Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
KiwiNFLFan
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:24 am

Buddhists and copyright

Post by KiwiNFLFan » Wed May 16, 2018 12:35 am

What is the Buddhist view on copyright infringement? I know that the Second Precept says to refrain from 'taking that which is not given', but when you're copying a song or movie, you're not actually depriving the person of their property, but simply making another copy.

I don't think we should do things like download movies and TV series for free, but what about other applications? Should we make sure before we watch any YouTube video that the poster owns the copyright?

I'm asking because I'm learning Thai, and I've found a link to some Thai kids' books for learning to read. I'm unsure if the person offering them for download has permission to do so or not (the website does contain an interview with the author of said books, however). Such books are (as far as I know) unavailable in my country. Would it be a breach of the Second Precept to download and use them?

User avatar
JamesTheGiant
Posts: 481
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:41 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Buddhists and copyright

Post by JamesTheGiant » Wed May 16, 2018 1:43 am

Here are 18 pages and 360 posts on that exact topic. Happy reading!
viewtopic.php?f=42&t=7499

Now quickly mods, lock this thread, lest it become a rehash of the megathread!

User avatar
Dhammarakkhito
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:31 am
Contact:

Re: Buddhists and copyright

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Wed May 16, 2018 1:55 am

no, you're right it has to be taken. copyright infringement isn't theft because nothing is taken, i'm not sure the law actually classifies it as theft, but if they do doesn't change facts.
you may indirectly deprive an owner of profits, but so would you if you set up a competing business.
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

https://www.facebook.com/noblebuddhadha ... 34/?type=3

http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://sites.google.com/site/santipada ... allytaught

User avatar
Dhammarakkhito
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:31 am
Contact:

Re: Buddhists and copyright

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Wed May 16, 2018 1:59 am

why be so anal about getting everything into a mega thread? how about do that if you have multiple threads on the same topic per day or per week but let people start fresh if it's been awhile. otherwise you get perhaps valuable commentary buried under pages and pages in a big, junky thread that is unlikely to be read by many.
an original post may ask or state from a different angle something we actually haven't seen
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

https://www.facebook.com/noblebuddhadha ... 34/?type=3

http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://sites.google.com/site/santipada ... allytaught

User avatar
rightviewftw
Posts: 1938
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:50 pm

Re: Buddhists and copyright

Post by rightviewftw » Wed May 16, 2018 2:08 am

Gandhatthena Sutta: The Thief of a Scent

I have heard that on one occasion a certain monk was dwelling among the Kosalans in a forest thicket. Now at that time, after his meal, returning from his almsround, he went down to a lotus pond and sniffed a red lotus.

Then the devata inhabiting the forest thicket, feeling sympathy for the monk, desiring his benefit, desiring to bring him to his senses, approached him and addressed him with this verse:

You sniff this water-born flower
that hasn't been given to you.
This, dear sir, is a factor of stealing.
You are a thief of a scent.

[The monk:]
I don't take, don't damage.
I sniff at the lotus
from far away.
So why do you call me
a thief of a scent?

One who
digs up the stalks,
damages flowers,
one of such ruthless behavior:
why don't you say it of him?

[The devata:]
A person ruthless & grasping,
smeared like a nursing diaper:
to him
I have nothing to say.
It's you
to whom I should speak.

To a person unblemished,
constantly searching for purity,
a hair-tip's worth of evil
seems as large
as a cloud.

[The monk:]
Yes, yakkha, you understand me
and show me sympathy.
Warn me again, yakkha,
whenever again
you see something like this.

[The devata:]
I don't depend on you
for my living
nor am I
your hired hand.
You, monk,
you yourself should know
how to go to the good destination.

The monk, chastened by the devata, came to his senses.
He goes to Niraya, the one who asserts what didn't take place, as does the one who, having done, says, 'I didn't.' Both — low-acting people — there become equal: after death, in the world beyond.
Tyranny of Words - An Introduction to General Semantics
How to Meditate: Mindfulness of Breathing
Factors of Enlightenment & Perceptions
How to Meditate: Basic Satipatthana
Parallel Dhammapada Reading

User avatar
Dhammanando
Posts: 4207
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Ban Sri Pradu Rubber Forest, Phrao, Chiangmai

Re: Buddhists and copyright

Post by Dhammanando » Wed May 16, 2018 2:57 am

Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 1:55 am
copyright infringement isn't theft because nothing is taken,
In the Vinaya smuggling goods through customs to avoid paying duty on them is theft, even though nothing is taken. Here the theft consists not in taking but in evading what one ought to pay.

I think those who argue that adinnādāna necessarily involves the physical movement of something are being over-literal in a way that they almost certainly wouldn't be with any of the other precepts. Nobody argues, for example, that it's not false speech when you tell a deliberate lie in a written letter or a Morse code message, on the grounds that you're not actually speaking.

