Copyright

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Copyright

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:37 pm

it has been claimed that editors will edit in line with cost effectiveness, and I think this may be true in some cases, but I think with Dhamma Material such as the Tipitaka or commentaries are concerned it would be a case of readability, even A2I has suttas with lots of repetition edited and cost isn't really a problem for them, low overheads etc.
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Re: Copyright

Postby BudSas » Thu Dec 03, 2009 5:18 am

mikenz66 wrote: Of course. That's exactly what is happening with sites like Access to Insight, and so on. Can it bring in enough money to finance an operation like PTS, BPS, or Wisdom? I don't know, I don't know their financial models.

In my opinion the "shareware" at Access to Insight, etc, is not yet as consistent and complete as the volumes from the traditional publishers. As Ben says, there are lots of costs involved in organising quality publishing.



How's about Ven Chin-kung's Buddha Educational Foundation in Taiwan ( http://www.budaedu.org/en/introduce/ )? In the past 25 years, they have been printing a large numbers of Dhamma books in many languages for free distribution worldwide, with good quality printing. What is their financial model?

Although there have been concerns/complaints on their violation of copyright, I sincerely admire their dedicated Dhamma work; and I for one, have been on the receiving end, benefitting many free good Dhamma books from them.

There are also other smaller groups (susch as in Malaysia, Singapore) which print and distribute free copies of Dhamma books, and rely on generous donations from Buddhist readers.

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Re: Copyright

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Dec 03, 2009 5:31 am

Greetings BudSas,

BudSas wrote:What is their financial model?


Chinese people scared of the hell realms? :shrug:

It's worth noting though that this is the organisation responsible for the unauthorised duplications of Visuddhimagga without BPS permission.

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Re: Copyright

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 03, 2009 6:26 am

Hi BudSas,
BudSas wrote:How's about Ven Chin-kung's Buddha Educational Foundation in Taiwan ( http://www.budaedu.org/en/introduce/ )? In the past 25 years, they have been printing a large numbers of Dhamma books in many languages for free distribution worldwide, with good quality printing. What is their financial model?

Donations, as you say.
BudSas wrote:Although there have been concerns/complaints on their violation of copyright, I sincerely admire their dedicated Dhamma work; and I for one, have been on the receiving end, benefitting many free good Dhamma books from them.

I have too.
BudSas wrote:There are also other smaller groups (susch as in Malaysia, Singapore) which print and distribute free copies of Dhamma books, and rely on generous donations from Buddhist readers.

And I have books from those organisations. However, all of the organisations you mention have limited print runs, so many of the books are unavailable, even if you were willing to pay for them.

Also, they have not produced anything that compares with the modern translations from PTS, BPS, Wisdom, etc. The books I have appear to be mostly material that was previously published elsewhere or is produced from electronic copy produced elsewhere (e.g. Ven Thanissaro's Wings for Awakening).

As others have said, taking existing copy and printing it is not particularly difficult or expensive. Producing the copy in the first place is the difficult bit. One might argue that Bhikkhu Bodhi could have done what Ven Thanissaro has done, and simply produce the electronic copy and rely on the donation-supported printers to distribute it. And perhaps someone will do that in the future. However, though I am grateful for books such as "Wings to Awakening", the production quality is not great, and for a major reference such as the Nikaya volumes, which I expect to use heavily for many years, I'd rather have something well printed and well bound.
Having said that, I'd really like a proper searchable PDF (not a scan) of those books to aid searching...

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Re: Copyright

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:34 pm

It is worth noting that BPS do grant permission when asked, allot of things are available on google books etc for free and with permission.
If these free distributors done their own work there wouldn't be a problem, but they don't they rely on others doing it for them then making cheep reproductions.

personally I would sooner pay for a texts and support those doing the work than get a poor reproduction photocopy.
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Re: Copyright

Postby poto » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:19 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Having said that, I'd really like a proper searchable PDF (not a scan) of those books to aid searching...


