Recently, I was in a church service where there was a prophetic word supposedly from God regarding copyrighted materials. The word paraphrased was “God told me that I was not being blessed because I had illegal copyrighted material in my possession. God told me to destroy all the illegal copyrighted material. I destroyed the materials and later I got a good job. Illegal copying is stealing.”
In this instance, was the prophetic word from God or from a religious spirit?
Let’s look at copyright law. Originally, the founding fathers of this nation wrote the law to restrict copyright only for commercial purposes. In other words, private non-commercial copying was legal. The intent by the founders was to allow copyright holders a reasonable return for their efforts in creating materials. Also, the founding fathers placed a term limit on copyrights of 14 years (Copyright Act of 1790) with 14 year renewals. After 14 years, the copyrighted material would become public domain and could be freely copied.
Since 1790, the copyright laws have changed. In 1831, the copyright term was extended to 28 years with 14 year renewals. In 1909, the term was extended to 28 years with 28 year renewals. In 1976, the copyright term was extended to 75 years or the life of the author plus 50 years. In 1998, the term was extended to 95 to 120 years or the life of the author plus 70 years. In addition, these new laws were applied retroactively to 1923. All materials published prior to 1923 are considered public domain.
This means if you copy any music published prior to 1923, it is not a sin because you are not stealing? If you copy any materials published after 1923, it is a sin because you are stealing?
Copyright law gives the author a legal monopoly granted by the government over the author’s works. This allows the author to charge for their work. This is godly. The Scriptures state,
1Ti 5:18 For the Scripture says, You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain, and again, The laborer is worthy of his hire.
Because copyrights are legal monopolies, it creates a potential for extortion. If the author charges a reasonable amount for their copyrighted works, there is no extortion. If the author charges anything above a reasonable amount, that is extortion which is sin. The Bible states,
Eze 22:12 In you they have accepted bribes to shed blood; you have taken [forbidden] interest and [percentage of] increase, and you have greedily gained from your neighbors by oppression and extortion and have forgotten Me, says the Lord God.
Current copyright laws have allowed greedy businessmen and corrupt politicians and judges to plunder people by legalized extortion.
Are copyright laws God’s law or man’s law? They are man’s law. If it was a sin to copy materials, it would have been a sin in Adam’s day, in Moses’ day, in Jesus’ day. For almost 6000 years, it was not a sin to copy materials. Now that copyright laws exist, is it a sin? Not entirely!
Another approach to this issue is that we need to obey the laws of our nation. We have speed limits set by government which we should obey. There are no speed limits in the Bible. Yet God expects to obey those laws.
However, if the governmental laws contradict the God’s laws, the governmental laws can be ignored in favor of God’s laws. Is there Scripture which overrides copyright law? The Bible states,
2Co 2:17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.
The Amplified Bible says it even better,
2Co 2:17 For we are not, like so many, [like hucksters making a trade of] peddling God’s Word [shortchanging and adulterating the divine message]; but like [men] of sincerity and the purest motive, as [commissioned and sent] by God, we speak [His message] in Christ (the Messiah), in the [very] sight and presence of God.
Since copyrights permit authors to profit from the sale of their works and since God forbids the sale of the Word of God for profit, then copyrights cannot apply to the Word of God. God’s law trumps or overrides copyright law. This includes books, audios, videos, songs or music and all other digital forms of media containing the Word of God.
Why does God forbid the sale of His Word for profit? The Word of God and hence the anointing is not for sale. Money can be used as a barrier to the spread of the gospel. In fact, the Lord told me that copyrights are the most effective technique that satan uses to prohibit the spread of the Word of God in the developed world. Satan steals the Word using copyright laws and their enforcement.
Another example of not profiting from the sale of the Word of God is in the book of 2 Kings:
2Ki 5:26 Elisha said to him, Did not my spirit go with you when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money, garments, olive orchards, vineyards, sheep, oxen, menservants, and maidservants?
2Ki 5:27 Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cleave to you and to your offspring forever. And Gehazi went from his presence a leper as white as snow.
Gehazi accepted gifts from Naaman even when the prophet of God had told Gehazi not to accept anything. The penalty for Gehazi’s rebellion was leprosy for him and his family. The penalty for peddling the Word of God is the curse of Gehazi. This curse needs to be broken by repentance on part of those committing this sin.
To their credit, there are many ministers who do not engage in selling the Word of God for profit. One notable example is T. L. Osborne. He states, “You have a right to copy all of my materials.” (pun).
· That the 5 fold ministers that are peddling the Word of God for profit will repent.
· That the ungodly copyright and patent laws will be repealed or amended to eliminate extortion.
· That satan will not be allowed to steal the Word of God using copyrights.
That this message will be circulated throughout the body of Christ as the Spirit leads.