Author’s note:  Whether you want to create your own personal history or would like Kathy Kidd to do it for you, Kathy’s blog has what you’re looking for.  Go to and click on “Writing a Personal History” to get more information.

September 19 was “International Talk like a Pirate Day,” which was a neat coincidence considering the topic of pirated movies was introduced on that day.  But even though your friends may have driven you crazy with their AAAARRRR jokes on Monday, Meridian readers have absolutely no patience for people who steal copyrighted material. 

I didn’t get a single letter defending the practice, but I would have been surprised if I had.  What puzzles me is how many Church members send me pirated material as gifts, considering that all of us seem to know it is wrong.

Our first letter is a real eye-opener.  Who knew that pirating movies could put a person on the slippery slope to divorce and inactivity?

WOW!   Pirated movies contributed to my divorce several years ago (among many other things). 

My ex-husband was perfectly okay stealing movies and did not see my objections as rational.  This is back in the day when we rented VHS videos.  He would set up his camcorder in front of the TV and yell at the kids if they made a sound.  He got way more sophisticated, buying gadgets that would record from one VCR to another and then some gadget that took off the anti-piracy controls. 

As you can tell, this went on for many, many years.  I have noticed over my lifetime that small acts of unrighteousness usually lead to another act, which leads to another, which landed my ex in a very bad place emotionally and spiritually.  If you can steal the Star Wars trilogy, then certainly you can steal porn movies and hide them from your wife. 

This went on for much longer than I knew.  My ex’s countenance went from light to gray to dark until his light flickered out (and no, he did not die).  Who is to say that stealing movies wasn’t the beginning of his downfall?  

As to watching something that someone else stole, I am guilty.  I did it to keep my marriage somewhat normal in those tumultuous years (I didn’t watch the nasty stuff; I didn’t know he had that).  The day I invited him to leave was the day I boxed up all his movies and sent them with him (except for the cache I found hidden in his drawer, which I destroyed and threw in the dumpster outside), never to watch another pirated movie, ever! 

I have professional artists, musicians, writers and bloggers in my family.  They earn their living doing what the rest of cannot.  They deserve credit and payment.

Willing to Pay

What a story, Willing!  There you have it, readers — evidence that “small” things like video piracy can lead to a multitude of sins. 

On a personal note, it’s neat to know that the bloggers in your family are learning a living doing their blogs.  I’m hopeful!

As a former high school media technician, I abhor people who break copyright laws — especially when it refers to creative genius, such as the arts.  The public thinks that they “own” a movie, CD, DVD, sheet music, or other work of intellectual property if they bought one copy.  Yes, they own that specific copy.  However, even if they purchase any of the said, it is illegal (breaks the law) to make any copies of it.

It is very presumptuous to assume that creative genius does not deserve monetary gain.  Artists have family to support and bills to pay just as the rest of us do.

Church members are notoriously at fault about making copies of sheet music!  Years ago, my bishop reprimanded the choir director for doing so.  She assumed she was saving money for the ward.  He set her straight.  He then told her to “order” copies she needed.

Jane Tierney

North Platte, NE 

Jane is right, people.  You don’t “own” a movie even if you bought it.  You own that copy, and when you make copies of that movie to distribute to others, you’re breaking the law.

Theft is theft. Taking some one else’s work illegally is pretty tough to defend.

Short but to the Point

Amen to that, Short.  But why do so many church members do it?

Although I do love Johnny Depp, I have to say that the pirating you are speaking of is a plain, cut- and-dry issue.  It is stealing.  Even if it weren’t illegal, it would be wrong.  This is the type of thing that leads to anarchy. 

I even order sheet music online.  Music already recorded is a little more difficult, only because Apple allows you to pay and share a limited number of times.  There must be order. 

This is an easy answer, and I will be disappointed if you get a lot of answers to the contrary.  Be certain I will be watching to see the outcome!

Tess from Vegas

No need to be disappointed, Tess.  Not one person who sent letters this week came to the defense of movie pirates.

