MBD Continues Effort to Curb Rampant Copying of CDs; Matzav Interviews Rabbi Elli Bohm


cdsExclusive interview with the author of the first revised copyright language for Jewish music albums:

Mordechai Ben David, who has long been vocal about people not copying tapes and CDs of Jewish music albums, took his effort up a notch with the release of his new album, Kulam Ahuvim. In the jacket booklet, MBD devotes an entire page detailing that the CD is not being sold, but rather rented, to the buyer. The full text can be seen below and by clicking here.


Matzav.com did some research into the language used on many other Jewish music albums and was led to Rabbi Elli Bohm, author of the renowned Halacha Berurah Publications, who is well-versed in these halachos.

Matzav.com contacted Rabbi Bohm to discuss the recent trend of Jewish music singers changing the standard copyright language on their albums and instead using an alternate language, which, it turns out, was first authored and introduced by Rabbi Bohm himself.

During our exclusive interview today, we asked Rabbi Bohm about his brainchild, how the change came about, and its various halachic ramifications.

Elisha Ferber, Matzav.com: Can you provide an overview of what has taken place?

Rabbi Bohm: I was contacted a few years ago by Rabbi Boruch Levine prior to the release of his first album, Vezakeini. Rabbi Levine was looking for a way to make copying CDs forbidden according to everyone. I told him that although copyright has strong sources in many of the shailos and teshuvos seforim since the advent of the printing press, nonetheless, all the information we have is by drawing parallels to the cases discussed. Since there is no concrete ruling or reasoning in Shulchan Aruch concerning copyright, this has resulted in various opinions being offered concerning copyright.

To the best of my knowledge, most responsible rabbonim, who understand the immense losses incurred by many publishers and producers due to the copying of their products, would never give a blanket heter to copy items. There may be differences of opinion as to why it is assur, but the bottom line is that most rabbonim would say that anything that goes beyond the parameters of normal and fair use of an item is assur.

Nonetheless, Boruch Levine pushed me more, saying that as long as there is a slight reason to permit it, one rov will say that it is mutar and everyone will say they hold like him.

Matzav.com: What was your idea to deal with this problem?

RB: I thought for a moment and told him that I noticed in recent years that Microsoft had added a clause to their copyright, claiming that it is a leasing agreement. Microsoft’s intention in doing so was to give them the ability to file for a much larger charge than just for a breach in international copyright law.

I thought that if Jewish CDs were in fact leased, instead of sold, that would make the issue more severe and there would be no possible heter to copy CDs. Basically, if you don’t own the CD, the seller can stipulate any condition in the lease and you are bound by it. For example, if you leased a car and Toyota stipulated that you cannot drive the car in the state of New York, then, if you do drive the car in the state of New York, you have violated the agreement and you are misusing someone else’s property. That is called stealing.

Matzav.com: How is a lease different than a tenai?

RB: A lease is different than a tenai, because with regard to a tenai, if you break the tenai by copying a CD, the producer must give you back the money you paid and you must give him back the item. Therefore, some people claimed since no one would give you back the money, that demonstrates that the tenai was not meant seriously. A breach in a lease, however, is a violation which does require that the seller return the money and you are nonetheless responsible for misusing his property. Concerning a lease from an akum, it would depend on whether you say, ‘Sho’el shelo midaas havi gazlan‘ by an akum. However, from a Yid, you certainly say it.

Matzav.com: When did you draft the text that is now being widely used?

RB: At the time, I sat down and drafted the following text for Boruch, which he placed on his album. Since then, the well-known producer, Yochi Briskman, has placed this text on all the albums he produces, including those from Yaakov Shwekey and Shloime Daskal.

The text is as follows:

“This CD is being perpetually leased, not sold, to the consumer by Aderet Inc., and is subject to the terms thereof. Any breach in the leasing agreement is forbidden and punishable by law. Aderet Inc. permits full usage of the CD, except actions that facilitate copying it for others.  Additionally, Aderet Inc. absolves the consumer of any damages inflicted to the actual CD. Any misuse of this CD to facilitate copying is bona fide theft according to halacha and civil law in the view of all preeminent poskim.”

Matzav.com: How did you formulate that exact text?

RB: Every word of the text was carefully analyzed. For example, the exemption of any damages inflicted to the actual CD by the consumer was inserted, because otherwise the consumer would be obligated to pay Aderet if the CD broke, the same way you are obligated to pay Toyota if your car gets dented.

We also placed the term “facilitate copying for others” to permit one to make an additional copy for himself for fair personal use, such as to make a mix of several songs or to transfer it to an iPod. The reason why we chose the term “actions that facilitate” was to preclude people from making a copy for themselves and then claiming that since Aderet does not own that second copy, they can just go ahead and give it to their friend and then make another copy for themselves. Therefore, we forbade any initial action that will facilitate giving a copy to someone else.

