Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby PeterB » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:53 am

Sadhu !
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Ben » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:55 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Even legal stuff is expression of lobha.
1) Copy is not taking the original.
2) It is freely given by the ripper.
No. But enjoying, even paid for copy, is still lobha, and is something to be transcended.
You're just too clever for your own good, otherwise known in the vernacular as a "smartass."

Well said, Bhante!
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby zavk » Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:13 am

BlackBird wrote:We have invented this term called 'copyright' which means what it says it means, that a certain legal entity owns the 'right' to determine who can make a copy of this or that object. But a 'right' isn't something physical, it's simply a mutual agreement by certain legal parties that only so and so can decide how copies are produced. Can you steal that right? No, but you can violate it.


Hmmm... this is an interesting point which indicates that the issue is situated within a wider political economic framework which is by no means a static one. This does not negate the need to reflect on whether it is morally right or wrong but it does suggest that the terms of debate could very well change, given how we are moving into a new 'terrain' with open source, a terrain whereby media consumers are increasingly empowered with the means to create, collaborate and share knowledge and products. There IS a change happening. So if anything, this suggests that the issue is not something that is decided once and for all, but rather requires constant vigilance, mindfulness on our part to constantly reflect on the intentions behind our actions as well as the wider conditions framing the issue.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Ben » Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:10 am

Moth wrote:Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Yes. As others have said, copyright breach infringes upon the copyright holder's right to financial return from his or her created asset. It is a concept that is enshrined in copyright laws and treaties around the world. I think its pretty clear.
kind regards

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby meindzai » Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:35 pm

No matter how many ways we try to explain it, people will always have their self justifications for doing things that break the precepts. Most of what I see are technicalities.

There was a story that Zen Master Daido Roshi told in a book about the precepts ("The Heart of Being") about this sort of "smart-assing." He was once at the dinner table with his son, who kept talking and talking and talking. He told him "Shut your mouth and eat your dinner!" Of course, the kid complied by closing his mouth and smashing the food against his closed lips.

Again, seriously, I say the 2nd precept is a freebee. It's hard not to swat a mosquito now and then, the temptations of sexuality are much for some people, dishonesty comes quite naturally and we live in an alcohol drenched society where many find it hard to say no.

But the 2nd precept is a serious no brainer. I don't think most of us go out looting and pickpocketing at night. Why screw it up with piracy because you can justify it on some technicality?

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Annapurna » Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:22 pm

Alex123 wrote:Downloading (copying) does not take (replace) the original from the owner (in fact it increases the amount of possession), so at best, it is incomplete akusala kammapatha. It is also sharing (dāna), especially if you give it to others. So maybe some kusala is possible.

Furthermore, what is "taking another's property"? Being the one who rips the original DVD or CD and gives copies to others for free?
If one downloads what is given for free (by the ripper) what is broken? The owner (the uploader) can give it for free. So from him, it is not "taking what is not given".


"There are five constituents of this act: another's possession, awareness that it is another's possession, the mind to steal, the activity, and the carrying off (of the object) thereby."
Commentary to Samma-Ditthi sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#fnt-8

3 first factors are possibly fulfilled.
4th factor is questionable.
5th factor is not fulfilled.


But if you give this copy to others for free, isn't it dāna (generosity) on your part?

This brings to another question. I understand how personally ripping the DVD to hard drive and posting it could fulfill first 3 of 5 factors. But those who download the file, they are not taking the real owners property. They copy what is freely given by that original DVD ripper? So maybe there isn't even any breaking of 2nd precept. This is digital world of 21st century, not 5th Century BC.


(we can replace DVD with CD from which one rips mp3 music files).


Alex, "Robin Hood", :smile: -that is a bit of bending laws until they fit! ;)

If property of another is ILLEGALLY downloaded, it is just that: Illegal. And that was the question of the topic starter.


4th factor (activity) is questionable.


It is not. The action of an illegal download is illegal, and thus breaking the 2 precept.

5th factor [carrying off]is not fulfilled.


Of course not, because it is not a material good that can be carried like goods in the Buddhas times!

Nevertheless, it is property:

Intellectual property (IP) is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law.[1]

Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Common types of intellectual property include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets in some jurisdictions.