User avatar
Dhammarakkhito
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:31 am
Contact:

Re: Buddhists and copyright

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Wed May 16, 2018 5:27 am

bhante, ok. i didnt know that about smuggling, it doesnt make sense to me. maybe it could be said that the object smuggled through customs belongs to the government until the fee is paid?
and in the sense of copyright, it's still a copy, it would be like taking a picture of something, which might be some kind of lesser offense
i'm not sure you can really make a claim over all reproductions of a thing and not just the thing.
this was interesting tho, www.suttas.net/english/vinaya/patimokkh ... yright.php
the same website acknowledges the smuggling thing but holds that copyright is only maybe a lesser offense http://www.suttas.net/english/vinaya/pa ... ajika2.php
i'm not satisfied with others' explanations of why copyright violation is anything but taboo
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

https://www.facebook.com/noblebuddhadha ... 34/?type=3

http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://sites.google.com/site/santipada ... allytaught

User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 4999
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Buddhists and copyright

Post by Kim OHara » Wed May 16, 2018 7:20 am

Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 1:59 am
why be so anal about getting everything into a mega thread? how about do that if you have multiple threads on the same topic per day or per week but let people start fresh if it's been awhile. otherwise you get perhaps valuable commentary buried under pages and pages in a big, junky thread that is unlikely to be read by many.
an original post may ask or state from a different angle something we actually haven't seen
Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 5:27 am
i'm not satisfied with others' explanations of why copyright violation is anything but taboo
Dhammarakkhito,
The mega thread exists because so many people have started similar topics. The idea is that is will de-clutter the forum and save a lot of repetition.
On this topic there is nothing new to be said: taking what is not given covers more than stealing fruit from your neighbour's tree, and it is always wrong. All that changes is the technology, and new technology doesn't change the ethics of the situation.
Please read (at least) a few pages of the mega thread. If you then have something new to say, (1) that's fine, and we'll listen but (2) we will be very surprised.

:coffee:
Kim

User avatar
Dhammarakkhito
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:31 am
Contact:

Re: Buddhists and copyright

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Wed May 16, 2018 7:25 am

yea i've looked at it i think, but who is really going to read more than a few pages
anyway if you can box it up and slap a label on it you can store it and never look at it again, if topics require pre-approval like that, why have a forum at all
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

https://www.facebook.com/noblebuddhadha ... 34/?type=3

http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://sites.google.com/site/santipada ... allytaught

User avatar
Zom
Posts: 2158
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Contact:

Re: Buddhists and copyright

Post by Zom » Wed May 16, 2018 8:09 am

and in the sense of copyright, it's still a copy,
I think you confuse copyright with so called "piracy" - which is not the same.

Circle5
Posts: 894
Joined: Wed May 31, 2017 2:14 am

Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Circle5 » Wed May 16, 2018 5:08 pm

The Sutta Pitakka is copyrighted. An e-book version that costs nothing to produce is sold for 200$. Needless to say it was also translated for free by B.Bodhi. The company selling this is also registered as a non-profit company, yet it only sells for profit and could not even make a compromise when it comes to e-book versions of the Nikayas that cost nothing to produce. In my country, if you are registered as non-profit you can not sell anything, period. Whatever you give, you need to give for free, sponsored by donations money.

And you'll have people from protestant countries defending this kind of stupidity due to arguments presented here in this topic. Puritanism tops critical thinking in some courners of the world. Where I live, getting scammed is considered a sign of stupidity and shun by society. There is nothing to brag about getting scammed, such people are considered stupid. It is such an embarasment that usually people don't tell about such episodes to others not to look stupid. It's incomprehensible to have an attitude of "I am getting scammed, yet I enjoy and even support it cause I'm a puritan and it's the scammer problem that he is a scammer". Nope, if you let yourself getting scammed you are not only demonstrating stupidity but are also encouraging and supporting the scammer and scamming activity in general.

PS: I have a pirated version of the Nikayas that Zom provided to me. And I have distributed it to other buddhist and will continue to do so.

User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 1537
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by cappuccino » Wed May 16, 2018 8:00 pm

suppose you have trouble with money?

where do you think such trouble came from?

it came from previous stealing…

User avatar
JamesTheGiant
Posts: 481
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:41 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by JamesTheGiant » Wed May 16, 2018 8:46 pm

Circle5 wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 5:08 pm
PS: I have a pirated version of the Nikayas that Zom provided to me. And I have distributed it to other buddhist and will continue to do so.
Yes, me too. It is completely insane that those Bhikkhu Bodhi translations are not able to be shared. I heard Bhikkhu Bodhi regretted giving the license to Wisdom Publications, and if he'd completed them these days when online distribution is common, he would never have given it to them.

KiwiNFLFan
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:24 am

Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by KiwiNFLFan » Thu May 17, 2018 12:30 am

I see it's not an 'open and shut case'. Various arguments are being made on both sides. I agree we shouldn't download Photoshop or the latest series of Game of Thrones just because we don't want to pay (although what about if someone, e.g. a student, can't pay?)

But what about if something isn't available in your country? These Thai books I mentioned (Learn to read with Manee) don't seem to be available in ebook form on the Internet, and they're definitely not available in print here in New Zealand. The lady running the site posted a video of an interview she did with the writer of the books, which seems to imply that the distribution is legit. Am I obsessing too much over this? If there were ebook versions for sale I would buy them.

Also, what about streaming TV shows that your local TV network doesn't broadcast? You have no control over which shows they broadcast.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16460
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu May 17, 2018 2:49 am

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 8:46 pm
I heard Bhikkhu Bodhi regretted giving the license to Wisdom Publications, and if he'd completed them these days when online distribution is common, he would never have given it to them.
Yes I think that it is important to realise that when he started electronic distribution didn't exist, and that the way to preserve such work would be to have it published by a publisher who was going to be around for a while. His translations are published by both Wisdom and PTS, with the latter now having been around for well over 100 years.

I'm all for giving away stuff, but free-distribution material can easily disappear if there is no organisation to look after it.

Bhikkhu Analayo, with the advantage of starting significantly later, has taken a compromise path, where his books are published for purchase, but become freely available after a certain period. This means that there are "normal" books, which can be archived by libraries, etc, but the electronic resource is available for distribution.

:heart:
Mike

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Sam Vara and 23 guests