Movies that are pirated (copied) are illegal. All movies, unless otherwise indicated, have copyrights and are protected by law.

As Latter-day Saints we should stay away from that sort of thing, especially if you want a temple recommend.

Remember the question asked in a temple worthiness interview: “Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow men?”

Lou Martherus

Lou, I suspect that because church members who pirate don’t actually see the ones they’re cheating, they rationalize that they aren’t “dealing” with those people.  Human beings are good at convincing themselves that wrong isn’t wrong.

On watching pirated movies and using copied music, the last I heard it is illegal.  

Intellectual property is property just like a car or a home.  Many people do not seem to grasp that if we copy a movie and watch it we are legally and morally stealing.  If sheet music says”no copying” on it in giant red letters, do not copy it even if the Young Women president tells you to copy it.  (This came up years ago when I was teaching the Beehives and one of the Laurels had copied sheet music.)  

I pointed out that the big red letters saying “do not copy,” meant, “do not copy.”  It turned out the Young Women president had told her it was ok.  Please do not check your brains at the door, people.  

In that same stake we were sewing fleece for the needy.  The copyrighted sewing patterns were being copied right and left.  I contacted the designer and got us official permission, then contacted the stake to let them know they now had permission to do what they had been doing illegally.  

Often we can get permission when we ask.

I want everyone to know that I think the RIAA is evil and the record companies are ripping us all off with high download prices and not giving enough to the artists, but stealing will not right this wrong.  Copying software is stealing, if you don’t like Apple and Microsoft, turn to Ubuntu and use free shareware.  All over the world people are doing this because software companies are over-charging.

When we buy a CD or movie, we can copy it for our own use in our own home and keep the original. Copying the original, then selling the CD, is stealing.



If “Thou Shalt not Steal” gets revoked we can all start stealing, but until then it is a commandment, not a suggestion.

Now I do want to add that we should not assume the movie someone else is watching early is stolen.  I know people in the movie industry and have had access to movies early before through fully legitimate means.  We must not jump to conclusions about other people’s behavior.

Trying to be Honest in Utah

You said, “Copying the original, then selling the CD, is stealing.”  I’ll go a step further and say, “Copying the original, then giving away the CD as a present, is stealing.”  You don’t have to make money off the endeavor to be a thief.

I also like what you said, Trying, about not assuming that what people watch is stolen.  I fully agree with you that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about people’s behavior.  But I also think it’s the responsibility of the person who is shown a suspicious movie to ask how the person got the movie before it has been released to the general public.  I’m sure the people who acquired the movie honestly would not mind answering that question.

I don’t understand the question, because there really shouldn’t be a question about obtaining or viewing pirated movies.  The Twelfth Article of Faith sets forth the attitude of Latter-day Saints towards pirated movies (among a whole host of other things):  “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” 

If purchase of a movie that has been illegally made (i.e. “pirated”) breaks the law, then, according to Article of Faith 12, we believe in not purchasing or, I would submit as a related legal/moral issue, watching it.  The behavior we choose to pursue when confronted either the opportunity to purchase or view what we know are pirated movies speaks to our honesty, integrity and righteousness.

Purchasing a pirated movie is purchasing stolen goods.  It’s the same with copyrighted pictures, documents, or music.  Using, reproducing, or distributing those things without the written consent of the owner of the copyright is stealing, robbing the copyright owner of his just rewards for what he/she has created.  Stealing.  Plain and simple. 

What bothers me the most about this question is that the teen knew the movie was pirated but stayed anyway, and that once she found out what had happened, Mom didn’t immediately take a stand with regard to how she/the Church feels about this as both a legal and moral issue.  

