What is theft, and what falls under the Seventh Commandment?
Theft is the unlawful appropriation of goods belonging to another. Appropriating someone else’s goods unjustly is a sin against the Seventh Commandment even if the act cannot be indicted under civil law. What is unjust in God’s sight is unjust. The Seventh Commandment, of course, applies not only to stealing, but also to the unfair withholding of a just wage, the keeping of found items that one could give back, and defrauding in general. The Seventh Commandment also pertains to the following: setting employees to work in inhumane conditions, not abiding by contracts into which one has entered, wasting profits without any consideration for social obligations, artificially driving prices up or down, endangering the jobs of colleagues for whom one is responsible, bribery and corruption, misleading dependent coworkers into illegal actions, doing shoddy work or demanding inappropriate remuneration, wasting or negligently managing public property, counterfeiting or falsifying accounting records, or tax evasion.
What rules apply to intellectual property?
The misappropriation of intellectual property is theft also. Not just plagiarism is theft. The theft of intellectual property begins with copying other students’ work in school, continues in the illegal taking of materials from the Internet, applies to the making of unauthorized copies or trafficking in pirated copies in various media, and extends to business dealings in stolen concepts and ideas. Every acquisition of someone else’s intellectual property demands the free consent and appropriate remuneration of the author or inventor.