Friday, December 16, 2011

Internet Piracy

You shall not steal. (Exodus 20:15 NAS)

Cloud ComputingUsing applications on the Internet is probably not something new to most of us. We frequently access, download, store, and share files over the Internet via computers, mobile phones, tablets, and other devices. All these are possible because of personal cloud computing.

Personal cloud refers to the adoption of Internet computing for personal use. In computer network diagrams, the Internet is symbolized by a cloud, hence the term ‘cloud computing.’ Cloud computing relates to the applications and files we access and operate over the Internet. These applications and files are usually stored at a remote location, accessible on the fly through mobile, hand-held, or other computing devices. The remote location may be our home, a data center, free space on the Web, or anywhere else connected to a storage device, such as a computer, server, or network attached storage, with network access to the Internet. We can upload and download data, music, videos, and other media files to and from this remote location, as well as share them with friends, family and colleagues anywhere, anytime.

Today, with cloud-enabled devices like iPhone®, iPad®, Android®, and other smart phones, sharing and accessing files stored in remote places is easy and convenient. Such convenience, however, can give rise to a certain danger. We tend to share files with others without much thought, even those we are unsure if they belong to the public domain, or are copyrighted.

According to an article 'Piracy: Legal vs. Illegal Downloading' by the Federal Trade Commission at KnowWhereTheyGo.org, "downloading copyrighted material without expressed permission, (that is, without paying for the works), is illegal." However, “downloading music and movies from the Internet, under certain circumstances, is legal.”

Too often we have taken for granted and assumed all things on the Web are free. We frequently download ‘free’ things from the Internet, and distribute them to others via file sharing and e-mailing. Such an act is not much different from theft, if the materials we send are copyrighted. Storing and sharing things that are not ours is stealing, and can affect the livelihood of the rightful owners.

Unlike the dangers involving the upload and download of materials over the Internet, there is something of spiritual equivalence we can safely do that is quite the opposite. We can pray to God, and be assured our prayers rise up before Him (Revelation 8:4). That’s an ‘upload’ we can count on God to hear! We can receive God’s overflowing blessings poured down on us that will keep us having all sufficiency in everything, if we willingly give to God’s work (Malachi 3:10; 2 Corinthians 9:7-8). That’s a ‘download’ full of blessings!

So, what should we do? We should not steal (Exodus 20:15). This means we should always ensure our uploading and downloading over the Internet or the cloud is legal. Never take for granted to think everything available on the Internet is free, or share materials we are unsure of their intellectual property rights. Give willingly to God’s work; bring our prayers to God; and expect a down pouring of God’s blessings from the clouds of heaven.

Receive our prayers O God as we bring them to You, and pour down Your blessings on us as we willingly give to Your work. Forgive us Lord for sometimes taking for granted to assume everything is proper and good without verifying and paying for what is due. Grant us wisdom Lord to know how to differentiate between free sharing and stealing, that we may not unwittingly commit a wrong and deprive others of their livelihood.

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