Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:55 pm

Do you need to buy it?
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby andre9999 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:08 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:Do you need to buy it?


I don't understand your point.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:12 pm

My point is that you have as much a need to buy a CD as a need to download it. In the end you just want to hear it.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby andre9999 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:22 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:In the end you just want...


So all these arguments about copying versus stealing, or about whether it deprives the seller or not, you need to make those distinctions over "wants"?

The lengths people will go to justify their actions...
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:31 pm

Now it is I that don't understand what you're saying (in the first part).

As for the second part, here's no need for judgement. You can just say why my interpretation of the exception in the vinaya is wrong. As I said, I could be wrong there so why don't you point out where it is wrong?
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby andre9999 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:42 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:Now it is I that don't understand what you're saying (in the first part).

As for the second part, here's no need for judgement. You can just say why my interpretation of the exception in the vinaya is wrong. As I said, I could be wrong there so why don't you point out where it is wrong?


I'm saying that it's probably not an accident that "copying" portion vinaya spoke of food - a need. The Buddha didn't say that if a monk wants some gold and a palace guard isn't authorized to give the king's gold to him, then that's not an offense.

I'm not really judging you or anyone else. Just kind of marveling at the complicated justifications I see on DW sometimes when it comes to "wants". Really seems to miss the point.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not up here on some high horse. I am a greatly flawed person... hence I am not judging you.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:01 pm

Modus.Ponens wrote:If you copy it, you don't deprive the owner.
I disagree. You copy it, so you have the product without paying for it. If you obtained the product legally, by paying for it, the owner would have the money it is worth. So, by copying it you have deprived the owner of the money the product is worth. In the case of record companies, that is the only reason they provide the product for sale in the first place: to make money.

I understand that according to the letter-of-the-law this wasn't considered stealing 2500 years ago, but 2500 years ago I don't think there were record companies releasing music on CD/mp3/whatever to make money. I think the important thing to consider is the spirit of the Dhamma. The music isn't given freely, and copying it deprives the record companies of the money they should make by selling the music. Worldly law calls it stealing. I also think it's stealing.

You don't have to agree with me :)

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby mirco » Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:34 am

Moth wrote:One monk I asked said yes, and wouldn't even take offered software if it wasn't legitimate. Another said it was a type of sharing and did not break the precept. What do you folks think?

Hi Moth,


for me, downloading and using cracked software is taking what is not freely given in terms of stealing.
If sharing and uoloading is even worse, I don't know.

But one has to see why the Buddha has put up the precepts/silas.

For Him, everything was about meditation and showing the fastest and easiest way to Nibbana.
Actions are followed by effects . The actions that are covered by the precepts are those,
that are followed by mental states und feelings, which are hindering the progress in meditation.
So, the first one who is experiencing the effect of taking what is not freely given is the theft's mind.

What is sila? wrote:The 5 basic precepts are guidelines for smoother meditation and a balanced life. Breaking these precepts will lead to difficult meditation and suffering .



Be Well ツ Mirco
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:44 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:I disagree. You copy it, so you have the product without paying for it.


You have the duplicate without hurting the original copy.

Mawkish1983 wrote:If you obtained the product legally, by paying for it, the owner would have the money it is worth. So, by copying it you have deprived the owner of the money the product is worth.


Not paying is not called "depriving money". You are not stealing money, you are simply not adding money to the owner.

If the owner had, lets say, 500K in the bank account, copying a $10 (or whatever it costs) product would still leave the owner with 500K in the bank account.


Mawkish1983 wrote:The music isn't given freely,


Unless it is freely given by someone who first copied it.


Buying or copying music to enjoy the music is instance of lobha - and in that sense, both are akusala.



here is interesting question:

Would freely giving copies of that copy to others be considered dāna (generosity)?
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby mirco » Wed Mar 02, 2011 4:38 am

Alex123 wrote:If the owner had, lets say, 500K in the bank account, copying a $10 (or whatever it costs) product would still leave the owner with 500K in the bank account.


Hi Alex,

if it's copyrighted, the law says one has to pay for it.

Best Regards, Mirco :-)
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby mirco » Wed Mar 02, 2011 4:48 am

Alex123 wrote:Would freely giving copies of that copy to others be considered dāna (generosity)?


Hi Alex,

The Blessed Buddha explained the treasure of generosity like this:
When a disciple of the Noble Ones whose mind and
mentality is all cleared of disgracing miserliness,
living at home, is freely generous and open-handed,
delighting in being magnanimous,
responsive to every request and,
is enjoying the giving of any alms.
Such is this treasure called generosity.
AN VII 6


The Generosity of Giving,
The Kindness in Speech,
The Benefit of Service,
The Impartiality of treating all Alike,
These 4 threads of Selfless Sympathy,
Upholds this world, like the axle do the cart!
AN II 32


Giving food, one gives and later gets strength.
Giving clothes, one gives and later gets beauty.
Giving light, one gives & later gets vision & intelligence.
Giving transportation, one gives and later gets ease.
Giving protecting shelter, one gives and later gets all...
Yet the one who instructs in the True Dhamma,
- The supreme Teaching of all the Buddhas -
Such one gives a quite divine ambrosia!
SN I 32


These are these five rewards of generosity:
One is liked and charming to people at large,
One is admired and respected by wise people,
One's good reputation is spread wide about,
One does not neglect a householder's true duty,
and with the break-up of the body - at the moment
of death - one reappears in a happy destination,
in the plane of the divine worlds!
AN V.35


