Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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No_Mind
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by No_Mind » Fri Nov 06, 2015 4:55 am

Will those members who are vociferous against illegal downloading and peer to peer sharing first stipulate that they have never photocopied books?

:anjali:
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Buckwheat
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Buckwheat » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:11 am

I have photocopied pages from books and illegally downloaded. my sila is not strong, but at least I can admit I was wrong.
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Mr Man
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Mr Man » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:22 am

No_Mind wrote:Will those members who are vociferous against illegal downloading and peer to peer sharing first stipulate that they have never photocopied books?

:anjali:
I wouldn't portray myself as "vociferous against illegal downloading". I just acknowledge what it is.

Would copying part of a text book be covered by fair use? "Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by No_Mind » Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:09 pm

Mr Man wrote:
No_Mind wrote:Will those members who are vociferous against illegal downloading and peer to peer sharing first stipulate that they have never photocopied books?

:anjali:
I wouldn't portray myself as "vociferous against illegal downloading". I just acknowledge what it is.

Would copying part of a text book be covered by fair use? "Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Fair use relates to citing and quoting (mostly.) It relates to exact reproduction of copyrighted works in some accepted manners but only if it is used in original form with no changes. Fair use means that the copy cannot substitute for the real thing. Hence photocopying 180 pages of a medical textbook to avoid buying it is not within purview of fair use.

Fair use is limited use like using a 10 second clip of a 3 minute song in a documentary or quoting 200 words from a book in a newspaper article. Copying 180 pages of a 800 page textbook is purloining a substantial amount to avoid buying it.

If someone avoided buying copyrighted material - that is the test for fair use. Certainly photocopying a textbook saved the student money and is not fair use.
Last edited by No_Mind on Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Anagarika » Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:16 pm

Mr Man wrote:
No_Mind wrote:Will those members who are vociferous against illegal downloading and peer to peer sharing first stipulate that they have never photocopied books?

:anjali:
I wouldn't portray myself as "vociferous against illegal downloading". I just acknowledge what it is.

Would copying part of a text book be covered by fair use? "Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Mr. Man, you're correct. The Fair Use Doctrine, at least in the US, protects the copying of copyrighted books or other material for purposes of education/scholarship. There's a four prong test for the reasonableness of fair use, and fair use is applied on a case-by-case basis. Having said that, this distinguishes the copying of book material for scholarship vs. downloading a music CD or movie DVD without compensation to the owner of the copyright. One act is fair use, the other, illegal.

Again, whether copying a book section for a academic paper (with citations) or downloading a pirate copy of a film, what is the intention in the mind? Is the intention pure, or is the intention ambiguous, where the mind is looking for excuses or defenses to an act that is seen by many reasonable people see as unethical or unfair? As the fair use exception states ( fourth prong), if you download a pirated film the harm to the owner is negligible, but the test is, in part, if thousands of people did what you're doing, the harm would be to deprive the owner of their rightful compensation for their music, film, or other work. If illegal downloading were not regulated, it would stifle the market for artistic, inventive, creative works.

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by No_Mind » Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:37 pm

Might I point out we are discussing 2nd precept here and not US law.

So bringing in Fair Use law into the discussion is null and void. Can a Buddhist say " .. I was hungry so I stole one apple out of the hundred that were lying around .. it is fair use and does not breach 2nd precept."

Peer to peer file sharing is illegal and unethical. No doubt about it.

But media companies are responsible for price gouging using old revenue models which has led to P2P sharing. If they released all movies for streaming within 21 days of theater release for $4-6 or released all tv shows for streaming for $0.5 within three days of it airing, no one would be indulging in peer to peer sharing. Bring down the price and make it widely available -- P2P sharing would no longer exist.

When I purchased my first DVD player in 2001 for $250, I was shocked to find movie titles from 1950s retailing for for $10 and recent movies for $18-25. No wonder P2P sharing came into existence.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by steve19800 » Mon Nov 09, 2015 3:49 am

I think this discussion is endless. Even for monastic members, there are completely different views regarding this matter.
Buddha doesn't want his disciples creating conflict within society they live in. Buddhist practitioners are taught not to take as much as we can, generosity is the practice. It's, in my opinion, a narrow, individualistic and capitalist mindset to say such and such thing is completely belong to someone, particularly immaterial things. The argument about ownership itself is explaining why there is such an argument, for example, whether you own the wallet or not.

There are many sources that are not copyrighted yet making (a lot of) contribution to a so called "my invention". We don't live in vacuum. We learn from people, we interact with people, we fall and we grow. When people copyright something, for example, a medicine, many poor people unable to afford the monopolized medication. There are people who even want to copyright food, however, it's admitted that they can't copyright the "feel" of it. Not because of the intention not to copyright it but I think because they are still unable to do that.

