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Should I Replace Stolen Music Free?

Knight Kiplinger answers questions about downloading music and sharing a bonus.

My car was stolen, and it contained several dozen CDs, the loss of which wasn't covered by my insurance. Because this music was already paid for, would it be legal -- or ethical -- to download the songs for free from a music-sharing Web site?

That's a tough one. The law doesn't care why you need to replace your music, and it would dictate that you pay the modest per-song fees that reputable Web sites charge. As a publisher and defender of intellectual-property rights, I recommend this. However, I could see your making an ethical exception just this once, by using a free source for replacing your stolen music.

I received a $5,000 bonus from my employer for recruiting a new hire, who is a relative of mine. Should I share some of my bonus with him, and if so, how much? I don't think he has an expectation of this and hasn't raised the issue with me.

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It's very thoughtful of you to consider sharing some of your bonus, though it's not necessary -- your relative's reward was getting a new job through your referral. Half of the after-tax amount would be very generous; less would be fine, too. I'm sure it will be a pleasant surprise for your relative and one he will surely appreciate.

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