I have been downloading movies from the Internet. In the country where I live, copyright laws are not enforced, but I don’t know if it is wrong in the eyes of God. I have heard that downloading movies is pirating, and that is obviously wrong and forbidden. I know that no one sees what I am doing, but my conscience tells me that it is wrong. I would like some Biblical counsel from you.

Dear Friend,

You ask a great question that will be of interest to many people. You use the word “pirating,” which has the connotation of stealing something that you can then sell. Many people mistakenly believe that it is acceptable to download a movie as long as they do not sell it or share it with anyone else.

Of course, there are some videos and even movies on the Internet that are legal to download and share. Those who sell advertising may even want those specific videos to be shared so that a connected product can be advertised and promoted. However, there are other movies that have specific warnings at the beginning that make it very easy to see that they are illegal to download. Those movies are the property of the companies who produced them. Taking the movies by downloading them is stealing.

You say that in your country copyright laws are not enforced. However, if a movie has warnings at the beginning, it is illegal to download it even if the people who do so will never be prosecuted for it in their country.

You say that your conscience is bothering you even though no one sees what you are doing. Your conscience is telling you that it doesn’t matter if anyone sees you, nor does it matter if you will ever be prosecuted. If you knowingly take something that is not yours, it is wrong, no matter what the details are.

You ask for Biblical counsel. The Scriptures obviously don’t give specifics having to do with online movies, because those didn’t exist when the books of the Bible were written. However, the Scriptures are very clear about stealing and obeying laws. One of the Ten Commandments tells us that stealing is breaking God’s law. (1)

The Apostle Paul taught that systems of government and the authorities that represent them have been established by God. (2) That doesn’t mean that every person in authority makes the right choices, nor that every government is honest and ethical. We all know of cases where government and its representatives are corrupt.

However, it does mean that God intends for us to obey the laws made by our governments unless those laws are contrary to Biblical teaching. For Paul went on to say, “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” (3)

We wish you the best,

1 Ex 20:15
2 Ro 13:1
3 Ro 13:5