Tradition articles are downloadable from the Tradition Online website, which prohibits further distribution of the materials. On each download page there is the following warning:

It is strictly forbidden for both subscribers and article purchasers to share article downloads with others.

On what basis does the magazine (or the RCA, which publishes the magazine) retain such a right to prohibit any type of sharing? Surely even Copyright Law allows the purchaser of a published work to share it with others.

To clarify, my question is whether that statement is:

  1. reflective of law and therefore Halachah;
  2. effective of Halachah (like a sale 'Al Tenai, or a Neder, perhaps?); or
  3. meaningless.
  • 1
    One (secular, not necessarily halachic) issue could be the difference between giving or lending (your physical magazine) and distributing (copying) a digital item. In the latter case you increase the number of copies in circulation and don't lose access yourself. Whether any of that matters in a specifically-Jewish context I don't know, but perhaps an answer will address this if so. Jul 25, 2012 at 15:34
  • @MonicaCellio, if one is not allowed to make photocopies to teach a class (eg.) because of copyright law, what function does the warning serve? It does not effect the law (such that without the warning the law is inapplicable), AFAIK. Does it do so in Halachah?
    – Seth J
    Jul 25, 2012 at 15:36
  • I thought that the issue is the infringement on the market place. If I share my download with you, you receive the benefit of the content without having to pay for that content. My pool of potential consumers is reduced and yet the consumers get the benefit of my work. One could reword or summarize but not share the actual, copyrighted content.
    – rosends
    Jul 25, 2012 at 15:39
  • Closely related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/9473/…
    – Isaac Moses
    Jul 25, 2012 at 15:48
  • 1
    @ezra for the distribution case, yes. I'm not aware of secular laws that would restrict giving or lending your own copy away (such that you lose access, I mean), though the world's a big place so there might be a jurisdiction like that somewhere. Where I live, if I buy a book I'm free to give, lend, or sell it to somebody else, so the question is whether a publisher-specified restriction like this could have the force of law. Sounds like a terms-of-use dispute to me. Oct 17, 2017 at 21:21

2 Answers 2


The Mahrsham addresses the case of someone selling a property with a restriction as to its use. He discusses whether Kinyan could be restricted by the seller so that the purchaser receives less than full ownership. But that would apply to a physical object, not on-line access.

I don’t believe that the RCA meant that you couldn’t share the download (once it’s printed) with another person. “Sharing article download” probably refers to giving someone your log in & password info, or printing multiple copies for distribution.

  • 1
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya Herman! Thanks for the answer. Consider editing in a source for the Maharsham.
    – mevaqesh
    Nov 17, 2017 at 4:52

This question is awfully similar to the famous one concerning copying and sharing music albums. There is very little written on the subject, and I heard in the name of many Rabbanim that it is absolutely allowed. However, I spoke to Rabbis Yisroel Belsky זצ"ל and Hershel Brody שליט"א, and they both insisted that it is assur. When I tried to discuss the theory behind it they both shrugged me off insisting it is theft. It would seem that on paper there is little to go by to prohibit the sharing of intellectual property, but many Rabbanim still insist it must not be done.

  • "it" is allowed apparently but forbidden according to those rabbis: you mean copying and sharing music albums? or the articles in our question? Your pronoun's antecedent is not clear to me.
    – msh210
    Dec 17, 2017 at 4:36

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