Ask the Rabbi

  • Halacha
  • Computers and Internet

Copying Music


Rabbi Jonathan Blass

12 Adar 5766
the other questions about copying music were regarding copying c.d’s into other c.d’s. however, i have loaded my c.d’s onto my computer which apparently permitted. i then transferred the copy from the computer onto my mp3/ipod is this permitted? if so, is my sister who shared the payments of the c.d’s who lives in a different country allowed to load the same files on the computer to her own mp3/ipod player?
The general principle that determines whether copying programs, or even books, is permitted is that the purchaser is allowed to use what he has purchased only in ways for which he purchased the rights. Sale of a program or a book leaves the seller with residual rights in the item that has been sold. Loading cds that you purchased on your computer is permitted because of the assumption that the seller gave you rights to do so when you purchased the cd. Similarly, in spite of warnings in books that no part can be copied or reproduced without the express permission of the publisher, someone who copies a page or two for personal use can assume that the publisher has no objection to this use and need not contact the publisher in advance. Regarding your specific question: on the basis of the principle mentioned above, it would seem that two members of the same family who purchased cds could share the music without having to pay an additional sum for the right to do so. This would not be the case, if a large organization - for example, a "music club" - purchased one cd with the dues paid by its thousands of members and then distributed it to each of the members. One would assume that the seller did not sell rights to such a distribution for the price of one cd.
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