Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

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

Post by binocular » Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:11 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:28 am
When gifts are replaced by rights, so is gratitude replaced by claims. And claims breed resentment. Since you are queuing on equal terms with the competition, you will begin to think of the special conditions that entitle you to a greater, a speedier, or a more effective share. You will be always one step from the official complaint, the court action, the press interview, and the snarling reproach against Them, the ones who owed you this right and also withheld it. Agape, the contagious gentleness between people, survives only where there is a habit of giving. Take away gift, and agape gives way to the attitude that Nietzsche called ressentiment, the vigilant envy of others, and the desire to take from them what I  but not they have a right to.
Roger Scruton, Gratitude and Grace
And conversely, that gentleness between people does not develop if people take what has not been offered.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:22 am

i see that a lot, 'spirit of the precept'; i think i recall seeing something like that in a sutta but can someone link to it for me
it seems too that people want the precepts to be more expansive than they are
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by binocular » Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:00 am

Sovatthika wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:22 am
it seems too that people want the precepts to be more expansive than they are
It depends on the quality of interaction that one wants with others.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:22 am

Sovatthika wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:26 pm
it would be fitting then if i knew the origin of adinnaṃ like if it comes from a sutta, like did something happen for that to be lain down as a rule
Adinnādāna, "taking what is not given", is the standard Buddhist term for what we call stealing. It occurs 385 times in the Tipiṭaka, so you really don't need to look very hard. Maybe start with the Vinaya's account of the second defeating offence for bhikkhus:
What has not been given: what has not been given, what has not been let go of, what has not been relinquished; what is guarded, what is protected, what is regarded as “mine;” what belongs to someone else. This is called “what has not been given.”

https://suttacentral.net/en/pi-tv-bu-vb-pj2
If something is dinnaṃ, "given", it means either (1) nobody owns it or (2) Smith, the person who owns it, chooses to give it to Jones without any coercion or deception on Jones's part. If Smith doesn't choose to do so, then it's adinnaṃ, "not given", and therefore an improper thing for Jones to take.

Where secular law comes into play is with regard to defining what counts as "owned" and "ownerless". This will vary from one society to another and one age to another, but whatever it happens to be when and where one is living must be accepted. For example, in the Buddha's time it was the custom for rag-robe-wearing bhikkhus to go into charnel grounds, remove the winding sheets from corpses and sew them into robes for themselves. This was a permitted practice because the laws of that time regarded the cloth on a corpse as ownerless. But as far as I know this is not generally the case today, and so if a bhikkhu went into a modern city morgue or funeral parlour, unwrapped the cloths from some corpses and then carried them away to use as robe-material, he would be taking what is adinnaṃ because such cloth is nowadays deemed to have an owner.

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:41 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:22 am

Adinnādāna, "taking what is not given", is the standard Buddhist term for what we call stealing. It occurs 385 times in the Tipiṭaka, so you really don't need to look very hard. Maybe start with the Vinaya's account of the second defeating offence for bhikkhus:
What has not been given: what has not been given, what has not been let go of, what has not been relinquished; what is guarded, what is protected, what is regarded as “mine;” what belongs to someone else. This is called “what has not been given.”

https://suttacentral.net/en/pi-tv-bu-vb-pj2
If something is dinnaṃ, "given", it means either (1) nobody owns it or (2) Smith, the person who owns it, chooses to give it to Jones without any coercion or deception on Jones's part. If Smith doesn't choose to do so, then it's adinnaṃ, "not given", and therefore an improper thing for Jones to take.

Where secular law comes into play is with regard to defining what counts as "owned" and "ownerless". This will vary from one society to another and one age to another, but whatever it happens to be when and where one is living must be accepted. For example, in the Buddha's time it was the custom for rag-robe-wearing bhikkhus to go into charnel grounds, remove the winding sheets from corpses and sew them into robes for themselves. This was a permitted practice because the laws of that time regarded the cloth on a corpse as ownerless. But as far as I know this is not generally the case today, and so if a bhikkhu went into a modern city morgue or funeral parlour, unwrapped the cloths from some corpses and then carrying them away to use as robe-material, he would be taking what is adinnaṃ because such cloth is nowadays deemed to have an owner.
Many thanks for this, as it seems to settle the argument entirely. The point from the Vinaya about
what has not been let go of, what has not been relinquished; what is guarded, what is protected, what is regarded as “mine;” what belongs to someone else.
obviously relates to copyrighted material and would seem to deal with Sovatthika's objection, and the points made by Sujato above. Software is jealously guarded and protected and regarded as subject to ownership according to legal convention. The answer is in the title of this thread: the fact that the downloading in question is illegal means that someone has taken the trouble to publicly register their ownership, guardianship, and protection of whatever is to be downloaded.

