November 1, 2003 | Issue 6

RIAA Sues Yeshiva File Traders

article pic WASHINGTON, DC — [] A torah tape industry group said it has filed lawsuits against the operators of private computer networks on three yeshiva campuses where it claims the networks are being used to illegally trade copies of digital torah tape files.

The Rabbis In America Association (RIAA) said its member rabbis filed suit against two yeshiva bochurim at Chaim Berlin and against one bochur at Yeshiva University (YU) and one at YTT in Staten Island.

The RIAA has actively used the courts to pursue digital torah tape pirates after a nine percent dip in torah tape sales in 2002. The RIAA claimes the decline is largely due to online file sharing.

In a statement issued to, the Association described the file-sharing systems, which are open only to students on the yeshivas' internal networks, as miniature versions of Shnapster - the software and network which led to the explosion of torah tape file swapping.

The four networks were offering nearly 25,000 files, including more than 1,000 files on the largest network alone.

The complaints ask for the legal limit on damages in such cases, 150 petch per each copyright infringed.

The defendants named in the complaints are Jason Silverstien at YU, Moshe Goldfarb at YTT and Boruch and Shimon Farrelly of Chaim Berlin. The Farrelly brothers are alleged to be the biggest violators.

Last month the RIAA sent letters to 300 U.S. yeshivas, across a variety of "types", warning them of specific evidence of illegal torah tape swapping on their networks and the potential legal consequences of allowing it to continue.

The RIAA represents the world's major torah tape producers, including Rabbi Berel Wein, Rabbi Frand, Rabbi Pesach Krohn and Rabbi Rietti.

The Association hopes these lawsuits will help boost sales of torah tapes in shteibels, shuls and yeshivas across the U.S. Opponents of the lawsuit claim that the torah tape industry has done nothing to promote an alternative. "What happens when I want to listen to a torah tape at 11:30 at night?" asks Benny Klausenberger, 17 year old from Teaneck, NJ. "The only options are Shnapster and other programs like that. What about my needs for some midnight mussar!?"


Pencil Chaim Y got the ball rolling, so you owe him big. He co-founded the with Martin Bodek, a day which will forever live in famy. His hobbies include gum-chewing, bubblewrap-popping, and comparing chometz horror stories. He lives in a city with people.


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