Did you know there is a commandment that is considered ethical to break in very select situations? The seventh commandment, “You Shall Not Steal” is just as important as any of the other commandments, and it would compromise the whole set to say that 10% of the whole does not hold any weight. In almost all instances, taking what does not belong to you is wrong, but if normal measures fail and an opportunity to use something that belongs to someone else for the sake of survival and wellbeing of you or someone you care for is at stake, it is possible that your intentions are not immoral. Although, it’s important to note that this is not common.
The internet has completely changed the nature of stealing, and sadly, has made it far too common. The very nature of the internet and social media promotes a culture of sharing what we enjoy. This is one of my favorite parts of technology because it keeps me informed and points out things that I would have likely never heard of otherwise.
Bootleg copies of media, illegal streaming of restricted content, and using media under restricted rights all seem innocent enough, but in reality, this takes what belongs to others without permission or can violate the rights of people or groups that do not wish to share works.
As an artist, designer, and content creator, the internet has been the most successful way for me to share my work with friends, clients, and partners in a way that wouldn’t have even been dreamed of decades ago. The catch is that I have also seen countless occasions of people that steal images without giving credit. In a few extreme cases, I have even seen people crop out copyright credits and watermarks of images.
Yes, these were mainly Christians, in fact most of them were using them for honorable means. Does that still make it wrong? Probably.
- For legal reasons, sometimes they pay for rights to use elements that are non-transferable.
- For moral reasons, sometimes models or places don’t want to be associated with the cause or information that using the image.
- For practical reasons, it takes resources and effort to get and create high quality art and images. It’s rude not to acknowledge that.
In all honesty, I’m not perfect and have made many mistakes when it comes to copyright and respecting the rights of others. As time has passed, I’ve become increasingly sensitive to how much this can affect those of us that work hard to create works and content.
This takes intention, but it’s an important and essential part of anyone that wishes to create or share content. For the sake of respecting others and their property, Christians should work even hard to be strong examples of these best practices.
- Always check rights and permissions.
- If you can’t find any information, ask. It’s always best to ask permission first when it comes to rights, ignorance is not an excuse
- Remember that Copyright last different lengths based on the death of the author. Even if you use a piece that is a few hundred years old, it’s best to at least mention the credit.
- Use royalty free works and assets for your project. There are many free options, but paying a fair price is just.
- Creative Commons is also a great alternative if you are willing to give credit.
Tips for Content Creators
Michael Hyatt has a old but great post about how to protect your content better.