Copyright on the Dhamma

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Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby Maarten2 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:24 pm

Hi,

I just stumbled upon this discussion board and have been reading though some posts here. I must say I am impressed by the quality of the discussion.

I also read the discussion regarding copyright and the second precept. This made we wonder about a related question: How is it possible the translations of Buddhist texts are copyrighted material?

For instance the translation of the Samyutta Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi costs $59.85 on Amazon (that is actually a special offer, the list price is $95) and even the kindle edition, an ebook that costs the publisher nothing to print, of the same book costs $48.29. I believe that the Dhamma should be free to read for everyone, and not only an elite who can afford to pay for it.

Even the material that is spread free of charge on accesstoinsight.org does not allow to publish a modified version; for example to correct mistakes or to translate it languages other than English. See also this blog post by Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu: Cease and Desist Spreading Our Dhamma.

English is the world's most spoken language. I feel that if a good English public domain translation of the suttas, would help the spread and the understanding of the Dhamma.

Does anybody know why Wisdom Publications (a non-profit) does not release it's translations as public domain (I assume they are the copyright holder)? Do other people also feel as strongly about this as I do? Maybe it would be possible to start an appeal to Wisdom Publications to release it into the public domain. It think it would also be beneficial for them in the long term (both kammawise and financially). If they are not willing to do so, maybe they would be willing to sell it and a fund could be started to buy-out the copyright for it.

With metta
May you all become enlightened.
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby plwk » Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:40 pm

If these homegrown discussions are of any assistance... 1 2 3 4 5 6
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby Maarten2 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:57 pm

I have skimmed those discussions, but I hope you understand that I could not read every post. Could you be so kind and point me to specific answers to my question? Note that it is not an inquiry about copyright law or morality, but more about whether there is a chance that the copyright holders of those translations would release them in the public domain, either in exchange for money or good kamma.
May you all become enlightened.
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:39 pm

Maarten2,

there are many who do not much respect what was taught, even they live from it, to say putting "higher proposes" over the teachings themselves (virtue). The thing is, one does not need to take part on it. But as long as one is in a ordinary mundane circle, money or other back-gifts are well used to keep dept and gratitude balanced. Sometimes payment is also a first step to teach gratitude, thinking on the countless Dhamma-vampiers who would never have the idea to pay something back, who would grow heavier and heavier till they are pulled down by their dept. So there are also those adequate to mundane ways, who sell paper, something we can look at and touch.

It's always important to see things from one's own intention and Dhamma does not carry any rights (like in this case: "I have the right to get Dhamma" or "Dhamma must be free"). If your situation gives you access to given Dhamma or not, depends also on your own merits. That is why practice starts with Dana. Not only to learn letting go of possession, but also to make the possibility for being able to receive bigger.

To understand the way it was thought of the Buddha (a wheel out of worldly dept) this two essays are very useful:

No Strings Attached - The Buddha's Culture of Generosity
The Economy of Gifts

Thing's one really owns, one would not sell, because he would know that they are not buy-able and to cheat (or in-honest livelihood) is far away of his intention.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:47 pm

And also much "stolen", so it's always good to take only what is freely given. *smile*
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby santa100 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:50 pm

Well, I'll take some kammic stone for the sake of many poor people who can't afford the books then... :tongue:
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby Maarten2 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:55 pm

Megaupload.com has been seized by the FBI.
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:00 pm

Maarten2 wrote:
Does anybody know why Wisdom Publications (a non-profit) does not release it's translations as public domain (I assume they are the copyright holder)?
Are you going to help Wisdom Publications with the cost of this?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby santa100 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:14 pm

Maarten2 wrote:
"Megaupload.com has been seized by the FBI"

That's too bad. Anyway, www.accesstoinsight.org should have a majority of the suttas. For those that it misses, try http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page for the rest of them. Enjoy..
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:20 pm

santa100 wrote:Maarten2 wrote:
"Megaupload.com has been seized by the FBI"

That's too bad.
No, it is not.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby Maarten2 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:25 pm

Hanzze wrote:It's always important to see things from one's own intention and Dhamma does not carry any rights


I don't claim any rights and I don't want to put any blame on other people. I do understand why translations have been protected by copyright historically: publishing books used to be costly and these books were published by non-profits. Copyright prevents anyone from reprinting the same book for a profit.

