Ask an Apostle: Can I stream a pirated movie?

Teresa Coda answers your questions this month.
Catholic Voices

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Q: I often stream pirated movies online when I can’t find another way to watch them. Is this really stealing? 

—Pensive Pirate

A: You are enjoying someone else’s intellectual and creative property in a manner that will provide no compensation to the artists, writers, producers, directors, and actors whose energy and talent brought the film into being. Maybe there are truly no other ways to access the movies you speak of than through pirating, but I would imagine that there are, if you are willing to pay for them. So, yes, I think of choosing the free route as stealing.

That being said, I get it. In an era when accessing a staggering amount content is so incredibly easy—the number of shows and movies we have instantly available to us via whatever streaming service to which we choose to subscribe is vast—it can be hard to find that exact movie that you want unless you subscribe to all of the many streaming platforms. That’s frustrating. Besides, it’s hard to feel too bad for the actors, directors and producers—many of whom are multimillionaires—from whom you are stealing as you sit on your humble sofa after a long week of work trying to watch Ladybird


While the ethics of stealing from the rich can be debated, if you want to stay away from stealing altogether, I wouldn’t pirate. Perhaps you could check your local library for a copy of the DVD, or see if you can access via a digital library platform, such as Hoopla. If you find a particular film hard to come by, you might consult with your librarian to see if the library could purchase the movie. Many libraries have funds earmarked for particular forms of media and welcome title suggestions. 

About the author

Teresa Coda

Teresa Coda works in parish faith formation. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two young daughters.

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