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Buying Counterfeit Items

Is it permitted  to buy counterfeit items in any circumstances? For instance, in a country where it is widespread, and one would not be able to purchase the real item. Is this allowed?


It is not permitted to buy counterfeit items, which were produced illegally, from a person involved in their production. However, after the counterfeit goods have reached the market, and are being sold by ordinary tradesmen, it would be permitted to buy them.


If we treat (illegal) counterfeit goods as stolen property, it would be prohibited to buy them from the “thief” himself, for this would be considered taking part in the act of theft, and supporting the thief. Yet, it would be permitted to but them from somebody who bought them from the thief. There is no clear concensus on the status of counterfeit goods, and this would depend on the complex questions of copyright in halachah. Yet, according to many authorities copyright law is binding in Torah law, and the goods would therefore be considered “stolen.”

We have not discussed possible distinctions between Jews and non-Jews.

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