Legal and Illegal; Stealing and Purchasing

A couple of weeks ago someone asked me a simple question: “where do you get your music”. The simple answer I gave was, “iTunes, buy the actual CD’s, or use Urge”.  The response was: “oh, wrong answer”.  In the meantime someone had overheard his question to me and stated that, “Hey, if you want any music just let me know”.

This sets me up for the topic I’m about to discuss: legal verses illegal; stealing and purchasing.  I hope that the last response wasn’t thought out before being said, because in all honestly: it’s wrong.  When you purchase virtually any piece of music it’s illegal to make copies for anyone other than yourself.  If I said that I’ve never downloaded music illegally, then I would be lying: I have.  After I was convicted of it, it took days to find what I had bought (or had downloaded legally, as there used to be a lot of legal downloads on artist websites).

A common misconception is that when you purchase a piece of music it’s “yours and you can make copies of it”.  Wrong.  It’s illegal.  You can make copies for yourself (for example: I rip all my CDs to the computer since I’m on it most of the day).  It’s quick and easy to make a copy for your friends, just copy and give.  Doing that is causing someone else to sin and the Bible states in Luke 17:2 (NIV) that “It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”  It would be better for him!  We must not go with the easy way!

I currently have an Urge account that I can download as many CDs as I want (and listen to them on the computer only) as long as I pay 9.95 per month.  Honestly, that’s not a bad deal considering I stay on the computer virtually all day.

I guess this begs the question: Is letting someone borrow my CD(s) okay?  Honestly, I would say this depends.  Are they going to make a copy of it?  If so, you’re probably better off not even giving them the chance.  The Bible says we shouldn’t steal AND to obey the laws of the land.  In a since, when we “sharing” music with other people, we are breaking the law, and we’re causing the “sharee” to steal the music.  In this day it’s easy to do.  That doesn’t make it right, though.  I believe most try to justify their sin (in this area specifically) by “everyone else is doing it” or just simply “I didn’t know it was wrong” (when in actuality, many do know it’s wrong and are TRYING to be completely ignorant to the fact, or ignore their consciousness).

I could rant all day about this, but in the end it comes down to this: are you going to live for God, or live for self.  There are no in betweens.  Giving people music because they want them to “have something to worship to” isn’t a justification to sin either.  Sin is sin.  There are not justifications.

Finally, something a little off subject.  Yesterday as I was reading my new book (which is very awesome), “The Burning Heart Contract” by Becky Tirabassi, something jumped out at me that she said.  She was wanting to speak to students about committing to an hour in prayer each day, but found that the team she was with didn’t take too fond of the idea.  She states:

But the team thought it was a far too time-consuming and guilt-producing discipline to ask students to consider.  Their rejection of my idea made me feel–true or untrue–as if they considered me legalistic.  One thing I continue to learn about possessing a burning heart: if God calls you to deeper levels of prayer, purity, and purpose, you might be misunderstood as legalistic and will often stand alone. (“The Burning Heart Contract”, 114)

I think her assessment sums up everything beautifully.  And that’s what’ll have to close this post out.

4 Replies to “Legal and Illegal; Stealing and Purchasing”

  1. But then how do you reconcile your position with the first Epistle of John 3:17, wherein it is asserted:

    “But if anyone hath this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him.”

    How can you have affinity — indeed crow about your promotion — for a law which criminalizes sharing?

  2. This article is right on the mark. So good that I added it as a favourite on

    “Justin Osborne is only 21 years old. However, he has some keen insights on honesty, integrity and what it means to live is a Christian. This post outlines the issue with illegal downloading and CD copying of music. Find the answer on his post “Legal and Illegal; Stealing and Purchasing””

    In Service for Jesus,

    David Spencer

  3. I’m all for sharing and being selfless in giving. And try to do both in my everyday life.

    However, the problem is, no matter how you attempt to justify it, duplicating something you purchased is wrong and illegal.

    If you are serious about wanting to share and give to people (as in the quoted verse) why not purchase a mix CD or give the music away you no longer listen to? Just because that’s more difficult — you actually have to lose something — doesn’t mean it’s wrong. We’re too convenience concious today that if it is easy it’s ok, but if it requires something of us it’s wrong. That’s not how Jesus lived. It’s not what Jesus taught.

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