JLaw R' Israel Schneider
In our highly advanced technological age, the duplication of original works of authorship has become almost effortless. While at one time, manuscripts or books had to be copied laboriously by hand, it is now possible within several minutes to produce high quality reproductions of entire works. Similarly, audio tapes, videos, and computer programs can all be reproduced quickly, effectively, and cheaply. The purpose of this essay is to explore the halachic implications of making or using unauthorized duplications and to inquire if there are precedents which could serve as grounds for the protection of an author's or creator's proprietary rights.
Halachic literature is rich in detailing the rights - and limitations - of an author to his original work. Not surprisingly, the People of the Book were constantly involved in determining what type of protection could be granted to an author or publisher. [...]