What if certain people have to pay "contaminants" tax for the air they breath? If there is such rule in the future, it'll become a "normal" rule just like copyright law in the modern day. People will try to follow the "law of the land" and practice their religion, if religions still exist.
It's normal to own things including copyright, patent, etc., but the more we get into these things the more we strengthen the grasp of "mine", "self", "(excessive) discrimination" and so on.
There are many histories of unending conflicts and wars but it has never been a "heaven" for everyone, maybe it's just the way it is. Buddha has no interest in revolutionizing the world.

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Subharo » Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:23 am

steve19800 wrote:I think this discussion is endless.
Word.

I think the 2nd precept gets violated in spirit when one pirates. I find that one can virtually always get by without the desired object to be potentially pirated. If one is wise and mindful enough to catch oneself desiring something before pursuing it (and downloading it), then the issue becomes moot.

I think that in like 99% of the cases of things that get pirated, the person pirating didn't really need it, and could have "made due" somehow without it.

I find that if I wait long enough, one of two solutions virtually always automatically present themselves:
  1. * My desire for the thing fades away, then who cares anymore, as it was just a fleeting flash of lust? This is the virtue of "restraint", which, as we know, is a good thing.
    * A legitimate opportunity to have that thing (or something pretty much just as good) for free comes my way. An example of this happened two days ago for me, where I was given a gift of a small, used digital camera. It was worth about $180 US 8 years ago (back when it was new), and its market value now is still worth $40 US. The owner no longer used it any longer (as he now takes pictures with his smartphone), so he was glad to give it to me, so that it wouldn’t just waste away, unused. Another good example is Open Source software (which was mentioned way earlier in this thread). These days, I'm typically using software like Firefox, Thunderbird, Shotwell, and Linux Mint.
Subharo Bhikkhu
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by iHappy » Mon May 02, 2016 6:31 pm

Here is the thing, I spend less than 5 hours a month watching a tv. I am already paying for the tv services but in case I want to watch HBO I would have to pay extra 5$ a month, that's not something that I am not willing to do just for the sake of watching game of thrones. Plus the premiere is at the time when I prefer to sleep than to watch tv.

So, I'll download it the next day from torrents, and Immo, I am pretty sure that this is stealing. I am not directly doing it but the person who "recorded it" or did whatever it took to get it on torrent , actually stole it from it's producers.
So, I am using stolen goods.

I am new to the Buddhist morality, but I don't think there is much to debate here. No matter if we are breaking the precept or not this is simply wrong.

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon May 02, 2016 6:35 pm

iHappy wrote:Here is the thing, I spend less than 5 hours a month watching a tv. I am already paying for the tv services but in case I want to watch HBO I would have to pay extra 5$ a month, that's not something that I am not willing to do just for the sake of watching game of thrones. Plus the premiere is at the time when I prefer to sleep than to watch tv.

So, I'll download it the next day from torrents, and Immo, I am pretty sure that this is stealing. I am not directly doing it but the person who "recorded it" or did whatever it took to get it on torrent , actually stole it from it's producers.
So, I am using stolen goods.

I am new to the Buddhist morality, but I don't think there is much to debate here. No matter if we are breaking the precept or not this is simply wrong.
Well you have 16 pages here in this thread devoted to your question to work through to help you decide if what you are doing is theft. Good luck.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by iHappy » Mon May 02, 2016 6:36 pm

Thank you
I did, spent a hour or so yesterday reading this thread. Just wanted to share my opinion.

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by gateisred » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:43 pm

I think that this is highly subjective and depends on whether or not you see "illegal downloading" (or as I like to call it File Sharing) as stealing. It's hard to say, because files are not physical objects that can be taken. Rather, they can be copied an unlimited number of times at no cost.
Hostilities aren't stilled through hostility, regardless.
Hostilities are stilled through non-hostility:
this, an unending truth.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by practitioner » Sun Aug 14, 2016 2:43 am

It absolutely is a violation of the 2nd precept.

Imagine that one's talent is on that CD. Everone copies it. The person with the talent dies of hunger because there is no sales. It got copied and distributed.

Imagine you are that person.

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by fivebells » Sun Aug 14, 2016 3:37 am

It's not necessarily harmful to perform an action simply because someone else believes it is harmful or would be offended by it if they knew about it.

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Maarten » Sun Aug 28, 2016 12:00 pm

Doesn't it depend on the intention? Technically it's not stealing, but it can be in spirit. If you download in order to save money then I think it should be considered stealing, since the creator is losing money here. But what if you download a product that you would never buy if downloading was not possible? So you would only get it if it was free. In this case the owner does not lose anything does he? he would have never had your money anyway. So in this last case no one is losing anything so it's not really stealing right?

