Ask a Priest

Is it a sin to download music from YouTube?

Mar 11, 2016

Hello Father,

I am a fan of music and so when songs were freely available on YouTube, I would use a YouTube downloader and download them. I have started to question whether what I was doing was stealing or not. I recently read an article that said downloading from YouTube is illegal because some content creators on the site get paid by the views they receive.

While a lot of music on the site is not uploaded by the original artist or by people getting paid through their views, I question whether copyright of the music or some other issue would make it stealing. I have also been told that listening to downloaded music where you have the choice to hear it online, is no different than listening to the same music on YouTube.

So I am feeling somewhat confused by points on both sides wanted a definitive answer. Is downloading music on YouTube a sin (stealing)?

Thanks Father.

Asked at 11:43 am on March 11th 2016

Hi Antonio, a basic point in moral theology is that, unless the laws of the country we’re living in are clearly against natural or divine law, they are binding on us in conscience.

Unfortunately, I’m not a lawyer, and the law on intellectual and artistic property is developing in most countries. Speaking as a person unqualified in this area, it seems to me if I downloaded music for my own listening from YouTube, it would be alright. But if I downloaded it and distributed it to others, that seems like an infringement of copyright unless it were clearly indicated the music was in the public domain. (I’m working on my own experience of buying cheap DVDs of films for about $5, which make it clear they’re for personal use at home and not for public showing.) Hope that’s a help, I’ve everything to learn here about the law in this area. Very best, Fr Brendan

Replied at 01:27 am on March 17th 2016

You can use my music. It is legal , free and royalty-free music for Youtube videos.

Download free from

Replied at 08:50 am on August 13th 2018