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Copying Books

QUESTION 16: COPYING TEXTBOOKS

My son asked me for $7 for his High School. When I asked why, he said the school made full copies of three textbooks for one of his courses. Was the school right in copying those books?

RABBI BELSKY'S ANSWER

No. The Yeshiva shouldn't be doing it. Rabbi Moshe Feinstien zt"l said that whenever a person makes copies from a book without paying, he is stealing from the publisher. The school is supposed to buy the books for the students. The book is being sold by a publisher, and copying it is taking away their profit. Reb Moshe was very firm about this.

QUESTION

If the Yeshiva was wrong, but doesn't want to throw the copies out that they already made, is my son allowed to use them?

RABBI BELSKY

He should see if he can buy another copy of the book.

QUESTION

What if I can't buy other copies in time for my son to use them in school? Let's say it takes two weeks to order our own copies?

RABBI BELSKY

Temporarily you could use perhaps just a page. He could copy the page he needs.

QUESTION

The assignment is to actually go through all three of the books and come up with certain ideas. It's not just a few pages.

RABBI BELSKY

Three full books?

QUESTION

Yes. But what if he might not be able to them in the next two weeks, which is when the assignment is due, and he really has to read the material?

RABBI BELSKY

Is it a secular book?

QUESTION

Economics books.

RABBI BELSKY

Maybe he can take them out of the library.

QUESTION

How would you characterize the whole situation?

RABBI BELSKY

It shouldn't be done. Taking something that is being marketed and making copies? It shouldn't be done.

QUESTION 17: BUYING A BOOK THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN COPIED

I was told that a certain edition of the Talmud had photocopied the Soncino edition, and was guilty of copyright infringement. I have no idea as to the validity of those claims. Should I investigate these claims before buying this other version (it is less expensive), and if the claims turn out to have some basis, should I refrain from buying this less expensive version?

RABBI BELSKY

If there is an announcement signed by legitimate authoritative Rabbonim (Rabbis) that states that you're not allowed to use it, then you're not allowed to use it. But you're not obligated to make an investigation on your own, just because a rumor is circulating that something is wrong. It's up to the offended party to make the Jewish public aware. And if he doesn't make the public aware -- is the public defendant supposed to investigate every little thing?

QUESTION

Let's say I happened to do a bit of investigation and found out that the rumor has some basis. Should I refrain from buying the less expensive version?

RABBI BELSKY

Yes.


NEXT WEEK'S QUESTION 18: SHOULD YOU BELIEVE A STREET VENDOR WHO CLAIM'S HE'S SELLING STOLEN GOODS?

My son asked me for $7 for his High School. When I asked why, he said the school made full copies of three textbooks for one of his courses. Was the school right in copying those books?

NEXT WEEK'S QUESTION 17: BUYING A BOOK THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN COPIED

Once I passed a table where a person was selling sweaters for $3 a piece. I asked him how they could be so cheap, and he said that they were stolen, how else could he get them so cheap? How do I know if he's telling the truth, or if he's lying just to make them seem like a 'better buy'? If he may be telling the truth, or if I don't know if he's telling the truth, am I prohibited from buying the sweaters? Should I ask beforehand how a person got his goods if he's selling them at such low prices, and how much credibility should I give to his answer?

NEXT WEEEK'S QUESTION 19: ABOUT JAYWALKING

Is it permissible to jaywalk and to walk against a red light even though it is technically illegal?

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