With Metta,

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by spacenick » Sun Aug 28, 2016 2:52 pm

Maarten wrote:Doesn't it depend on the intention? Technically it's not stealing, but it can be in spirit. If you download in order to save money then I think it should be considered stealing, since the creator is losing money here. But what if you download a product that you would never buy if downloading was not possible? So you would only get it if it was free. In this case the owner does not lose anything does he? he would have never had your money anyway. So in this last case no one is losing anything so it's not really stealing right?

With Metta,

Maarten
Nah the precepts are pretty straightforward and do not include intention. However intention is the molding factor that will make you, sooner or later, experience the fruits of that intention (vipaka) to a degree that is basically proportional to your original intention, and your current state of mind (then we get into all the kammic complexities so let's not)

To add my view to the thicket: to me this is a straightforward "yes, it does violate the 2nd precept". You are taking something that is not given (I don't really see the debate here tbh). Now, do I think that this has strong kammic consequences? Absolutely not. This sounds pretty minor to me. BUT, you're still breaking the precept.

So it depends how pure you want your Sila to be. When the mind gets to certain degrees of deep stillness, it doesn't need much to move... Or I should say, the disturbance of minor things like that become more apparent (while before you would think this would never have any consequences whatsoever)

It's quite funny because both this topic and the porn ones are the most viewed on this sub-forum; basically it comes down to "I really like doing that, and I don't intend to change - can I find a way so that it accords with the Buddhist side of my personality?". We just need a topic about the glass of wine at dinner and I think we have a winning trio :tongue:

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by samseva » Sun Aug 28, 2016 11:05 pm

spacenick wrote:Nah the precepts are pretty straightforward and do not include intention.
Intention is part of the precepts.

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by spacenick » Sun Aug 28, 2016 11:36 pm

samseva wrote:
spacenick wrote:Nah the precepts are pretty straightforward and do not include intention.
Intention is part of the precepts.
Care to develop a bit more your statement here?

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by samseva » Sun Aug 28, 2016 11:44 pm

spacenick wrote:Care to develop a bit more your statement here?
Intention is a major factor in all the precepts (in all actions actually).
1st Precept wrote:A complete act of killing constituting a full violation of the precept involves five factors: (1) a living being; (2) the perception of the living being as such; (3) the thought or volition of killing; (4) the appropriate effort; and (5) the actual death of the being as a result of the action.
2nd Precept wrote:According to the commentaries, for a complete breach of the precept to be committed five factors must be present: (1) an article belonging to another legally and blamelessly; (2) the perception of it as belonging to another; (3) the thought or intention of stealing; (4) the activity of taking the article; and (5) the actual appropriation of the article.
3rd Precept wrote:The texts mention four factors which must be present for a breach of the precept to be incurred: (1) an illicit partner, as defined above; (2) the thought or volition of engaging in sexual union with that person; (3) the act of engaging in union; and (4) the acceptance of the union.
4th Precept wrote:Four factors enter into the offense of false speech: (1) an untrue state of affairs; (2) the intention of deceiving another; (3) the effort to express
that, either verbally or bodily; and (4) the conveying of a false impression to another.
5th Precept wrote:For the precept to be violated four factors are required: (1) the intoxicant; (2) the intention of taking it; (3) the activity of ingesting it; and (4) the actual ingestion of the intoxicant.
Source: Bhikkhu Bodhi's Going for Refuge & Taking the Precepts

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by spacenick » Sun Aug 28, 2016 11:56 pm

So first of all, this comes from the commentaries. I take the 5 precepts from the Canon as being this:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/pancasila.html wrote: 1. Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.
2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.
3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.
4. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.
5. Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.
As you can see, no intention is mentioned here.

But anyway, I mentioned intention in the sense of: it is not the having the intention to harm that is breaking the precept. In that sense, precepts are not about intention. Obviously, intention precedes action, so that's a given.

But if you have a thought of killing your co-worker, you're are not breaking the 1st precept. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't uproot that thought quickly; but you are not breaking any precept. This would be having a kind of sinner approach to the precepts which is not helpful and give rise to all sorts of guilt and other unhealthy things.

Equally, you are not not breaking a precept because you lied "to do good". So it works both ways. [^1]

I'm guessing that intention is mentioned in the commentaries because it does make a difference kammically let's say if you step on an ant unintentionally.

[^1]: And it's helpful to try to escape our Judeo-Christian conditioning as much as we can and to remember that these training rules (that is what they are) are for our own benefits and to optimize progress in our practice towards awakening. No one is gonna punish you for breaking a precept (ok, based on your kamma you might get into a scenario of being judged at death time, but that's another discussion); we already "pay the price" for breaking precepts by having created the potential for negative kamma to ripen. In themselves, they are not an "absolute thing" (and it's not surprising to see that blind attachment to precepts drops at stream-entry)
Last edited by spacenick on Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:09 am, edited 3 times in total.

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