How Jewish Law Came to Recognize Copyright

Aug. 23 2016

In From Maimonides to Microsoft: The Jewish Law of Copyright since the Birth of Print, Neil Netanel explains how the invention of the printing press led rabbinic scholars to devise a concept of intellectual property, and how this concept has developed in halakhic thinking since then. Roberta Rosenthal Kwall writes:

Netanel’s book . . . demonstrates how the halakhah of copyright has been influenced by historical and cultural factors operating both within and outside the Jewish community. As Netanel tells it, rabbis in Rome issued their first known ban on reprinting books in 1518. In some ways, the earliest bans mirrored the papal bans and secular book privileges then in vogue. (The book privileges allowed recipients a monopoly over the printing and publishing of a book for a designated period of time.) . . .

In fashioning their bans, however, the rabbis . . . drew heavily from traditional Jewish sources. . . . This influence is evident in the first ban’s emphasis on talmudic injunctions against encroaching on another’s livelihood. (The secular book privileges, by way of contrast, emphasized the sovereign’s discretion to reward deserving subjects.) . . .

[Nevertheless], the rabbinic ban represented, according to Netanel, a “bold halakhic innovation.”

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Halakhah, Jewish history, Law, Religion & Holidays

The Attempted Murder of Salman Rushdie Should Render the New Iran Deal Dead in the Water

Aug. 15 2022

On Friday, the Indian-born, Anglo-American novelist Salman Rushdie was repeatedly stabbed and severely wounded while giving a public lecture in western New York. Reports have since emerged—although as yet unverified—that the would-be assassin had been in contact with agents of Iran, whose supreme leaders have repeatedly called on Muslims to murder Rushdie. Meanwhile U.S. and European diplomats are trying to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran. Stephen Daisley comments:

Salman Rushdie’s would-be assassin might have been a lone wolf. He might have had no contact with military or intelligence figures. He might never even have set foot in Tehran. But be in no doubt: he acted, in effect, as an agent of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Under the terms of the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in February 1989, Rushdie “and all those involved in [his novel The Satanic Verses’s] publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death.” Khomeini urged “brave Muslims to kill them quickly wherever they find them so that no one ever again would dare to insult the sanctities of Muslims,” adding: “anyone killed while trying to execute Rushdie would, God willing, be a martyr.”

An American citizen has been the victim of an attempted assassination on American soil by, it appears, another American after decades of the Iranian supreme leader agitating for his murder. No country that is serious about its national security, to say nothing of its national self-worth, can pretend this is some everyday stabbing with no broader political implications.

Those implications relate not only to the attack on Rushdie. . . . In July, a man armed with an AK-47 was arrested outside the Brooklyn home of Masih Alinejad, an Iranian dissident who was also the intended target of an abduction plot last year orchestrated by an Iranian intelligence agent. The cumulative weight of these outrages should render the new Iran deal dead in the water.

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Read more at Spectator

More about: Freedom of Speech, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy