hi, i have a dilemma project for school that I would really appreciate an answer to for my project. thanks!

“The new “Star Wars” movie just came out in theatres. I wasn’t able to go see it on opening night so I decided to look it up online. As I was searching I came across a Torrent website with a perfectly good file of the movie. Would it be ok to download this file and watch it or should I wait to see it in theatres another day.”

Answer:

Many authorities maintain that movies or music that are copyrighted, and which are protected under the law, may not be downloaded for free.

This can be because of principle ownership of copyright, and according to others it derives from additional halachic principles, such as deriving benefit at another’s loss, the obligation to abide by the laws of the land, and others. The question of actual “theft” will depend on the respective rationale; many authorities do not consider copyright as being actual “ownership,” making it hard to speak of “theft” per se.

Yet, as noted most authorities are stringent, but some are lenient. One should certainly be stringent where the owner is Jewish.

 

Sources:

One of the principle sources that addresses this question is Noda Biyehuda(Tinyana, Choshen Mishpat, no. 24). Although Divrei Malkiel (vol. 3, no. 157) severely limits the application of Noda Biyehuda’s ruling in a modern sense of intangible property, many poskim have written or issued rulings that uphold copyright legislation and extend it, by a number of halachic mechanisms (including laws of benefit, the principle of dina demalchusah, a prohibition of utilizing another’s expenditure at his loss, and others), to questions of intangibles. See alsoTechumin(vol. 6) which also discusses a similar case. See also torahlive.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Halachahbrura.pdf for an extensive discussion of the sources.

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