Alvin R. Dyer, an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said the following:

“Charles E. Whittaker, associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, now retired, makes this significant statement concerning conditions in America, and what is said of America in this regard may be rightly true in other lands where constituted law exists for the protection of the people. Says he:

” ‘ “Obey the good laws, but breach the bad ones.”  Who is to be the umpire that will determine which are good and which are bad? Does not that cliché invite men to violate the laws they do not like? If we allow men to obey only the laws they like will we not be trading ordered liberty for chaos? Though we have, as we justifiably and proudly boast, a Government of laws and not of men, we must recognize that even this virtue can be lost, and that no man is protected by the law unless all are equally bound by and required to obey it. [emphasis mine]…’ ”  (Alvin R. Dyer, Conference Report, October 1965, pp. 16-20)

Yes.  We have our agency and can exercise it as we see fit.  But, I have always believed that if we want the blessings of the Lord on our lives, on our children and their lives, on the things we do, we have to live by the Lord’s rules.  And the Lord, through His prophet, declared that we believe, that it is a tenet of our faith — a doctrine, if you will — of the Church, that we will/do uphold the law. 

I can’t believe this is even an issue, or that we are discussing it.  If it’s illegal, it’s wrong.  And, if we are offered the chance to view, receive, listen to, or copy something illegally obtained, then I submit that morally, we are obligated to object, refuse, and, where fitting, leave.  “We believe … in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.”  All law.  Whether we think it’s right or not, until it is changed, our obligation is to obey. 

YoMamma’s LDS 

Amen to that, YoMamma’s!  Thanks for sending the quote, too.  I always like confirmation from outside sources, particularly when the outside sources are general authorities speaking in conference.

The next letter is a personal letter for “Movie Snob,” whose letter started this topic last week:

Being honest is being honest and being honest applies to all things, no matter how big or small they may seem. My mom once used a clerk’s pen to write a check in a store. When she was finished she started to put the pen in her purse, then she caught herself and returned it to the clerk, jokingly saying, “Oops! I don’t want to go to hell for a pen!”  But I knew she wasn’t really joking and that statement has come to mind many times in my life.

What are we willing to compromise ourselves for? Most of us would never shoplift or steal a car, but we might be willing to keep too much change or watch a pirated movie. Is it possible to be just a little bit dishonest? Even if we put aside the effect pirated material has on the livelihood of that material’s creator, distributor, and others, there still remains the fact that it’s illegal. It’s dishonest, even if you aren’t likely to get caught.

As a past Young Women president, the Young Women value of Integrity comes to mind. Maybe this is an opportunity for your daughter to do some personal progress in that value and learn something lasting from this movie experience. 

We teach our youth to “have the courage to walk out” of a questionable movie, but maybe we haven’t prepared them for something like this, especially when it is in another LDS home. That alone would leave most youth with no cause to question the activity, which is why I wouldn’t peg your daughter as having compromised her honesty. Now that she is aware, however, she may have that choice to make in the future, which makes it something that can easily become a positive moment in which a life lesson, or two, is learned.

P.S. That was a good “Seinfeld” episode!

Unwilling to Compromise

Thanks for your letter, Unwilling.  As a Young Women teacher, it never crossed my mind to mention this when we’re talking about integrity.  Next time the subject comes up, you can bet I’ll take your advice.

Hi! I’ve tried twice to add a comment on your meridian article, but it doesn’t seem to register. Here’s what I have to say on the topic:

I’m surprised that members of the Church even need to ask this question!  We have a temple recommend question: “Are you honest in all your dealings with your fellowmen?” One of the Articles of Faith says, “We believe in being honest.

” Another says, “We believe in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.”

It’s simple — just don’t go there! Rent it, buy it, or don’t see it! I promise you won’t die if you miss out on a movie or two or three!

Jill Antuar

Chermside Ward

Brisbane Queensland Australia 

As stinky as most movies are these days, Jill, I think most of us could miss out on more than two or three movies without suffering at all.  I haven’t been to a movie in years because of mobility issues, and there are very few of them I’m sorry I’ve missed.  (I would like to see The Help, but I can wait until it comes on television.)

It’s a matter of right and wrong, honest or dishonest.  It is flat out wrong and dishonest, and Latter-day Saints should know that.  There is no way to justify stealing things that do not belong to you.

Black and White

Well said, Black and White.  It’s a pretty clear-cut issue.

My child decided to download a pirated movie her freshman year at college, and she fried her hard drive during the download. It was a hard way to learn that breaking a law can give an immediate punishment.

