Say, for instance, that I've previously bought a set of DVDs (for example, the workout program P90x, which contains several DVDs in a set), and that I am currently in a different country and have not brought the DVDs with me- does the fact that I've already paid for the item remove any problem of subsequently illegally downloading the videos?

I'm aware that the halachic issue of intellectual property and pirating software is already hazy and complex at best, but would such a case remove all issues of actual "loss" to the owner? One would have already bought the item, and thus one is not causing the company any real loss.

2 Answers 2


When you purchase a DVD like you are describing, there is a 'terms of use' agreement, a 'terms and conditions' of sale and multiple copyrights (often in compliance with different jurisdictions around the globe). They all must be agreed to in order to purchase the product legally. There are also follow up warnings of those agreements and conditions that come with the actual product and are often in the opening or closing credits of the DVDs.

See the following examples from Beachbody, the owners of P90X and many other fitness products.



As with any legal contract (terms of agreement and acquisition through 'kinyan') between two parties, you would be required according to halacha to honor the terms of the agreement you entered into because you have formed a type of partnership. This relates to the laws of partnership as found in Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, 176-181 and elsewhere.

Looking at these links alone, any copying or reproduction is forbidden without the prior written consent by Beachbody. So only in terms of your illegal download, you would be prohibited.

This does not address the subject of the individual or organization who is actually furnishing the illegal downloads is in violation of whatever laws may apply.

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    The binding of the terms and conditions are an open question as fair use allows the digitization and use of media on other devices (or did when I studied the topic in law school). The question is DRM circumvention, which is not theft. Does halakha forbid security circumvention is a different question. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 14:44
  • @ShamanSTK I can't speak to what the state of the civil law is in regard to "Fair Use". Particularly in the context of the numerous international agreements that have been made concerning this subject lately (like TPP), it would likely be even more restrictive, rather than less restrictive. But the simple idea is that a condition of purchase agreed to by the buyer is that any and all copying or reproduction must have the prior written consent of the seller. Without that consent, it would be forbidden. It has nothing to do with the subject of DRM circumvention. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 14:59
  • I think I would generally agree with the sentiment of this post - that one should abide by the contract they "signed" with the original purchase. To be clear, I don't see anything morally wrong with retrieving the content you've already paid for, using method different from the original payment, in the case that the seller can't reasonably expect to make two sales (if that was common, you'd be more likely to have taken the DVDs with you). However, given that it's a part of the terms of service, you're already a party to a contract that, halachikally, you shouldn't break.
    – Jake
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 17:33
  • @YaacovDeane the question boils down to 1) is it stealing, or 2) is it breach of contract. It's not stealing per fair use, and the question of the validity of the implicit contract is not clear under civil law. This isn't an explicit contract like you see in Talmud, it's a contract that may or may not have formed automatically under operation of law. If the contract is valid, your analysis could be too. If it's not, then it's a derekh eres question of violating the DMCA for drm circumvention. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 18:29
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    As far as dina d'malchusa dina, that may very well also not apply to these conditions; see SoftMan Products Co. v. Adobe Systems Inc. and Step-Saver Data Systems, Inc. v. Wyse Technology, which suggest that these sort of conditions may not be legally valid.
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 2:18

As you said, this is a very interesting field where there aren't many organized halachot (though this is improving with time).

Anyway, here is an interesting summary of halachot for this issue, with many sources. See especially section 2.9, about a person who purchased a CD, and wants to make a copy of it for personal use (e.g. backup). Even though this is generally forbidden (therefore I would say it is the same as downloading it), he can do so anyway, because when he purchased it he also purchased the rights for personal use.

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