Although many of the legal principles governing intellectual property have evolved over centuries, it was not until the 19th century that the term intellectual property began to be used, and not until the late 20th century that it became commonplace in the United States.[2] The British Statute of Anne 1710 and the Statute of Monopolies 1623 are now seen as the origin of copyright and patent law respectively.[3]


In addition to that, The Buddha often emphazized to respect the "laws" of a land, f.i. in "illicit sex".

An example:

If I use any of Alan's or Ven Appichatos photographs without asking their permission and download them illegally to my machine, I am breaking the 2nd precept.

So I will ask first, and have to accept the reply.

I either buy or get it for free, and that's all there is to think about!

It's the same with music downloads, etc.

If it's illegal, that's all she wrote.

If in doubt, ask permission, and you will find out. That's a general advice to everybody.

More often than not people will give permission and, if that is their livelyhood, downloading their intellectual property without their consent is a grave offence, which leads to enourmous loss if many peope do it, not just "another 10 $".

Hope that makes it clear.

PS:

It is worth a thought if we need to aquire possessions here.

There is always the option to watch something on Youtube etc, WITHOUT a download to one's machine.

And charity to others with stolen goods is no charity.

It's trying to find noble excuses for a bad thing, it's trying to play Robin Hood without having a case.


Illegal downloads are about luxury goods everybody can survive without.

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

Postby saltspring » Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:34 pm

Did anybody here make copies in the 1980's or 90's using cassete or VHS tape? I hope not. Three Hail Mary's and two Our Father Who Art in Heaven's for all the Buddhist stone casters in the crowd.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Alex123 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:43 pm

Ben wrote:
Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Yes. As others have said, copyright breach infringes upon the copyright holder's right to financial return from his or her created asset. It is a concept that is enshrined in copyright laws and treaties around the world. I think its pretty clear.
kind regards


Is copyright a "right" in the sense of Dhamma? Or is it just a commercial invention to make money?
When it comes to copying, you are not taking the original. You are simply duplicating. And chances are the one would not buy it even if they couldn't download it for free. So, no potential money is lost anyways to the "owner".

Of course in ideal sense one should not engage in lobha behaviour by watching movies or listening to music.

As I've said before, there is no 100% correlation between what is legal in the world and what is proper in Dhamma.
Soldiers are allowed to kill the enemy, and may even be rewarded for it. Is this legal activity harmless from Dhamma perspective?
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby mirco » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:03 pm

Hi Alex,
Alex123 wrote:
mirco wrote:We will not be able to deepen meditation unless we stop breaking the precepts, no matter how good we are in adjusting our views to our greedy needs.
This is the question. Does it really break the 2nd precept? One does copy what is freely given.
1) Copy is not taking the original.
2) It is freely given by the ripper.

I think, one has to try it out for oneself. Trusting feeling/intuition, watching mind.

Alex123 wrote:
mirco wrote:The question is, does copying, using and sharing what is freely given by the ripper help to attain Nibbana even faster?

No. But enjoying, even paid for copy, is still lobha, and is something to be transcended.

That's for sure.

I'm off this discussion now,
Be well, Mirco :)
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Kare » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:44 pm

Ben wrote:
Moth wrote:Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Yes. As others have said, copyright breach infringes upon the copyright holder's right to financial return from his or her created asset. It is a concept that is enshrined in copyright laws and treaties around the world. I think its pretty clear.
kind regards

Ben


Well said. I participated in another buddhist forum until recently the Administrator defended and argued for illegal downloading. I left that forum and am no longer a member.
Mettāya,
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby BlackBird » Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:24 am

Ben wrote:Well said, Bhante!


If you happened to disagree with Venerable's position, would you still regard calling someone a smartass as 'well said'?

I don't really agree with the drift of Alex's posts, but the important point he and I have made is that you're violating a right, not stealing an item nor depriving it's owner of their posession, because you are simply producing another copy of it.