My child may not have thought pirating movies was such a big deal if it was not for the computer virus, and we would never have known about the problem. I learned that movie pirating is so easy to find.  The child learned a lesson and no lecture was needed.

Mary Ellen Gilbert

I love that story, Mary Ellen!  If doing the wrong thing were always followed by immediate punishment like that, we’d have a whole lot less wrongdoing in the world.

What part of "Thou shalt not steal" do these people not understand?

Not only is it a ticket to the Telestial Kingdom, but the parents are also opening themselves up to a huge legal liability (as in $100,000 or more in damages and the potential for some jail time).  And even if they don't get hit for fines/damages, they'll still be out some serious legal expenses that their homeowner's insurance policy won't cover.

Hollywood is itching to find and prosecute these thieves.

Just because "everybody" does it, doesn't mean they can escape. Besides, what are the parents teaching their and their neighbors'/friends' children?  Then there's the question of unauthorized(i.e., not paid for) "public performance" issue.  That's why movie DVDs/videos must never be shown in church facilities (church policy).

The Internet has bred a generation of people who think everything is or should be free.  They also think they should be able to get rich with little or no effort.

That's not to say Hollywood and media aren't guilty of undermining and destroying society's morals — they are.  Very guilty.  And the Lord will call them to account in due time, just as he will call to account church members (and others outside the Church) on Judgment Day for pirated movies.

Besides, how many movies today — really — are worth watching?  I got rid of TV at my house.  Why spend money every month for a worthless waste of time?  Comedy that isn't funny.  "Reality" shows have nothing to do with living a productive, useful, happy life.

You're accountable for what you do with time.  Make life so interesting you don't have time for the stuff that lines the pockets of media corporations who don't care about your eternal future.Each has his or her agency to choose good from evil.  But wrong choices don't include the "agency" to escape inevitable punishment exacted by the Law of Justice.  The Book of Mormon makes very clear the impossibility of robbing Justice.s don't include the "agency" to escape inevitable punishment exacted by the Law of Justice.  The Book of Mormon makes very clear the impossibility of robbing Justice.

Not Entitled

What?  No TV in your house?  You don’t like reality shows?  I know television is a waste of time, but I look for any excuse to sit in one place with my husband’s arm around me.  Bring on “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race”! 

To each his own.

When a film is on release at the cinema, my children are not allowed to watch that film on the internet because it is stealing.  They are depriving the cinema of the price of a ticket. When the film is relatively old I allow them to watch a film via the net, but only from a legal site.

In the UK, copyright holders are beginning to get a bit sniffy about the whole thing. If a household watches pirated movies on the net and access to an illegal site is traced to them a nasty letter from a lawyer may be sent threatening a fine. ISPs can be instructed to slow down the connection speed to a particular home or to cut the service altogether.

Copyright holders have only recently started trying to try this course of action, but they run into difficulty because there could be multiple internet users in one house, making it impossible to identify the individual culprit.  Nevertheless, measures are being put into place to discourage youth from watching pirated films. As yet we have not yet seen someone cut off or fined, but the lawyers are working on it.

I always prefer the cinema experience to watching something on the net.  It is a good social activity that could die out if its trade is not protected.

“Are you honest with your fellowman?” is a question well worth keeping in mind.

Vim in the UK

I’m glad to hear, Vim, that steps toward prosecution are being taken in the UK.  Maybe we’ll be seeing that in the USA in the near future.

The whole sum of this topic is: Do I or do I not support an illegal activity? Apply the 12th Article of Faith and you have your answer. That’s so easy it could be classified a “Primary-age answer.”

When I was younger I used to tape-record my friends’ music albums, but the 12th Article of Faith convinced me I was doing wrong, and I eventually threw them away.

Close to us is a store that sells pre-owned DVDs and CDs at 25-75% the original price. If there’s a movie or album I don’t want to spend a lot on, I watch for it there. If there’s a musician whose political or lifestyle agenda I do not wish to support but I want their music, I buy them from the pre-owned store, where that performer doesn’t get any of my money. Heaven bless the pre-owned store!