There are PDF to text conversion programs, but sometimes the output can be pretty bad. Of course, if you only need a basic search functionality, a crude text conversion might work for that.
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Re: Copyright

Postby Chula » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:08 am

Hi,

I'd like to be clear - I highly admire what BPS and PTS are doing currently and the Western Buddhist world owes a lot to them for making the Dhamma available. My choice of words was quite poor in this case and likely misunderstood. My point was more relating to the current internet landscape and the future. I think you would agree that although nothing is "free" in the economic sense of the word, dāna by definition is supposed to be a gift with no strings attached. Although relying on donations to support printing and distributing is probably not the best way to make the texts widely available commercially, it would be the method most in line with the teachings themselves.

Also, I think there's a clear difference between buying a Dhamma book and supporting a monk with his requisites. The properly practicing monk gives his teachings freely - he (or she) does not withhold what he knows until he gets something in return. This has been the case since the time of the Buddha - otherwise people with lesser means would have very little chance of hearing the Dhamma. This relationship is important because the monk is forbidden from begging and is entirely dependent on the lay person's generosity for survival. Although this might seem an impossible ideal, from what I've read (monks dying of starvation due to lack of alms etc) this practice was strictly followed in the Theravada countries at least in the golden days.

Now, in the modern world, one of the main ways most of us "hear" the teachings is through reading the texts. Taking the same principle of dāna into account and considering the very low cost (ok, not costless - but I'm sure donations can handle this) of hosting a publication online, it would be the right thing to do for a Buddhist non-profit to make all their texts available online for free - for the benefit of all mankind.

Metta,
Chula

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Chula,
Chula wrote:Thanks for your post. This doesn't have anything to do with affordability - it's really a matter of principle. I also am aware of the great work that BPS and PTS have been doing all these years. It's just that if they don't adapt their models to the times quickly it will seem like they're withholding the Dhamma for no good reason.

Given the vast amount of "free" stuff out there I don't see why anyone should talk about non-profit publishers "withholding Dhamma". It's not trivial and certainly not zero cost to produce and host high-quality electronic copy. And it's not trivial to change your business model and make sure you can keep running the projects that you've got planned.

I've put "free" in quotes above, because, really, it's not free. Someone has paid, in time and/or cash, for all of the "free" Dhamma that I (or you) have ever received. It's been like that since (and including) the time of the Buddha. I don't actually see much difference in principle between spending a few dollars to buy high-quality translations and giving support in the form of time, money, and food to my teachers.

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Re: Copyright

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:37 am

Hi Chula,
Chula wrote:Now, in the modern world, one of the main ways most of us "hear" the teachings is through reading the texts. Taking the same principle of dāna into account and considering the very low cost (ok, not costless - but I'm sure donations can handle this) of hosting a publication online, it would be the right thing to do for a Buddhist non-profit to make all their texts available online for free - for the benefit of all mankind.

The relationship between dana and Dhamma is complex and symbiotic. It's not simply a matter of "the right thing to do for a Buddhist non-profit". The teachings that I have received from monks (and lay teachers for that matter) is only possible because of lay supporters. No support, no teachers, no teachings. If Westerners want organisations to produce written Dhamma and distribute it freely via the Internet, etc, they are going to have to help to create and/or finance such organisations. Of course, many are already doing this, so it would be hard to argue that anyone with Internet access is short of material.

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Re: Copyright

Postby BudSas » Fri Dec 04, 2009 6:56 am

Hi,

Nowadays, with affordable and fast internet connection and with many Buddhist websites storing large number of Dhamma books, perhaps free distribution of books may not be as relevant as it used to be, when I first became interested in Buddhist study.

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, when Dhamma materials on the Net were not widely available, I think those organisations involved in printing and distributing free Dhamma books did a great service to propagate the Dhamma to the world, especially to people of low income and those living in developing countries.

Having said that, I must also add that I have been subscribing to the BPS (Sri Lanka) as an Associate Member for more than 30 years and I wholeheartedly support their mission.

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Re: Copyright

Postby Chula » Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:00 pm

I was browsing the Buddhist Monastic Code by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .ch04.html) and came across his take on copyright infringement and stealing. He gives many good reasons why it really isn't stealing (in terms of the 2nd precept that is) - I agree and I think the below explanation covers it.

