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Supporting an unethical business move

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Rabbi David Sperling

Adar 2, 5781
Question
Hi, One of the singers that I like, had recently had an unfortunate, not so ethical business move pulled on when someone was able to buy the record label that this singer’s songs were recorded under, and now he owns all of the artist’s material, legally. The artist has now basically been robbed of almost every single record they’ve ever produced.... So the only thing the artist can do is re-record all of the albums again under a different name to own their music back essentially. I’ve been wanting to buy some of the early works recorded by this artist for a while, which were made almost 20 years ago, and now that this happened I’m not sure what to do...the new recordings of the old material just don’t sound the same as they did then. But my money would now be going to the person that essentially stole this artist’s material....would it be like me supporting a wrongfully made, unethical business move if I’m aware of what happened yet pay for the album? Is there anything about your money essentially supporting an unethical business move in Halacha?
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Without hearing both sides of a monetary dispute, from the two parties involved, it is forbidden to give a ruling. So, firstly, I am unable to rule whether the artist’s works were really stolen from him, or even if it was dishonest. According to Jewish law, one is not allowed to encourage bad behavior. If buying the music will directly encourage the immoral behavior, then it should be avoided. However, I doubt that this is the case. In general, a person purchasing an item is to far removed from the bad behavior for it to be considered as a direct support. (Unless the person has been put under a boycott, in which case any purchase from them would be seen as direct support). None the less, a person is allowed to choose who they want to buy things from. The choice is yours. The factors that will determine your purchases are many – cost, value, convenience etc, as well as who you want to support – the girl scouts, a local person, a person in need etc. By choosing who you want to buy from you decide who you want to support. Here you may want to buy your music from one person and not another, in order to help someone you think is needy, or not support someone you do not think is worth your support. But this is not an obligation. Blessings.
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