The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Stealing II

It is dangerous to predict Supreme Court decisions based on oral arguments but published reports of yesterday's arguments on the internet file-sharing case that I recently highlighted suggest that the Court was not sympathetic to the plaintiffs.

It sounded like many of the Justices were reluctant to hold the file sharing systems liable for the copyright infringement of their customers. This would be consistent with the Court's ruling in 1984 that Sony was not liable for the copyright infringement of those who purchased its Betamax system (remember those??!!). In all likelihood, the Court will rule that the file-sharing systems are not liable.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that it remains settled that it is unlawful to download music without paying for it or to copy someone else's CDs. I am still working on obtaining a better understanding of the halachah (including the application of dina d'malchusa dina) and I have heard various opinions.

This presents a very difficult problem for parents whose kids are downloading music for free. It is unlawful and possibly against halacha yet it is incredibly widespread among our kids. Because it is so widespread and so easy, it is difficult even convincing kids that it is wrong. But it is wrong.

I don't know the answer.


  • At 9:04 AM, Blogger The Anti-Semite said…

    Mr. MOC,

    although in general I like to think of myself as an uber-honest, super-straight kind of guy, one who for instance refused any all gov't assistance, including unemployment bebefits & medicaid, even when I really needed it - because the mere though of taking something free was abhorrent to me.

    However, with this issue of downloading music with P2P technology I had no qualms whatsoever. And it was for the simple reason that it took me a good 18 years to assemble a beautiful and impressive LP (vinyl record collection) - I can't even start telling you how beautiful it was. The entire Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy repertoire (LP albums) on inital release including some 1st prints: most of the same (substituting the second-best possible release & prints I could get) for Deep Purple, Budgie, Jethro Tull, Iron Maiden, Gary Moore, Genesis, Uriah Heep, Rainbow, Whitesnake, Horslips, Blue Oyster Cult, Vanilla Fudge, Jeff Beck - the list goes on. Lots of Chick Korea Electric, Dave Weckl, Frank Gambale, Eric Johnson. I had no less than 400 pieces of vinyl for Judas Priest -that was what I call a real collection - all and many many singles & special items LP's from UK, USA, Germany, Holland, Japan, Plus whatever "exotic" stuff I could lay my hands on - Russia, Korea, Yugoslavia, Israel etc. Over a 1000 titles in total.

    Now along comes the CD, and all of this charm is gone. Slowly, LP's are stopped from being prduced - first classical, the jazz, and finally rock too. Turtables become obsolete, stores don't carry LP's anymore, needles & other supplies become scarce. I just wasn't going to replace my collection. I remember when the CD started, my father told me "they're going to kill the LP, I'm pretty sure. But their own technology will kill them as well." Heck, back then people laughed him out, but he averred to be right. So now this was my way of getting back at them. I downloaded everything I wanted via P2P - they couldn't force me to re-buy my entire collection. (even buying only the albums -i.e. no duplicate titles- that would have been many hundreds of dollars.) So in this case I said no to honesty, no to decency, no sir-ee. I made a "din leatsmoi", wrong or right.
    So that is my position.

  • At 9:07 AM, Blogger The Anti-Semite said…

    PS - I'm not sure downloading is illegal. AFAIK, only uploading/sharing is breaking the law.

    the=then [jazz]



    (probably a lot more. sleepy & typing fast - sorry.]


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