There are these two kinds of gifts:
Material gifts and gifts of Dhamma.
The supreme gift is that of Dhamma.
There are these two kinds of sharing:
Material sharing and sharing of Dhamma.
The supreme sharing is that of Dhamma.
There are these two kinds of help:
Material help and help with the Dhamma.
This is the supreme of the two:
Help with this subtle Dhamma …
It 98


http://what-buddha-said.net/drops/Openh ... rosity.htm
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby BlackBird » Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:47 am

I don't think illegal downloads quite fit the spirit of stealing. When I think of stealing I think of depriving someone of their property. Illegal downloads deprive Record/Film companies and their executives of a portion of their potential and forecasted income. I don't think it's kusala at all, but I would argue whether it violates the 2nd precept. When you download a film for example - You're not taking it away, but in fact you're multiplying it. We have invented this term called 'copyright' which means what it says it means, that a certain legal entity owns the 'right' to determine who can make a copy of this or that object. But a 'right' isn't something physical, it's simply a mutual agreement by certain legal parties that only so and so can decide how copies are produced. Can you steal that right? No, but you can violate it.
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Terasi » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:46 pm

I think precepts are there to help us avoid actions that will harm other people, that will create unwholesome thoughts/emotions in ourselves, because that in turn will carry to unwholesome intentions (covering up shame by lying, etc). So not harming others is an important link here. For example, cheating with other man's wife, you do not technically take his wife away, but you violate his expectation that his wife would be faithful in their marriage. Downloading illegally also violate the artist/creator's expectation that people (including you) would pay them money to use their intellectual property. Seems harmless if we are talking about individual downloads, but in aggregate the amount should be substantial.

Disclaimer: I am not clean at illegal downloading either, and doing so while thinking that I am cheating the artist's right to receive money from me makes breaking second precept looks easier. Slippery path!


Edit: writing "you" here doesn't apply to anyone in particular, actually applies to myself too...
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:03 pm

mirco wrote:
Hi Alex,

if it's copyrighted, the law says one has to pay for it.

Best Regards, Mirco :-)



The law also allows, encourages and even rewards the soldier to kill the enemy. Does that make the human law wholesome and Dhammically correct in all circumstances ? Is human law based on Dhamma or something else (politics, economics, etc )?

The question is when it comes to Dhamma, does copying what is freely given (by the ripper) = breaking 2nd precept?

BTW, enjoying movie/music/etc is lobha no matter if one copied it or bought it.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby andre9999 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:49 pm

Alex123 wrote:The law also allows, encourages and even rewards the soldier to kill the enemy. Does that make the human law wholesome and Dhammically correct in all circumstances ? Is human law based on Dhamma or something else (politics, economics, etc )?


This seems to go against your arguments regarding bankruptcy.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Alex123 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:04 pm

andre9999 wrote:
Alex123 wrote:The law also allows, encourages and even rewards the soldier to kill the enemy. Does that make the human law wholesome and Dhammically correct in all circumstances ? Is human law based on Dhamma or something else (politics, economics, etc )?


This seems to go against your arguments regarding bankruptcy.



Please explain what exactly do you mean. I just don't think that there is 100% correlation between worldly law and Dhamma.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby meindzai » Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:16 pm

If you have taken the precepts and you are committed to the purest sila you possibly can achieve I think it's best to avoid this type of behavior. As precepts go, the 2nd precept is practically a freebee in the sense that it is probably the easiest to keep. If you're serious about the precepts then don't do it.

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby mirco » Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:54 pm

Hi Alex,
Alex123 wrote:
mirco wrote:if it's copyrighted, the law says one has to pay for it

The law also allows, encourages and even rewards the soldier to kill the enemy. Does that make the human law wholesome and Dhammically correct in all circumstances ? Is human law based on Dhamma or something else (politics, economics, etc )?

Important for meditation is, what impact it has. The kammic law will always present you the corresponding hindrances in meditation afterwards. We will not be able to deepen meditation unless we stop breaking the precepts, no matter how good we are in adjusting our views to our greedy needs.


The question is when it comes to Dhamma, does copying what is freely given by the ripper = breaking 2nd precept?

If you search for copyrighted material the non-legal way, your mind will be affected with unwholesome states. The more, the deeper you go into those sites and sources, even more if it's shared via p2p and one is sharing it while loading.

The question is, does copying, using and sharing what is freely given by the ripper help to attain Nibbana even faster?


Be well, Mirco :-)
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Alex123 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:09 am

Hi Mirco,


mirco wrote:Hi Alex,
Important for meditation is, what impact it has.


Good point. Especially when it comes to samatha meditation, even "legal" copies of music/movies/etc would distract one. Even legal stuff is expression of lobha.

mirco wrote:We will not be able to deepen meditation unless we stop breaking the precepts, no matter how good we are in adjusting our views to our greedy needs.


This is the question. Does it really break the 2nd precept? One does copy what is freely given.

1) Copy is not taking the original.
2) It is freely given by the ripper.


mirco wrote:The question is, does copying, using and sharing what is freely given by the ripper help to attain Nibbana even faster?


No. But enjoying, even paid for copy, is still lobha, and is something to be transcended.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:50 am

Alex123 wrote:Even legal stuff is expression of lobha.
1) Copy is not taking the original.
2) It is freely given by the ripper.
No. But enjoying, even paid for copy, is still lobha, and is something to be transcended.
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