Times have changed, however, one little USB stick can hold what used to fill libraries and books can be published online at virtually for no cost. Therefore, it is not beneficial that translations of Buddhist scriptures are protected by copyright anymore. As Buddhist non-profits I don't think they would be deaf this.
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby daverupa » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:32 pm

Maarten2 wrote:publishing books used to be costly... Times have changed, however


Well, not really. It is myopic to think that the paper and glue are the sole costs in producing quality texts which involve skilled translations of various linguistic subtleties.
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    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:34 pm

Maarten2 wrote:
I don't think this is true in this age anymore, where one little USB stick can hold what used to fill libraries and books can be published online at virtually for no cost, it is not beneficial that translations of Buddhist scriptures are protected by copyright. As Buddhist non-profits I don't think they would be deaf this
I suggest that you put in the effort to carefully learn Pali with a qualified teacher so that you do not make the mistakes of the self-taught. You can expect maybe 5 or so years of intense learning before your can start to translate on a competent level, and then you can translate the texts, making them free for everyone. I wonder what the cost of all that would be?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby Maarten2 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:35 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Are you going to help Wisdom Publications with the cost of this?

I assume you mean the losses they would incur by selling less books (because the direct cost (legal or hosting for the files) would be neglectable)? I don't necessarily think there have to be any. People who buy paper back editions now, will still buy them even if they available online and if more people learn about the Dhamma more people will buy books about Buddhism in general. However, like it said earlier another idea might be to setup a fund to compensate them, I would definitely be willing to donate for such a cause.

tiltbillings wrote:No, it is not.

U.S. District court, whatever.
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:38 pm

Maarten2 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Are you going to help Wisdom Publications with the cost of this?

I assume you mean the losses they would incur by selling less books (because the direct cost (legal or hosting for the files) would be neglectable)? I don't necessarily think there have to be any. People who buy paper back editions now, will still buy them even if they available online and if more people learn about the Dhamma more people will buy books about Buddhism in general. However, like it said earlier another idea might be to setup a fund to compensate them, I would definitely be willing to donate for such a cause.
So, who is going to pay for all of this?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:38 pm

Not for profit organisations like the BPS and Wisdom Books still have to pay staff, printing costs, etc.

Even those of us who don't have high overheads have other reasons for wanting to control the redistribution of our work. In my case, it is because if I find errors, I can update them at any time — I don't want old copies of my work with errors floating about in cyber-space. If the books and fonts are freely available from my site, then people can get the most recent editions from there.
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:41 pm

For those who want to support the Buddhist publication Society, you can Donate Here.
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:12 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Maarten2 wrote:
I don't think this is true in this age anymore, where one little USB stick can hold what used to fill libraries and books can be published online at virtually for no cost, it is not beneficial that translations of Buddhist scriptures are protected by copyright. As Buddhist non-profits I don't think they would be deaf this
I suggest that you put in the effort to carefully learn Pali with a qualified teacher so that you do not make the mistakes of the self-taught. You can expect maybe 5 or so years of intense learning before your can start to translate on a competent level, and then you can translate the texts, making them free for everyone. I wonder what the cost of all that would be?

If in the Dhamma tradition way, it would just cost you to let go of mundane ways. Nothing, but you need to give up all others first. *smile* So I guess the problem is mostly to ride on two vehicles at the same time.

From my view, to walk the traditional way would be also much more without side unwholesome effects; for the Robin Hoods; for the poor, waiting on heroes; as well as for the "ruling" owner of the treasures.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:31 pm

santa100 wrote:Hanzze wrote:
"That is the old "Boddhisattva-bafflement", you will not find and evidence for it in the teachings of the Buddha."

You'll find tons of hot debates about what is and what is not Buddha's authentic teaching here on this site, so I won't need to repeat myself. But before you make any statement, please ask yourself: do you know or have you read ALL OF the teachings of the Buddha, and have you clearly seen the boundaries of His teachings?
Could one read them in any book? I guess the boutonnieres are very clear. To let conviction win over knowledge is always the difficult barrier to go on.

Verse 166: For the sake of another's benefit, however great it may be, do not neglect one's own (moral) benefit. Clearly perceiving one's own benefit one should make every effort to attain it.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Copyright on the Dhamma

Postby santa100 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:41 pm

Sure, Verse 166: "For the sake of another's benefit, however great it may be, do not neglect one's own (moral) benefit. Clearly perceiving one's own benefit one should make every effort to attain it." clearly did not tell one to forsake others just for the sake of oneself either..
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