I happen to think the Buddha would be against pirating goods, it's not the right thing to do for someone looking to make progress in the Dhamma, in light of the 4 great standards. However does it violate the 2nd precept? Technically no. I think this is a case that it doesn't break the letter, but it does break the spirit of the rule.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby 123ertyy » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:16 am

Im trying my best to be with Ubuntu, and i use Blender/ gimp and inkscape... but when the Diploma that i do needs their projects through photoshop/ illustrator/ and after effects i have to switch to windows 7, which i have not purchased. But theres nothing i can do as a student-(it ends in August hopefully :))... So to take care of the bad effects on my future life, i will keep on giving Dana as much as i can. :)
We die someday.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Annapurna » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:09 am

Alex123 wrote:
Ben wrote: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Yes. As others have said, copyright breach infringes upon the copyright holder's right to financial return from his or her created asset. It is a concept that is enshrined in copyright laws and treaties around the world. I think its pretty clear.
kind regards


Is copyright a "right" in the sense of Dhamma?


Yes.

Or is it just a commercial invention to make money?


Trading was not forbidden by the Buddha.

When it comes to copying, you are not taking the original. You are simply duplicating.


A potatoe farmer also duplicates a potatoe...

Commercial distribution of intellectual property is just like duplicating potatoes and corn. This is feeding you and him, brother... :smile:
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby pulga » Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:18 pm

I recently subscribed to scribd.com in order to download what the website has to offer. The site is quite popular, used even by a good many book publishers to advertise books that they have for sale -- they merely block the download option, or provide limited portions of the hardcopy. There are however some books that are hard to come by, and expensive, that one can download free of change that have been uploaded by subscribers. Are these considered illegal? I do pay a monthly subscription fee, and there doesn't seem to be the sort of hostility towards the site that Napster generated from the music industry. Is this a gray area, a quid pro quo, that publishers have come to accept?
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Alex123 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:44 pm

Annapurna wrote:A potatoe farmer also duplicates a potatoe...
Commercial distribution of intellectual property is just like duplicating potatoes and corn. This is feeding you and him, brother... :smile:


That potato being a physical object, can be stolen, displaced and physically taken away from the owner so that the farmer no longer has it.

Copying a file does not displace the physical object. The original is not displaced, and not even touched.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby SamKR » Thu Apr 28, 2011 6:19 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Annapurna wrote:A potatoe farmer also duplicates a potatoe...
Commercial distribution of intellectual property is just like duplicating potatoes and corn. This is feeding you and him, brother... :smile:


That potato being a physical object, can be stolen, displaced and physically taken away from the owner so that the farmer no longer has it.

Copying a file does not displace the physical object. The original is not displaced, and not even touched.


Copying a file does "displace" the income of the owner, which is "physical" object. That's why it would violate the 2nd precept. But temptation is always there since it is so easy to do, and apparently seems to be a violation of relatively lesser gravity than directly stealing a physical object.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Alex123 » Fri Apr 29, 2011 1:37 am

SamKR wrote:[
Copying a file does "displace" the income of the owner,


Not necessarily. If the person wouldn't buy that copy anyway, no income is lost anyway.

which is "physical" object.


Currency value is NOT a physical object, and it is NOT anymore tied to physical object (like gold). Today in the digital age, it is just a number.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby andre9999 » Fri Apr 29, 2011 3:27 am

Alex123 wrote:Not necessarily. If the person wouldn't buy that copy anyway, no income is lost anyway.


Even if it's not stealing, then when you're describing is just unskillful greed - and that still breaks the 2nd precept last time I checked.


Just to remind us what the 2nd precept actually is, since the thread has degenerated into being about whether illegally downloaded music is stealing or not:
I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:14 am

Thank you Andre!
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby SamKR » Fri Apr 29, 2011 7:03 am

Alex123 wrote:
Not necessarily. If the person wouldn't buy that copy anyway, no income is lost anyway.



But what if he would buy it if he cannot [or does not want to] copy? For example, though I use Ubuntu OS in my computer, I had to get Windows since some softwares I need runs in Windows only. Although I could get illegal copy of Windows 7 easily from my friends, I decided to purchase its student version in about 30 dollars. Microsoft would not have earned that USD 30 if I had used the illegal Windows 7, and I would have been using something that wasn't given freely.

Currency value is NOT a physical object, and it is NOT anymore tied to physical object (like gold). Today in the digital age, it is just a number.


Then if I hack into another person's bank account and transfer his money to my account, won't it violate 2nd precept [as your post implies such money is also not "physical"]? Such transfer via online banking account is actually just a transfer of some numbers, right?
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