Now, when it comes to copying church materials, any simple visit to the Church website to view manuals shows a person that the Church wants us to download and copy! It saves the Church tons of our tithing money if they can post a PDF of a manual and we download for our use. They even have the manuals set up so you can email a lesson to the person substituting for you. But this is the important part: the Church as the copyright holder has given us permission to do so. Permission is the key.

Bruce T. Forbes
Kearns UT

Bruce, I really, really like the idea of buying the products of artists whose lifestyles you don’t want to support second-hand so they don’t get the money.

That is most excellent!

No, I’m not a pirate and I teach my family to be non-pirates as well.

I did want to mention one other way a person could obtain a copy of movies that are currently in theaters. I have a good LDS friend whose brother reviews movies for the Academy Awards. They send him copies of movies as they are released in theaters. I don’t know if it is legal for him to share, but I know that my friend receives these movies, occasionally, from her brother. Just my two cents.

Sherrie in California

Thanks for mentioning that legal copies of movies are sometimes made available to Academy Awards movie reviewers, Sherrie.  I did a quick internet search to see if it’s kosher to pass along these movies to other and couldn’t find anything.  Your friend’s brother certainly has a right to see the films, but I’m not sure about anyone else and I’m not making a judgment call one way or the other.

It’s Wrong!  Bottom line.  You can rationalize all you want, but it’s against the law to do it and therefore against the law to use it. 

I would add printed music to the list.  Often times I see ward choir directors who think it’s okay to copy music because it’s for church and it would be expensive to buy copies of the music for each member of the choir.  Sorry.  That’s illegal too. 

These are the areas where it can feel like it just isn’t a big deal, and that’s exactly where Satan gets us.  It’s when we allow ourselves to fudge a little here and a little there that it keeps us from living lives of integrity and eventually it will bite us in the butt.  It’s not worth what it does to us spiritually.

Adamant in Layton, Utah

You’re so right, Adamant.  Choir directors, if you’re using illegal copies of music, please do without!

Most pirated DVD aren’t usually produced in ones and twos. They are produced in the thousands, and the packaging often looks genuine. You can be sure that whoever you buy them from, you are only one to two steps removed from some very serious and nasty criminals.  There is big money in it.

I don’t like the price I need to pay to buy films legally — whether as a DVD or as a download. But I like even less the idea that I am lining the pockets of criminals.

Alex Barclay

Chorley Lancs, UK

You’re right, Alex.  There’s big money in pirated movies.  Sometimes it’s hard to know whether a movie is a legitimate copy or a pirated one because the packaging looks so real.  If it comes from Asia and it’s available when the movie is still in the theaters or has just left the theaters, beware!  A lot of the movies that are available on eBay and from other legitimate places aren’t legitimate copies.

Well, do I ever have strong feelings about that topic!  I am totally against any form of making copies of movies, music, or any other copyrighted materials. 

How can we sincerely answer the question, “Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow beings?” if we make or use illegal copies? 

One might argue that whatever it is we are copying without permission has been out for years, and one little copy will not hurt.  Let me give you an example.  A friend of mine had three cassette tapes (does that tell you I’m ancient?) of a guy who had served his mission in my homeland, and went on to be a motivational speaker of some renown.  I was so excited to hear his voice!

This was a time when I literally had no money to spend, so I justified myself in copying the tapes, thinking that these tapes had been around for a long time.  Well, somehow I got them all mixed up and they made absolutely no sense at all.

Ironic, isn’t it?  I got no use out of them.  That was the one and only time I knowingly did illegal copying.  I ignored my integrity and moral standards, and this I will never forget.  No excuse that we can come up with is worth that.


I know how easy it is to get disgusted and give up, Canada.  I did it myself, once.

Clark and I are big fans of “Survivor,” but started watching it after it was several seasons old.  We wanted to see the old seasons and purchased them on Amazon, but for some reason there was no “Survivor 3: Africa” on Amazon. 