Matzav.com: Which halachic authority approved the text?

RB: Harav Yisroel Belsky reviewed the text and gave his approval, provided that it’s placed in a prominent place on the CD, such as the back cover, where anyone picking up the CD in the store will see it. An intellectual property attorney reviewed the text and claimed that it would be binding in civil court as well.

During a recent visit to Eretz Yisroel, I had the privilege to sit by the posek hador, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, and discuss numerous topics that will be in a sefer I will be’ezras Hashem be publishing soon. The discussion of the leasing agreement came up and he fully agreed with the concept.

Matzav.com: What is the difference between the text that you wrote, which Yochi Briskman uses on his albums, and the lengthier text which MBD has used on his newest album?

RB: I only quickly glanced at the text on MBD’s album. From a superficial reading, the only difference seems to be that he is stipulating a rental term – e.g. 20 years – which renews itself. I wrote in my text that it is a perpetual lease. The concept of a perpetual lease is accepted by halacha as well as civil law.

Thank you.

{Elisha Ferber-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. people copy because they want to! Its an easy crime that you can get away with it. Shoplifting you get put in jail. Here no one will know – so they steal!

  2. Mr. Lakewooder (comment 2) you have a very low view of people. Would anyone who copies a CD eat treif if no one was around ? would they turn on a light on shabbos if no one was home – of course not. The reason why the copy cd’s is because they think its not assur .

  3. They know its assur – its just that people are very lax when it comes to stealing. that is why people cheat in business all the time. they view offenses man against man is not that bad. that is why they speak loshon hara too.

  4. Rabbi Bohm: When is the Halacha Berurah book coming out. I heard you are publishing with Artscroll. Is that true? Are you going to start writing new issues again once the book comes out?

  5. What about the copyright violations on the part of these singers when they copy goishe songs (notwithstanding the negative ruchnius affect of these songs)?

  6. WE MUST PUT AN END TO COPYING. IPODS are the biggest killer to the music industry.

    Rabbonim must speak up. People are losing so much money.

  7. I say this whole recent “leasing” trend is one big “chucha v’itlula”. Consider the CD with the hebrew inscription: “???? ????? ??? ???????” while the english droned on about the “lease”.

    The Producers/Stores don’t imagine for a second that they are leasing, not selling the product, and therefore don’t avoid selling, oops leasing CDs to children for whom “leases” don’t legally exist.

    Torah does not provide protection for Spiritual inventions and no highfalutin sounding gibberish will change that.

  8. read the article the difference between a tnai and a lease.

    the stores are agents of the producers. the producers are leasing it. they are the ones putting on the text.

    it is not a spiritual invention. it is plain simple geneiva. if you disagree don’t just rant. say some lomdus!!!

  9. why should you have to throw out the cd? im not following your logic. the cd is yours and your are allowed to make copies for personal use.

    not faaaaaaaaaarshteying vot u r saying!

  10. The storeowner has no intention to lease and neither does the buyer. Most of them don’t know about this funny text written somewhere on the CD. For both of them it’s a sale.

    On the other hand, most people who didn’t care about copyright, won’t care about this either. So if the clause works, MBD is making making more people to sin (according to those who hold copyright doesn’t work). And yes, I’m serious.

  11. Shimon it is not the store owner who is leasing it is the producer. if you are such a meiuvin in the legalities how can Microsoft then win in court? let some lawyer just say hey i read a comment on a blog from mr shimon who says that since “The storeowner has no intention to lease and neither does the buyer. Most of them don’t know about this funny text written somewhere on the CD. For both of them it’s a sale.” The answer is that it does work and the store owner is an agent of the producer who gets a commission.

    as far as causing people to be oiver – 99% of the poskim always held it was assur and now they are just making it 100%.

    are you telling me that a store owner who put fruits in front of his grocery and is makpid that no one should steal is doing an avaira? of course not you are allowed to take all measures to make sure people dont steal your stuff!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111

  12. yes that is what he meant . rav eliyashuv held that it is assur.

    as far as the stores returning the leftover cds i guess it depends on whatever agreement they made. they could technically makup with the stores that as agents they will allow them to markup the lease whatever they want and keep the differnce – this is the same as what anchor leasing, wheels to lease does – they get a price from honda for 220 a month and charge the person 225. then honda allows them to keep the five bucks per month. i guess they can stipulate too that the store can be an agent only if he keeps the leftover cds.


  14. Do you have to pay sales tax on a lease?

    Is there anywhere that the leaser and leasee are signing the contract. Try moving into a house and then the bank tells you, actually it just a lease and the lease papers are in a glass jar part of the concrete of the basement.

    Is there any contract between the store and the producers that they are acting just as agents of a lease?