Infringement of copyright. The international standards for copyright advocated by UNESCO state that infringement of copyright is tantamount to theft. However, in practice, an accusation of copyright infringement is judged not as a case of theft but as one of "fair use," the issue being the extent to which a person in possession of an item may fairly copy that item for his/her own use or to give or sell to another person without compensating the copyright owner. Thus even a case of "unfair use" would not fulfill the factors of effort and object under this rule, in that — in creating a copy — one is not taking possession of an item that does not belong to one, and one is not depriving the owners of something already theirs. At most, the copyright owners might claim that they are being deprived of compensation owed to them, but as we have argued above, the principle of compensation owed does not rightly belong under this rule. In the terminology of the Canon, a case of unfair use would fall under either of two categories — acting for the non-gain of the copyright owners or wrong livelihood — categories that entail a dukkaṭa under the general rule against misbehavior (Cv.V.36). They would also make one eligible for a disciplinary transaction, such as reconciliation or banishment (see BMC2, Chapter 20), which the Community could impose if it saw the infringement as serious enough to merit such a punishment.

Manapa wrote:would this reproduction be stealing?
and as such be breaking the 2nd precept found in Theravada Buddhism?
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Re: Copyright

Postby LauraJ » Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:09 pm

Ben wrote:Its a mistake to assume that the only cost of publication is the printing. Having worked for one book publisher, the cost of printing as a total of all production costs was less than 10 percent.
Personally, i think its very important to support publishers of Dhamma Books by buying their publications when possible. By purchasing Dhamma Books one is indirectly funding important translation projects that will not only benefit us right now, but many others well into the futue.
And if one can't afford to purchase this or that Dhamma Book and it is not available online, then one can borrow (even if via inter-library loan) via the public library.


What Ben said ^^
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Re: Copyright

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:12 pm

Hi Chula,
there are two parts of that rule and one part of the analysis which make the argument against it being a theft pointless.

Pr 2
Should any bhikkhu, in what is reckoned a theft, take what is not
given from an inhabited area or from the wilderness — just as when,
in the taking of what is not given,
kings arresting the criminal would
flog, imprison, or banish him, saying, "You are a robber, you are a
fool, you are benighted, you are a thief"
— a bhikkhu in the same way
taking what is not given also is defeated and no longer in affiliation.

The international standards for copyright advocated by UNESCO state that infringement of copyright is tantamount to theft.

how it is actually treated in court to determine whether it is or isn't an infringement is besides the point, because they are not charged with anything until proven guilty, and because it is deemed as tantamount (the same as) to theft if they were proven guilty of an infringement.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Copyright

Postby Chula » Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:26 pm

Hey Manapa,

Yea I agree you do have a point. I guess it could be argued that it's still a Pārājikā, but since there's no actual "taking of what is not given" (only copying - not depriving one of his possessions), I think the 2nd precept isn't broken. Of course this is just my own conjecture, but posting a Dhamma book online being a violation of the second precept just does not make sense to me especially considering the poster is not pursuing monetary benefits.
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Re: Copyright

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:57 pm

hi
because that rule needs reinterpreting for modern times in this regard it, it does for the reasons I pointed out and doesn't for other aspects of the rule, such as the inhabited area!
but it would still fall under the precept with interpretation for copyright simply because the taking of something belonging to another even if they don't know, and they don't find out, would still be theft, plus these have a conditional usage, even if a book (in this case) belonged to you or me, the content of the book doesn't. we are solely bying the right to use the book not the content, and even free distribution books can have conditions of use, such as thanissaros books and books from Amaravati have different conditions, thanissaros conditions are basically do what you like no need to ask permission so long as you don't sell in any way, and Amaravati has the condition of asking permission to quote for any reason above and beyond the standard allowable amount, but reproducing the books for free distribution is granted without permission.
but with Dhammic Books we are buying the Book and the work that goes into the book itself not the Dhamma. and in a way if you think about it you can not buy Dhamma.
anyway having to go out now so won't get another immediate(ish) reply :tongue: back in about 8 hours
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Copyright

Postby Chula » Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:44 pm

Just thinking in terms of the second precept, I think if we redefine what it means whenever the laws of the world changes, then when you break it becomes very relative. For example, in Sri Lanka the concept of copyright is rarely considered or adhered to - especially when it comes to publishing on the Internet. So does that mean it's not breaking the precept to publish a Sri Lankan work online? And when the laws become stringent and enforced does it all of a sudden become a violation of the precept?