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Javi » Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:27 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:22 am
Sovatthika wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:26 pm
it would be fitting then if i knew the origin of adinnaṃ like if it comes from a sutta, like did something happen for that to be lain down as a rule
Adinnādāna, "taking what is not given", is the standard Buddhist term for what we call stealing. It occurs 385 times in the Tipiṭaka, so you really don't need to look very hard. Maybe start with the Vinaya's account of the second defeating offence for bhikkhus:
What has not been given: what has not been given, what has not been let go of, what has not been relinquished; what is guarded, what is protected, what is regarded as “mine;” what belongs to someone else. This is called “what has not been given.”

https://suttacentral.net/en/pi-tv-bu-vb-pj2
If something is dinnaṃ, "given", it means either (1) nobody owns it or (2) Smith, the person who owns it, chooses to give it to Jones without any coercion or deception on Jones's part. If Smith doesn't choose to do so, then it's adinnaṃ, "not given", and therefore an improper thing for Jones to take.

Where secular law comes into play is with regard to defining what counts as "owned" and "ownerless". This will vary from one society to another and one age to another, but whatever it happens to be when and where one is living must be accepted. For example, in the Buddha's time it was the custom for rag-robe-wearing bhikkhus to go into charnel grounds, remove the winding sheets from corpses and sew them into robes for themselves. This was a permitted practice because the laws of that time regarded the cloth on a corpse as ownerless. But as far as I know this is not generally the case today, and so if a bhikkhu went into a modern city morgue or funeral parlour, unwrapped the cloths from some corpses and then carried them away to use as robe-material, he would be taking what is adinnaṃ because such cloth is nowadays deemed to have an owner.
Hello Venerable,

Doesn't this give too much moral authority to the state over and above the Buddha's Dhamma?

Let's say that I lived in a totalitarian state whose laws made it clear that the state owns all intellectual property, including the words of the Buddha (not a far fetched premise, given several 20th century events). By this logic, even reciting or writing down from memory and distributing Dhamma without state permission would constitute as breaking the precept and one can easily see that the state would take this interpretation on board against monastics who sought to distribute Dhamma without state sanction.

Likewise as has been mentioned before there are other absurd conclusions from copyright law if we take it seriously, like not being able to sing the happy birthday song or a disney tune in public, etc.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:01 pm

Javi wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:27 pm
Doesn't this give too much moral authority to the state over and above the Buddha's Dhamma?

Let's say that I lived in a totalitarian state whose laws made it clear that the state owns all intellectual property, including the words of the Buddha (not a far fetched premise, given several 20th century events). By this logic, even reciting or writing down from memory and distributing Dhamma without state permission would constitute as breaking the precept and one can easily see that the state would take this interpretation on board against monastics who sought to distribute Dhamma without state sanction.
In a scenario like this, Buddhaghosa's qualification of the obligation to conform to the wishes of kings would come into effect.
Vinaya

Now at that time King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha, desiring to postpone the rains, sent a messenger to the monks saying: “What if the masters could enter upon the rains at the next full-moon day?” They told this matter to the Lord. He said: “I allow you, monks, to obey kings.”

Buddhaghosa:

I allow you, monks, to obey kings – here it is permitted for a bhikkhu to obey [the king] because delayed entry into the rains retreat causes no decline for bhikkhus; therefore in regard to any other kind of righteous act (dhammika kamma) a bhikkhu should obey, but never in regard to an unrighteous one.

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Javi » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:30 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:01 pm
Javi wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:27 pm
Doesn't this give too much moral authority to the state over and above the Buddha's Dhamma?

Let's say that I lived in a totalitarian state whose laws made it clear that the state owns all intellectual property, including the words of the Buddha (not a far fetched premise, given several 20th century events). By this logic, even reciting or writing down from memory and distributing Dhamma without state permission would constitute as breaking the precept and one can easily see that the state would take this interpretation on board against monastics who sought to distribute Dhamma without state sanction.
In a scenario like this, Buddhaghosa's qualification of the obligation to conform to the wishes of kings would come into effect.
Vinaya

Now at that time King Seniya Bimbisāra of Magadha, desiring to postpone the rains, sent a messenger to the monks saying: “What if the masters could enter upon the rains at the next full-moon day?” They told this matter to the Lord. He said: “I allow you, monks, to obey kings.”

Buddhaghosa:

I allow you, monks, to obey kings – here it is permitted for a bhikkhu to obey [the king] because delayed entry into the rains retreat causes no decline for bhikkhus; therefore in regard to any other kind of righteous act (dhammika kamma) a bhikkhu should obey, but never in regard to an unrighteous one.
Ah I see, that makes sense, thank you
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by binocular » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:04 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:41 am
Many thanks for this, as it seems to settle the argument entirely. The point from the Vinaya about
what has not been let go of, what has not been relinquished; what is guarded, what is protected, what is regarded as “mine;” what belongs to someone else.
obviously relates to copyrighted material and would seem to deal with Sovatthika's objection, and the points made by Sujato above. Software is jealously guarded and protected and regarded as subject to ownership according to legal convention. The answer is in the title of this thread: the fact that the downloading in question is illegal means that someone has taken the trouble to publicly register their ownership, guardianship, and protection of whatever is to be downloaded.
I suspect that an underlying issue here is that there are or should be such things as "public goods", and that they aren't or shouldn't be limited to air or water. (However, even with air and water, the matter is far from settled, given the recent legislations around the world regarding the ownership of water and the responsibility for air pollution.) The idea seems to be that if something is as readily available as air, then taking it shouldn't be considered stealing. Many digital contents do seem "as readily available as air," which is probably why some people don't consider taking those digital contents to be an act of stealing.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:17 am

