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Unread 02-25-2012, 08:55 PM   #1
FlyingAxe
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Copyright in Judaism?

I was wondering whether the idea of copyright (as it exists today in the Western society) is supported by Halacha and Chassidus.

1. First, I am not talking about protection of other people's livelihood (which could be a motivation from restricting copying and reselling intellectual works). I am talking about the concept of the author of a book owning a dvar ruchnii -- the information in the book. (For simplicity sake, let's say it's not a work of Torah, but an "original" concept -- e.g., a novel.)


2. From Halachic point of view my question is regarding making a kinyan on a dvar ruchnii. Is it possible, and what is the mechanism?

3. From Chassidic point of view, my question is regarding the nature of information. Is the information represented by a physical object only contained in the object itself, or is it a separate entity that exists in a separate realm (for instance, Oilam HaYetzira)?

The distinction is important, since in the first case, it seems I am selling the object together with its tzura. In the second case, I may still claim ownership of the tzura (the "ideal" object as it exists in its own realm), to which the physical object is merely a way of access (it's like selling telescopes through which you can look at my mountain; you own the telescopes; I retain the ownership of the mountain).

Also, if I strike a lot of medals with the same image of the flower on them, does each physical metal "link" the the same tzura in the upper worlds, or does each have its own tzura?

4. What is the essence of the concept of property from Chassidic/Halachic/Jewish-philosophical point of view? I.e., if all property is Hashem's why then am I given an authority over "my" object, to the exclusion of others' use of it (without my permission). Does this reason apply to dvarim ruchniim? The reason I am differentiating them is that dvarim ruchniim are non-scarce. Your use of my idea does not diminish my use of it. (Similarly, if you look at my tree and enjoy the sight, you have not taken anything from me.) In that case, what is justification of my "owning" of the idea?


I would appreciate the links, but I would also appreciate the summaries/theses of what the links say. (I.e., the answer: "Yes, you can own dvar ruchnii because of X, Y, Z, see sources A, B, C" is preferred.)

Thanks...
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Unread 02-26-2012, 06:21 PM   #2
Torah613
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[I don't know how "Chassidus" found its way into a dscussion that should be halachik, but whatever].
There are books/seforim about this. There is an English book called "Copyright in Jewish Law" (http://www.zbermanbooks.com/Page.asp...oductID=158965). Google also should bring up lots of articles.
There are also many tshuvos (and controversy) about the printings of the various Shas'im - Vilna vs Slavita, which probably is relevant.
There also should be tshuvos if there is "stealing" on Divrei Tora (I faintly recall a Rashba about it).
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Unread 02-26-2012, 06:48 PM   #3
FlyingAxe
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Chassidus found its way into it because Chassidus can provide an insight into what information is.

I did a Google search, and most arguments seem to come from Dina D'Malchusa Dina or a version of hasagas gvul. There seems to be little support for the concept that a creator of an idea can own the idea itself.
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Unread 02-26-2012, 07:47 PM   #4
Torah613
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Nu nu.
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Unread 02-26-2012, 07:59 PM   #5
FlyingAxe
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There is another argument that goes like this:

Quote:
Rabbi Nechemia Zalman Goldberg advances a novel theory to serve as the basis for the proprietary rights of an author, based upon the legal concept of "Shiur" (retention). It is possible for a seller to sell an item to a purchaser, yet to retain certain aspects of ownership for himself. For example, the Talmud speaks of one who sells an animal, yet retains for himself its shearings and offspring. The purchaser is entitled to do with the animal whatever he wishes. Nevertheless, the purchaser's ownership is limited. In regard to shearings and offspring, the animal is considered as if it still belongs to the seller.

Based on this principle, Rabbi Goldberg posits that one who sells a cassette tape can stipulate that the purchaser is entitled to all usages of the tape but one - the right to copy it. Since this right was retained by the seller, the purchaser who copies the tape without the consent of the seller has committed an act of theft, and, as such, is obliged to make restitution to the owner of the reproduction rights of the tape -- namely, the seller.

Rabbi Goldberg writes, though, that this approach has two major limitations. Firstly, this line of reasoning is valid only if it is specifically stipulated that the sale is of a limited nature, with all rights of copying retained by the seller. If, however, the seller merely states that reproduction or copying of the work is prohibited, without specifying that the scope of the sale is limited, it follows that one who copies without consent is not guilty of theft and is not liable to make restitution to the owner. Secondly, this approach protects only against the primary reproduction of an original work. However, once a reproduction has been made, the new copy certainly cannot be construed as belonging partially to the seller. Consequently, one who copies a copy is certainly not guilty of theft, and by the same token, not liable to make restitution. Rabbi Goldberg does concede, however, that even in these two situations, grounds for copyright protection may be found in the other principles which have already been discussed.
This doesn't really make sense. If I come into your house without permission and take a picture of your couch -- have I committed theft? I have done something without your permission, and you should be able to stop me, but what aveira have I committed? What property have I stolen from you that it should be theft?

Or, imagine that I steal an axe from you. I use it to chop wood. While doing so, I did not damage your axe. Then I return the axe to you. Do I owe you any damages?
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Unread 02-26-2012, 10:50 PM   #6
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