 collection and deleted every song that I did not obtain legally. I was ridiculed for the decision, and my collection dwindled down to about a quarter of it’s original size, but my conscience is now clear.

    Good post Laz. It’s amazing how people shrink away when you point out that something that seems so harmless is against the law and is quite obviously sinful. Do you suppose it’s our pride that makes us fight against the idea, or have our consciences been hardened or desensitized?

  7. Laz says:

    Ya’ll remember the flap regarding Switchfoot’s “Nothing is Sound”?

    I bought an early copy of that CD, if you recall the early copies had a file which self-installed in your computers. The band also made it impossible to rip the songs on the CD. The band later saw the error of their ways and re-released a version of the CD without this file.

    Apparently Mac users didn’t have this problem. Which is why a couple of weeks ago I asked a good friend of mine (a Mac user) for some of the songs on the CD (I didn’t want to buy a CD I already had).

    Is this still illegal? I did buy (and still have) the CD, I just couldn’t rip the songs since I had the early version.

  8. j razz says:

    Technically yes, it is still wrong. Why? You bought a product with a license to that product. The license you had kept you from ripping the music due to the DRM. It is illegal to circumvent DRM. Now, if you had bought the one without DRM you would be fine to make a backup copy, but if the original disc did not allow you to do so due to DRM, any method to circumvent the DRM is illegal- that is according to US copyright laws and the digital millenium act.

    j razz

  9. Laz says:

    Thanks for the clarification J, will erase the files.

  10. Timm says:

    OK J. As long as your giving out information on the subject. I had a couple CD’s that were pretty badly scratched. My brother had the same exact CD’s. I borrowed his and copied them, think that since I had paid for the music when I bought mine it was fine. Legal?

  11. j razz says:

    I am no lawyer, but I would say yes as long as you did not circumvent any DRM contained on the discs (the ones your brother had). If you were ever questioned about the digital copies you have now (which is not very likely at all), I would hold on to the originals you have as evidence.

    And to think, I learned about all this just b/c I wanted to see if I could use a song in one of my videos. 🙂

    j razz

  12. freevolition says:

    So I have to wonder… is it illegal for me to loan a book to friend so that he or she may read it? Or give them my copy when I’m done with it? Hmmmm… I wonder if what the library is doing is illegal! After all, authors wrote those books and publishers published those books. Shouldn’t each individual have to buy their own copy of a book if they want to read it? (I DO hope you can see *tongue inserted firmly in cheek*)

    Oh! I know!! We can just share, listen and then give them their tunes back when we’re tired of them! 😀

    Sorry. I’m in a strange mood tonight. 😛

  13. kimita says:

    However, that book comparison is very interesting! How is that any different? Because there’s not an entity like the RIAA representing authors and authors’ rights? I’m a freelance writer and my work is copyrighted by the newspaper that publishes my work but other sources (i.e. nonprofit groups, clubs, organizations) take the stories from the Web site and post them on their Web sites or link them. This seems somewhat wrong because well I got paid for those stories and now someone else is using/benefiting from them. So, how exactly is all this different?

  14. j razz says:

    The book comparison does not really fit in the same category as we are not discussing the same thing. Once you give a book away, you no longer have it. Yes, you read it but you no longer have a copy of it. The same is true for music if you truly give it to someone (and you do not have a copy that you made from it). That is not illegal.

    What is, is when you give someone a copy of something you keep and did not pay for another license or copy of it. This is true for books, music, etc. You cannot scan a copy of a copyrighted book that you checked out from the library and expect that to be perfectly legal. You also cannot make that scanned copy available on the internet for free or for profit. The same holds true for music.

    j razz

  15. Verne says:

    I do not think it is proper to get copies from someone. However I will make an extra copy for myself to use in my car. I will not make a copy for someone else. What do ya’ll think of that?

  16. Timm says:

    Can I call you as an expert witness if I ever have to go to trial? 🙂

  17. misawa says:

    Verne, you are covered under the fair use doctrine. Making a direct copy for purpose of archiving, assuming that the original copyright has been transferred to you in a legal manner, is perfectly legal. Where the RIAA is now going off the deep end is with “transformative copy”, like changing a CD in to MP3s or some other such format.

  18. misawa says:

    Books most certainly do fit! Title 17 (Sec. 102) covers books just the same – the library buys the copyrighted book much the same as you or I would buy it (or a CD); it then loans it out, same as you or I would/could; nowhere in the process is anything copied so that two people hold the transferred material of one copyrighted work at any given time.

  19. Laz says:

    I still can’t believe it’s illegal to use songs for slideshows…

  20. Verne says:

    Thanks misawa. That is kind of what I thought.

  21. j razz says:

    Laz, do a search for synch license. You can visit this link to get an idea concerning the topic, but yes, it is illegal to sync up songs with any form of visual media without first securing a sync license.

    Timm, I doubt you would think of me as much of an expert if the RIAA ever took you to court and you called me as an expert witness. I am pretty sure I would get shredded 🙂

    j razz

  22. Laz says:

    I believed you, but I’m incredulous that they would get that stringent

  23. j razz says:

    There was a lady who filmed her small child on the child’s birthday and posted it on youtube. The video had some music playing in the background that was copyrighted. Some how the label found it and sent a take down notice and informed her that if she ever violated copyright law again she could be sued. I do not have a link to the story but I do remember reading about it several months back. The lady said that she was merely posting some videos of her child for family to see. She did not think that anyone else would show interest in them and it scared her pretty bad when she got a letter from the RIAA.

    By the way, I didn’t doubt that you believed me, I just wanted to give you some more information on it.

    j razz

  24. j razz says:


    I thought you might be interested in this.

    j razz

  25. j razz says:

    In regards to my last post here, as quick as it came, it has been taken away.

    See here.

    j razz

  26. Laz says:

    I saw that J on Drudge right after reading your first comment about it, lol

    It sounded too good to be true, had to check my calendar to make sure that it wasn’t April Fool’s…

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