Finally I gave up and bought a copy on eBay.  When it arrived, it was obviously a homemade copy.  I wrote an irate letter to the person who had sold the copy to me.  She responded that she was a widow trying to make ends meet (“Please don’t turn me in!”), but that I should know that CBS had never released “Survivor 3: Africa” and that any copy I bought was going to be bootlegged.

I wrote a review on Amazon that was published on May 14, 2007, saying how disgusted I was that I couldn’t see this season.  (It had been scheduled for release in February of 2007, but it still wasn’t available.)  I wrote, “Because I have a strong respect for copyright laws, I have never watched the pirated copy I have right here in my house. But when CBS keeps putting off the release date, the temptation grows stronger.”

I put myself on a list to be notified when the show was available, and I waited.  And waited.  Finally, in the summer of 2010, we gave up and watched the bootlegged copy.  I said at the time that if it ever officially came out I would buy it and make an honest woman of myself.

Just today, doing research for this answer, I learned that the official version of “Survivor 3: Africa” was released in October of 2010.  No, I was never notified.  And yes, as soon as I get a job and an income I will buy the set officially, so I can square myself with the malingering CBS network. 

Here’s something you can take to the bank:  Whenever you can clear your conscience for $27.99, that’s a good investment.

I know most things in life are not just black and white, but pirating music, movies, and the like is black and white for me. When one counsels with the bishop and stake presidency to get a temple recommend, one of the questions asked is, “Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow men?” Making copies of movies for yourself that you did not buy is stealing.

Most people I know rent a movie from Redbox or a video store and if they like the movie, they just burn a copy for themselves. Is this wrong? I think it is! Watching movies online that have just been released in theaters is stealing as well. It’s wrong! That’s all there is to it.

I am not sure how people, LDS or otherwise, can justify basically taking something that does not belong to them, but I sure know a lot of people that do it. For me and my own conscience, I’d rather spend the $15-20 on the movie if I really liked it than not go to the Celestial Kingdom.


Stealing is wrong. I wonder how others may feel, but they’ll never change my mind. I figure you can pay the price for the movie and be honest and have integrity in this life, or you can “pay the price” in the next life. No movie is ever worth the price you will pay if you don’t get to be together forever.  


What a way to put it, Cheree!  I can’t argue with a word you said.

Although the illegal part of pirating a movie is the action of placing that movie on the internet in the first place, righteous, ethical people should not take advantage of that illegal act. That’s the same as knowlingly taking money from a bank robber. Just because he robbed the bank, not you, does not make it right for you to take the money from him. That kind of makes you an accessory.

The same is true of music. However, providing handouts in church (or in a school classroom) of copyrighted material is a different story. The “fair use” exemption section of the copyright law would allow for a certain amount of this. You would not, of course, hand out a copy of a complete book (it would cost more to make the copy than to buy the book, anyway), but copies of a chart or a section from an article pertaining to the lesson would fall under that fair use exemption, for “non-profit, educational purposes” (Section 107 of the Copyright Law). 

Sharee Hughes

Thanks for the clarification, Sharee.  It has been so many years since I took communications law in college that most of these things weren’t covered because the technology hadn’t been invented yet. 

The only thing I would add to what you wrote is that it’s my understanding that if you use a chart or part of a book for “non-profit, educational purposes,” the text must be attributed to the author somewhere in the chart or handout.

Here’s our last letter on the topic.  It’s a long one but I saved it for last because it’s well worth reading:

Great subject! When my older children, several years ago, started bringing home copied CDs of music that friends (yes, even LDS friends) had given them, I decided that I needed to “clean house.” My wife and I had a family home evening that talked about piracy, copyright laws, and intellectual property. This also involved me cutting up, in front of my children, several illegally copied CDs that I had in my collection to show them that I believed that piracy was wrong. My children got it and from then on politely thanked their friends for the gesture, but would not accept illegally copied items.

There are several problems that make it difficult for people to know what is right and what is wrong. First, people don’t understand copyright laws. Second, we confuse an actual item with an artist’s “intellectual property.” Third, we live in a society that is infused with a sense of entitlement. Fourth, we automatically assume that because we can do something, that must mean it’s OK — “If it were illegal, they would have figured out a way to stop it, right?” — think Grooveshark and associated sites.

