Is it genevah to capture streaming audio or video?

For example, a website allows you to listen to various soundtracks in a streaming format. That means so long as you have the web page open to the website, you will be able to listen to the music through an audio player embedded in the webpage. However you are unable to directly download the music file to your computer for listening to while you are not looking at the website.

There are two ways to circumvent this arrangement and save the music to your computer.

1) You can record the music coming out of your computer’s sound card. Therefore even though you are not actually doing anything else with the website other than its itended use, which is listening to the music while having the webpage open, you will still end up with an audio file of the music being streamed from the website becuase you effectively recorded the music being played by your computer while the webpage was open.

2) You can use software specifically designed to capture the sound data while the music file is being streamed to your computer. In this case you are capturing the exact information sent to your computer except that you redirect it from your speakers (effectively) to a program that will compile it back into the sound file it started off as. In the first case, what you end up with will not be an exact replica of the original sound file on the website’s webserver and it’s quality will likely be inferior to the original track.

I am noteh to say that (1) is definitely OK becuase you are entitled to capture the sound your own computer is making regardless of the reason it is making it, whereas (2) may be questionable becuase you are missapropriating the data being sent to your computer for a reason other than it was sent.

Answer:

The first question one must ask is if the website has rights to the material. If the website doesn’t have rights to the material, then of course the question will be an infringement of the artist’s rights, and not the site’s.

One way or another, as you note, the first method seems to be permitted. It is certainly permitted to bring a tape recorder, or digital recording device, and record music playing from a computer or audio device. In the same sense, if you are recording from the sound card, this does not appear to be a problem.

If a program is effectively “cracking” the site, then this will be an infringement of their rights (or the artist’s rights), provided that the site or the artist are makpid (particular) about this (which can be found in the site regulations), and therefore this should not be done. This is true for non-Jewish and the more so for Jewish artists/sites.

This answer assumes that copyright law is binding according to Torah law. There is a broad debate on the subject, and we have mentioned some sources here.

Best wishes.

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