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Computer Software and Restricted Music Files


I've recently been doing lots of computer repair. Many times people ask me to install software and/or hardware that will allow them to copy music, movies, etc. Generally, most of the music and movies are copyrighted. The exception being personal home videos, etc. Although I can't say for certain, I'm guessing that they're not asking permission from the recording studios to make mutliple copies to use in their other electronic devices or to give to family & friends.

Am I transgressing the prohibition of theft by assisting them? Most of the time they clearly state their intentions to do this. I do inform them that this is act of theft. My thought was that they are using their free will to transgress, but if I had a gun and someone asked me for it to go kill someone, I surely would not give it to them.

Also what should one do with something one has received from someone else that is suspected of being stolen? For example;

Person A: "Do you have a pen?"
Person B: "Here take this one, I took it from my office. Don't worry, I can get more. People take them all the time."

If you know for sure that they are going to use this to steal, then you are forbidden to assist them in stealing. Since you are not sure though and one should not suspect others of sinning, and since this software can be used for a permissible purpose, you may install this software if it does not need a license or if they pay for the license.
As for taking an object which you know is stolen and by taking the object it not only gives the thief approval for his actions but also encouragement to steal again, it is forbidden.

As for why people do this with computer software, I have no answer, this is their choice and we can only remind them that it is not the proper thing to do.

The fact that many do this and justify themselves does not make it right. And even more so since Microsoft (through its updates) inserts spyware into computers to authenticate the software.

The bottom line is what does it involve in order for a person to fix their problem? If you have to "share" software that does not have a license for more than one computer, then it is improper. It is very possible that a computer technician DID purchase such a license and is allowed to install the software in many computers.

In any case, a person should deal or work with a technician who installs licensed software.

Following the law that someone entrusted with a manuscript may not copy even one letter from it without authorization, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (d. 19'86) prohibits translating book segments without the author’s permission. According to this, it would be forbidden to duplicate software without consent.

Furthermore, the Talmud asserts that whenever a purchaser breaks the conditions of a contract, compensation is payable; indeed, someone who ignores the wishes of the “owner” is termed a “thief.” In a responsum about copying music, the contemporary Torah-law expert Rabbi Zalman Nehemiah Goldberg (the advising authority for volumes 1 and 2 of "Sefer Sheva Mitzvot HaShem" by Rabbi Moshe Weiner) notes that even after the sale, the original owner is entitled to retain some aspects of ownership.

Torah law would thus recognise a software developer’s right to withhold permission to copy the product, and unauthorized duplication and distribution would qualify as a type of theft. Additionally, Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathanson (d. 18'75) argues that “logic” asserts authors’ Torah-law rights to their works. Many responsa suggest that Torah Law forbids software piracy. In any case, Jewish law asserts "dina demalchuta dina", i.e. in financial matters at least, one must defer to the "law of the land." As software copyright is certainly regulated by U.S. law, Torah Law obliges one to adhere to the terms of the purchase agreement.
Rabbi Yitz

Quick question: If I legally pay for music (through iTunes or by purchasing a CD), is it forbidden to make a copy of that music and give it to a friend or family member? Would that be considered stealing from the artist since it is copying and distributing the music for free (even if it is just one copy)? I've done this a couple times, but have immediately felt guilty and unsure about it afterward. I'm pretty sure that I'm in the wrong here, and repentance is in order, correct?
Please see the last two paragraphs of Rabbi Yitz's answer above.
Good day.

Installing/updating the (free-of-charge) computer program "Adobe® Flash® Player" (which I am automatically prompted to update whenever a new version is available) requires me every time to check a box indicating that I have read and accepted an about 8 page Software License Agreement. The agreement is new and may have changed with each new version.
Will I have to comply with Adobe's wishes and read that agreement every time?

To install the new software version, you will have to accept it with the Agreement box checked. By doing so, you are accepting to be legally bound by whatever is in the Agreement contract - *whether or not you have read it* - and THAT is Adobe's essential requirement. Mainly, the contract is that you are agreeing that you will not try to collect restitution from Adobe for any damages that you may incur as a result of downloading, installing and operating their software on your computer, regardless of whether or not their software is defective in any way. You will be legally bound by the contract you accept regardless of whether or not you choose to read it, with the exception of any terms that are legally invalid to the degree that you could get your acceptance of those terms nullified in by a court of law.
I hope you can also answer my questions.

I think this is related. If I have bought pirated DVDs in the past, should I get rid of them now? And if I'm at someone else's house and they are watching pirated DVDs, should I leave the room and not watch it?

If I have an operating system or software installed on my computer in a way that goes against the contract, should I uninstall it? For example, what if I work or used to work for a company, and one of their employees let me install the work version Windows XP or Vista or 7 on my own personal computer? If I then become cognizant of the details of the Noahide laws, should I uninstall it?

Also, if I work at a place where they have a WiFi system but the IT (Information Technology) support team are supposed to keep the password secret for the some purpose, but one of my colleagues finds out the password and shares it, would it be dishonest or wrong for me to use the WiFi system? It would seem like I'm using something without permission.

Your guidance would be appreciated.
Here is the answer received from Rabbi Moshe Weiner, author of "Sheva Mitzvot HaShem" and "The Divine Code":

These types of activities mentioned (acquiring such material by illegal purchases or transfers) are forbidden. But since there is no specific material whose property ownership is claimed by a second party, and it is common knowledge that many software programs and computer disks are used without permission, there is no need for you to get rid of the software files. After it was obtained illegally, it is considered to be like a lost item that any person can take possession of.
Thank you so much for answering my question so succinctly and to the point. I probably would have taken two essays to say the same thing.

Thank you.
If I purchased a piece of software such as Windows 10, then I proceed to remove that software from my machine to place a Linux operating system on it for testing purposes; would it be theft if I obtained the Windows software back on my computer without paying for it again?

Nothing physical is being stolen nor are company profits really being affected since I already paid for it once.

What if I have purchased a CD but its at my parent's home. Can I download that same CD on the internet since I already own it?

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