binocular wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:04 am

I suspect that an underlying issue here is that there are or should be such things as "public goods", and that they aren't or shouldn't be limited to air or water. (However, even with air and water, the matter is far from settled, given the recent legislations around the world regarding the ownership of water and the responsibility for air pollution.) The idea seems to be that if something is as readily available as air, then taking it shouldn't be considered stealing. Many digital contents do seem "as readily available as air," which is probably why some people don't consider taking those digital contents to be an act of stealing.
Agreed. The fact that someone has taken time to register ownership of digital content is the sign that we can't treat it as a "public good" without further investigation. The water issue is interesting. Where I live, I would laugh at someone who claims ownership of untreated water, but the purified stuff in tanks or bottles is another matter.

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by binocular » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:24 am

Javi wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:27 pm
Doesn't this give too much moral authority to the state over and above the Buddha's Dhamma?
/.../
Likewise as has been mentioned before there are other absurd conclusions from copyright law if we take it seriously, like not being able to sing the happy birthday song or a disney tune in public, etc.
The flip side is that copyright implies responsibility for what is copyrighted, and respecting copyright on principle protects the would-be thief of any negative consequence that can come from perusing the copyrighted material.

Note the principle "caveat emptor", in the generalized form implying that the potential buyer/obtainer must beware of the effects of anything they acquire. The assumption in taking (stealing) is that the taken (stolen) item will be good for you. But it is far from a given that it in fact will be good for you -- just think of the negative effects of using drugs. (Leaving aside all the issues connected to stealing being illegal, having to pay fines or face criminal charges and imprisonment.) Would not singing a Disney tune (whether in private or in public) really decrease the quality of your life? Would watching an illegally downloaded movie really increase the quality of your life?
If even many of the things that one can obtain legally aren't good for one, how much worse for one are the things that one cannot readily obtain legally.

Copyright and property laws protect worldly things. Dhammically, seeking pleasure in worldly things is problematic to begin with.
Let's say that I lived in a totalitarian state whose laws made it clear that the state owns all intellectual property, including the words of the Buddha (not a far fetched premise, given several 20th century events). By this logic, even reciting or writing down from memory and distributing Dhamma without state permission would constitute as breaking the precept and one can easily see that the state would take this interpretation on board against monastics who sought to distribute Dhamma without state sanction.

Personally, I actually would welcome such a situation because it would make matters of responsibility much clearer. As things stand, anyone can say anything and call it Buddhism or Dhamma, and people sometimes get into deep confusion and suffering because of that. This is not to say that the (secular or religious) state can be or is the adequate guardian of the Dhamma, but it would place an additional system of checks and balances in place.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by Kim OHara » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:06 pm

Javi wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:27 pm
Likewise as has been mentioned before there are other absurd conclusions from copyright law if we take it seriously, like not being able to sing the happy birthday song or a disney tune in public, etc.
Those 'absurd conclusions' are incorrect conclusions.
Some creative work is 'in the public domain', meaning that no-one owns any copyright in it, e.g. folk songs, books written a long time ago, etc.
And some creative work which is not in the public domain may be used freely under certain conditions, e.g. unpaid informal performance, private study, etc.

The details vary from one country to another and get very tricky but the bottom line is that copyright covers only specified rights in specified works - even specified attributes of works. (Attributes? A particular printed edition of (e.g.) Robinson Crusoe may be copyright although the text isn't.)

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by mario92 » Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:01 pm

When you break the 2nd precept then what is the solution while used cracked software? I think this should be top of the list because many people do this without even knowing the consequences, not only if it violates the second precept but the punishment is more scary.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by pilgrim » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:05 am

Modern society produces millions of laws. One can break the law without breaking a precept and one can also break precepts without breaking the law.

In ancient India, I'm sure people copied each other's pottery designs too. Copyright laws are a modern innovation which caters to a society which centers around consumerism and economics. If we live in a modern society, we need to respect these laws and abide by them. However, the precepts are based on ethics, not commerce. Illegal downloading, unlike stealing, does not deprive the owner of his property and therefore does not violate the 2nd precept.

The same can be said of other modern, commerce based laws like insider trading, etc.

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Post by mario92 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:54 am

Thank you very much pilgrim, now im looking for some art (i can create myself) and commerce livelihood through the internet, and see what could happen. Im doubting in another companies that also use cracked software, which most of them use that software. Is like life changing switch ive never expected, like loosing a child, i felt like that.
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