I think if we go by what the world considers theft then we will hard time defining what the five precepts entail - especially in this Internet age where immediate replicability makes these matters more complicated. I would stick to looking at in terms of one's intent at the end of the day...
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Re: Copyright

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:33 pm

Hi Chula,

I really don't see the problem, and I feel that these legalistic discussions about precepts completely miss the point. These precepts are just a very minimal level of sila, and it seems clear to me that we should aim to exceed them (e.g. not just not kill, but also mimize harm to other beings).

A key reason for keeping to the precepts is to make us "blameless", so that if anyone accuses us of wrongdoing we are confident that is it not the case. Not that I can always practise this effectively, but it's clear that it leads to a much greater sense of calm when I do.

For example, to pick on a simpler case, I have not drunk alcohol for about three years. So when I encounter a breath-test roadblock I have absolutely no feelings of guilt arising (though I sometimes feel a minor annoyance that it may make me late...). If I had had even one or two of drinks I know I'd be wondering about what might come up on the test. I know I'd be much less calm.

Similarly, if I've broken any law or rule of my employer, etc, it leads to agitation. Will the IRD find out about some payment that I didn't write on my return, etc?

The precepts are voluntary. If you try to keep them you'll feel better and so you'll progress better. If you are doing something that you think might violate a precept ask yourself if you really need to do it, or whether you'd feel better if you didn't.

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Re: Copyright

Postby Chula » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:11 am

Hi Mike,

Exceeding the precept by minimizing harm to other beings might be taken as a call to vegetarianism for example. While it is commendable (I am one myself), it's clear from the multiple examples of eating meat in the suttas that the Buddha wasn't trying to "exceed" the precepts. An person who has done the training just has unshakeable sīla - not a broad application of it in a social context. That's why I think it's important to clarify what constitutes the precepts.

Also to clarify, I'm in no way condoning posting any copyrighted material online - this is merely questioning with regards to the Dhamma (Tipitaka and core translations) which we have access due to people of the past freely handing it down in the first place.

Metta,
Chula

mikenz66 wrote:I really don't see the problem, and I feel that these legalistic discussions about precepts completely miss the point. These precepts are just a very minimal level of sila, and it seems clear to me that we should aim to exceed them (e.g. not just not kill, but also mimize harm to other beings).
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Re: Copyright

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:30 am

Hi Chula,
Chula wrote:Exceeding the precept by minimizing harm to other beings might be taken as a call to vegetarianism for example. While it is commendable (I am one myself), it's clear from the multiple examples of eating meat in the suttas that the Buddha wasn't trying to "exceed" the precepts. An person who has done the training just has unshakeable sīla - not a broad application of it in a social context.

Actually, I wasn't thinking of meat eating at all...
Chula wrote:That's why I think it's important to clarify what constitutes the precepts.

Perhaps, but as I see it the precepts are just a bare minimum to keep us from doing too much bad kamma. I therefore see little value in going through legalistic machinations about them. If you think something is right, go ahead. If not, don't. Whether or not I, or "the forum" approves is not relevant.

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Re: Copyright

Postby suanck » Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:22 am

mikenz66 wrote:The precepts are voluntary. If you try to keep them you'll feel better and so you'll progress better. If you are doing something that you think might violate a precept ask yourself if you really need to do it, or whether you'd feel better if you didn't.


Well said. Sadhu!

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Re: Copyright

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:58 am

hi All,
Interesting turn while I was out!

I had thought my post may of gotten some rougher objection to it as it was half rushed, so I wasn't sure if I was clear, or not?
but looks like I was clear enough :tongue:

redefine may be a poor word, as would be my choice earlier, maybe a better one would be 'understand the new model which would potentially require application,' would be a better, but certainly longer, way??

I see the vinaya as a sort of Vibhanga to the precepts (in some cases), and certainly some can be applicable to the five, eight, or 10, and unfortunately the legalistic take has its uses while discussing this, and any new "interpretations" or 'applicaions based on modern methods needs to be looked at to some degree so we either collectively or individually see the 'dangers' which may not be so obvious to some.
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