    I think there are still way too many loopholes in this, even though, it really is assur to copy tapes to share.

  15. dont be ridiculous the store owners are buying the cds not acting a agents in a lease, i’m going to ask eichlers next time i buy a cd. if it looks like a sale, and both people involved think it’s a sale, it a sale, or a mekach ta’os. this arrangement is a joke.

    and guess what, if it’s a lease the is less genaiva involved as the owner himself knew there was a reasonable chance his property would be misused, and did it anyways. and no i’m not going to argue over this, it’s called hamafkir nichasav.

  16. The rental agreement is only binding on the original purchaser of the CD. If someone else obtains the CD (i.e. he found a lost CD, or some other way he came into possession of it), he is NOT bound to the rental agreement.

  17. are you a rov? i guess not because you are the furtherst from a lamden.

    if i find a leased toyota am i allowed to smash it? drive it? there is a mitzva of hashivas avaida. even if its not yours you are still bound by the lease.

    now if there is no siman – normally you are allowed to keep it. but now since it is a lease -even if you dont know who the lessse is- you have to return it to MBD since he owns it and you know its his. now he may hold onto it until the lessee identifies himself to him that he lost it.

    but you surely cannot keep it and its geneiva to use it. however, if it was a sale then , mbd does not own it – the lessee has no siman – so you can keep it. but not in the case of a lease.

  18. This is a joke both according to halacha and secular law. Any secular court would characterize this as a sale. Simply calling it a perpetual lease when it has none of the characteristics of a lease is a sham that would not be recognized by any secular court in the U.S. as a lease. Additionally, no court would give any credence to self serving terms that a seller puts into the packaging of a product, even if it is on the outside back cover. The comparison between a software license and a lease shows a complete lack of understanding of the technical differences between a license (which is not a property interest at all) and a lease. Finally, every purchase of a CD already includes a “perpetual license” – even before Rabbi Bohm came up with this idea. So this creation of this perpetual lease fiction is actually completely redundant. Either halacha recognizes the restrictions of that license or it doesn’t recognize the restrictions of his sham perpetual lease either. Every purchase of a CD includes both a sale (of the physical media) and a license (of the right to use the music). You do not own the music or the right to use the music except as permitted by the license. For those of you with the holier than thou comments comparing violating copyright law to eating treif, please note that the license you get when you buy a CD is limited to personal use. It does not permit you to play it in public such as playing it on the loud speaker in a camp, playing music at a public melave malka, in a restaurant, etc. Every time you replay your wedding video on which your photographer included unlicensed music you are violating an issur that is no different that eating chazir. For those of you with your heads screwed on half straight and who have nothing better to do with your lives – please enjoy watching your wedding video.

    Lastly, I will note that Rabbi Bohm’s perpetual lease, while ill thought out, was at least reasonable. MBD’s version is completely piggish as it doesn’t even allow you to create a back-up of his CD which tend to not last more than a month or two without scratches (let alone 20-40 years).

  19. you make no sense in your whole megila. Microsoft has a leasing agreement which is upheld by the court of law. That is different than their license agreement. Their leasing agreement is to the use of the cd for an individual. Their license agreement gives the lease a license to be used by a few individuals.

    Their lease is upheld by courts regardless of if the stores view it as a sale and not a lease.


    If you sign your name to a contract that you have no clue what is written in it – it is still binding.

    But your right that it is better for the stores and people to know this. That is what Rabbi Bohm quotes Rabbi Belsky as saying.

    Hopefully, it is brought to light – as this is just a new process – and within a short time everyone will know.

    Then even you Mr. anonymous would agree. But for now it still his the courts ruling in favor of Microsoft against your small headed ramble.

  20. my rebbi said thats its ok if you copy it because the singer is selling it al daas that people will copy it so it is 100 percent ok
    my rabbis name is rabbi shmuel munkis of brooklyn

  21. Do you really mean it, that we should not be watching our wedding videos? According to what I understand from your comment, it would make no difference if watching it privately or with others, as the music recorded does not belong to the me, and I myself have no right listening to it.

    Did you mean this sincerely? I wasn’t sure from your tone.


  22. The real question in my mind is that when the singers and the record companies file their taxes, do they count all the income in the year the CD was “sold”, or do they break it up over the course of the “lease”?

    I am not an accountant, but wouldn’t a lease have special accounting rules that say the income needs to be counted over the full term of the lease? If they do count all the income in the year it was “sold”, then even they are admitting that it was really sold, not leased.

  23. I found the following Q&A on http://www.HalachaForToday.com and I thought it relevant to share with everyone here in this discussion:

    123)Q: I want to know if its against the halacha to copy music from other people. Some people claim its not, since you’re not actually stealing something.