First (and I am not a lawyer so this doesn’t constitute legal advice), copyright typically happens as soon as a work is created. If the work was created after 1/1/1978, the duration lasts for the author’s life, plus an additional 70 years. When you buy a CD, or a DVD, or a Blu-Ray, or download music legally off of the Internet, you do not have the right to distribute that material without the copyright owner’s consent. Period.

How many times have we said, “Oh, I’ll just make a copy of this music for ward choir and when we’re done with the performance I’ll destroy it.” If you don’t have permission, that’s a crime, pure and simple. An analogy would be saying that you’ll “borrow” your neighbor’s car (his property) and return it when you’re done.

Second, when you purchase a DVD, for example, you own the physical medium, but not the “intangible” property on the DVD. Copyright law typically makes concessions for personal copies. If I don’t want to have my kids damage the expensive version of the DVD watching it, I can typically make a copy for my personal use. However, making multiple copies for your nieces and nephews is illegal. Just because something is intangible doesn’t mean it’s not real.

Third, the Internet has changed how we regard information and who owns it. Too often, we feel that all information should be free and in the public domain if it’s on the Internet. We feel offended that we have to pay for things when we should just be allowed to download them for free. Some of us even revel in the thought of “sticking it to the man” when we manage to get a copy of something that nobody else has.

To use previous examples, I’m not entitled to use my neighbors’ car, even if they leave it in their driveway with the keys in it.  Like it or not, creative artists are entitled to compensation for their creations. If we value something, we should be willing to pay for the right of enjoyment. It’s amazing to me that people who would be horrified if I walked into a store and took something from off the shelf would think nothing of my giving them a copy of illegally downloaded music.

Fourth, today’s technology has made it extremely difficult to police piracy. When I was young, piracy meant that you had to make something. An LP record had to be recreated. A video tape had to be copied. Now, the Internet makes piracy as easy as sharing files on a P2P site.

My oldest son and I have had several discussions about Grooveshark (just one example). While Grooveshark has licensing deals with some music organizations and does have a policy of not allowing illegal uploads, it’s also highly ineffective at policing. Millions of songs are uploaded by users who are breaking copyright law. And, the songs that are uploaded that aren’t part of Grooveshark’s licensing deal are not legal.

Now, when you listen to those songs, the RIAA is not going to come after you because it’s just not worth their time. However, just because you can get away with something doesn’t mean it’s right (again, if I borrow the neighbor’s car and get it back without them knowing, did I really commit a crime?).

So, what’s a user to do? The original poster’s case is cut and dried. That movie was illegal and showing it was a crime. And let’s make sure we always call it a crime — if you’re doing it, you should feel uncomfortable; you’re breaking the law.

It may seem that there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to this. If you get on a website that allows you to stream music to your computer, is it legal? Usually, a quick search of the Internet will tell you whether a site is legal or not. But ultimately, if you’re even having the conversation with yourself, you should check.

We should never feel entitled to somebody else’s property, and we should always be willing to pay for product.

After all, if it were our livelihood, isn’t that how we would like it?


Kaysville, Utah 

What a stellar letter, Robert!  You laid it out in such a way that even a teenager can’t miss the point.  Parents, if you don’t know what to say to your kids about piracy, show ‘em this letter — or even this whole column.  The readers had a lot of good things to say, and their letters should convince anyone.

Okay, people.  I think this topic has been beautifully covered.  Let’s start a new subject next time.  I don’t know if there will be a column next Monday because I’m being substitute editor for Meridian sporadically this next month and don’t know if I’ll have time to do a column too, but I’ll work on it!  Alas, there are only so many hours in the day.

Until next time — Kathy

“The only thing worth stealing is a kiss from a sleeping child.”

Joe Houldsworth

Want more Kathryn H. Kidd?  Visit to read her blog, get free stuff, and participate in the new Ask Madame Kathy forum.