    A: Firstly, according to Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal and other Poskim (including Rav Shmuel Wosner Shlita, Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg Shlita and Rav Yisroel Belsky Shlita) , you are prohibited from copying any item that has been created by someone else, if that person is selling it. This would apply to jewelry, art, Sefarim…and copying Torah or music tapes as well. The reason is that doing so will cause the creator of the item to lose sales, and thus lose money due to your action and is Gezeilah (See Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 4 Siman 40:19)

    Therefore, many of today’s Poskim pasken that if you bought the tape, CD or music download and you want to make an additional copy for yourself (let’s say to keep one at home and one in the car) it would be permitted, as most people don’t, and wouldn’t, buy two copies, and making the second copy for yourself is not causing the creator to lose a sale. But to copy someone else’s CD for your own use is prohibited.

    The fact that a song is an “intellectual creation” makes no difference, and one who steals it is guilty of the sin of stealing. This is especially true if the music CD in question is specifically sold on this condition (as most are today) which in most cases can withhold certain “rights” from the buyer, thus one cannot claim that “I bought it, and it is now mine to with as I please, including copying etc.)

    Furthermore when there are copyright laws in effect which prohibit the copying of the music, it would also be prohibited Halachically based on the concept of “Dina D’Malchusa Dina- that a Jew must obey the civil laws of the host country he/she resides in” (See Shach Yoreh Deah 165:8)

    Although certain Rabbanim have ruled that even for personal use (as a second copy) is prohibited, one may rely on the above Poskim and indeed make a copy for personal use. However, one who relies on “Heterim” to initially copy a music CD or download is probably transgressing a “D’Oraisa” of Geneiva. (Is it really worth becoming a thief to save $14.99?)


  24. funny how all the singers tell us not to copy when its really not stealing just not yashrus!the singers are soo worried about ppl stealing lets open their tax returns and see how honest they are

  25. Mbd should not be talking about copyright because his song yidden is a German song about genghis Kahn and daddy dear was also not orriginally mbd song. Mbd is a very nice caring individual but not all of his songs were orriginally made for purpose of Jewish music

  26. What has tax returns got to do with stealing CD’S? However they all take each others ideas and turn it in to their own. All of them do including writers I have seen it over and over and over again. That is why there are so many Self help books out their so many millions of
    short personal stories and so forth. The only thing that is original is TORAH from Sinia. The one that Hashem gave to Mosha Rabbanu

  27. Interestingly enough, if the agreement works and these CD’s are leased, under the terms of the agreement if an individual would get injured by the actual physical disc they would be able to sue the manufacturer for damages.

    Also, to get around it, just send in a minor to buy the CD… their contracts are not valid.

    Besides, for the text of the agreement to be enforceable it needs to be what a reasonable person buying this product would expect the agreement to contain or the clause won’t stand in a court of law.

  28. This sounds like a case of dina dmchalsa dina.

    What do the American laws say on copying music, and what do the israeli laws say about copying music?

    Any knoledgable lawyers out there who can answer this?

  29. Whatever someone is meant to earn is decreed on Rosh Hashono and no one can take that away from you. So if you produce music cd’s and sell them to earn a living, then all the copying of cd’s will not take away from your income. I doubt very much that so many copies are being made to sell or to give away that the producers are actually losing money. If I buy a cd, and I want one for my car or to put it on my ipod, then I do so. If a friend wants to borrow my cd and make a copy, I don’t think it is wrong. Parnoso comes from Shomayim.

  30. If a friend wants to borrow my cd and make a copy, I don’t think it is wrong” to # 42 why do you think it is ok. I imagine you have coherent reason, please share.

  31. #41 if parnassa comes from shamayim, can I open your wallet take your credit card and start buying items for myself on it claiming “parnassa comes from shamayim” don’ t worry whatever I spend you’ll get the money mashamayim to pay for it?

    By the way what happens of it’s an old tape out of print for let’s say 25 years,
    Would one be allowed to copy that since he it is no longer being sold and therefore doesn’t make a loss to the original seller?

  32. two questions;
    1 – so if i give the CD as a gift, then the “lease” transfers or not?
    2 – if i damage the CD, they have to give me a new one, right?

  33. did mbd pay royalties to adamo who composed tombe la neige he probably doesnt know where it came from it was given to him in music form by the wife of a very famous rebbe zatzal i was playing it in my car when the reb excitedly told me that she composed the yiddish words to that music i recognis many more tunes with much disappointement did he pay royalties

  34. Rav elyashiv and rav ovadiya yosef recently paskened that dina dmalchusa dinah applies to jewish music! these sily rental arrangesments are a joke

  35. Without trying to say halochoh, by any means, I would like to point out one seeming difference between what Microsoft does and the cd sellers etc. Microsoft makes you sign the agreement before you can use the product, while this is not the case when buying a cd, I do not believe.