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 Fede » Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:24 pm

chownah wrote:.....

If I have a friend in Switzerand download something legally and then send my brother (in the USofA) a copy is that breaking the 2nd precept?

If my brother(in the USofA) uses a proxy server located in Switzerland to download something at his home (in the USofA) is that breaking the 2nd precept?

chownah

Only if meat is directly killed for you, or you specifically kill the animal yourself, is it wrong to eat meat.

I think, with some modification, the same applies.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Moggalana » Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:17 pm

Fede wrote:
chownah wrote:.....

If I have a friend in Switzerand download something legally and then send my brother (in the USofA) a copy is that breaking the 2nd precept?

If my brother(in the USofA) uses a proxy server located in Switzerland to download something at his home (in the USofA) is that breaking the 2nd precept?

chownah

Only if meat is directly killed for you, or you specifically kill the animal yourself, is it wrong to eat meat.

I think, with some modification, the same applies.

Probably. This reminds me of the psychology and neuroscience of the trolley problem. Almost everyone would flip the switch to kill one and save five, but most would hesitate to push the fat man down (and kill him) in order the save the five others. Proximity does make a difference on how we feel about ethical decisions. That parallel is interesting and it hints at the fact that kamma is mainly a psychological principle and not some mystical punishment/reward system where you can gain or lose points for doing something. A lot of people would prefer absolute norms but humans are, for the most part, ethical relativists. That's why there is so much disagreement about downloading (and everything else...). Most would say that borrowing a CD from a friend is OK but what about copying that CD? Or what about borrowing his legally purchased mp3s and not deleting them after you have listened to them? Or what about downloading mp3s without paying? And, finally, what about stealing a CD from a shop? What do you feel is right (or wrong) and where do you draw the line? There is not one, absolute correct answer to those questions. But that's just my opinion, of course.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Buckwheat » Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:41 pm

On a similar line of thinking:
http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_on_ ... _code.html

Some points he makes include falsifying the idea that cheating is similar to an economic cost benefit analysis. Instead, cheating is based on their proximity to the perception of cheating and out ability to cheat a little bit and still feel good about ourselves. In the study, there are not "cheaters" and "non-cheaters". Instead, everybody cheats a little bit, based on their accepting a little bit of impurity. Cheating is not affected by changing the cost/benefit ratios of cheating (changing the consequences or difficulty of cheating). When reminded about morality right before the test, honesty rose. When the unethical consequences were made more explicit, honesty rose. When unethical consequences were made more subtle, cheating rose.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby chownah » Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:03 am

Fede and Moggalana,
I may be mistaken but It seems to me that your replies are predicated on the belief that legally downloading an item in Switzerland is a breach of the 2nd precept.....is this your belief?
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Moggalana » Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:09 am

chownah wrote:Fede and Moggalana,
I may be mistaken but It seems to me that your replies are predicated on the belief that legally downloading an item in Switzerland is a breach of the 2nd precept.....is this your belief?
chownah

Not my opinion. But I can see how it can seem that way.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Buckwheat » Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:39 pm

I want to add a slightly tangential point: Will this be an issue in 20 years? It seems entertainers are modifying their business models to take advantage of the cheap distribution available on the internet. Louis CK recently made a profit on a stand-up special by distributing it for $5 on the internet, with no technological controls, only a plea: if you want more of these specials, pay the $5, please. It worked. Most people payed.

http://thenextweb.com/media/2011/12/22/ ... o-charity/
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Sekha » Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:18 am

Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Ferox » Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:41 am

I came to see it on my own insight as part of the second precept and I made the choice on my own to make sure I do not do it anymore. Over the years I've downloaded or copied my share of movies, music, and video games, and the older i've gotten and further along in my development, I have come to the above mentioned conclusion.


so the answer is within you really, whichever answer it is.
-just one more being treading the ancient path of Dhamma-
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby rowboat » Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:37 pm

I'm not sure yet what my position is on the question of file sharing, though when it comes to the precept, fortunately the only "files" I happen to "share" are not illegal to download -- speaking of the amazing number of free dhamma ebooks on the internet that I can store on my snappy Kindle DX. :smile:

Prominent opponent of contemporary copyright laws Nina Paley, director of the film Sita Sings the Blues, presents her argument in the form of a pretty catchy tune. Nina Paley also created the beautiful work to follow titled All Creative Work Is Derivative






Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Bodhisurfer » Sun Feb 26, 2012 5:33 pm

Ferox wrote:I came to see it on my own insight as part of the second precept and I made the choice on my own to make sure I do not do it anymore. Over the years I've downloaded or copied my share of movies, music, and video games, and the older i've gotten and further along in my development, I have come to the above mentioned conclusion.


so the answer is within you really, whichever answer it is.



:clap:
ditto :)
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Yana » Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:35 am

Moth wrote:One monk I asked said yes, and wouldn't even take offered software if it wasn't legitimate. Another said it was a type of sharing and did not break the precept. What do you folks think?


Oww nooooo..u gotta be kidding me! :cry:
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Maarten2 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:18 pm

I thought really deeply about this issue, maybe way more than I should have.

If we say someone else owns a picture or a movie or a song, it does not matter if you change the brightness, play it backwards, or play it using a different instrument, so what they are actually owning is the abstract idea of that picture, movie or song. So, the first question I thought about is: Is physical property really the same as intellectual property? Or in other words: can someone really own an idea the same way someone can own a spoon, a house, a piece of land? At first I though this notion is actually ridiculous. But I then I realized that all property is intellectual property. If you own something there is really no natural law that says: this is yours. The written and unwritten rules of our society determine what is yours and what is mine. If these rules say that you can own an idea, than that is no more or less ridiculous than owning a spoon or a piece of land [1].

The second question I thought about is: Even if someone can own an idea, you are not really taking it away from them, are you? But the answer is you are taking something else: their right to be the only one to copy or reproduce that idea. This is what they were owning in the first place: a right - the copyright. So is it against the second precept to take away a right [2]? I think we can reasonably conclude that it is. For example if you are stealing money, you are also not stealing the paper, but really the right to exchange that paper for goods and services. So you if put a picture on the internet without permission, you are depriving the copyright owner of their right to be the only one to makes copies of that pictures, which would be against the second precept.

The final question I thought about is this: In the typical case we are not actually taking something something from a person, but from a big multinational cooperation, is this really the same for the sake of this precept? I think it is. This cooperation has shareholders who are humans, you are taking something from them: the right to own a part of the company that owns the right to be the only one to copy an idea.

So, what about the case were it is actually legal to download that copyrighted work? Contrary to what has been said before, I would say that would be the same as taking something that you known is stolen, but not the same as stealing yourself in my interpretation of this precept.

So, at this point are probably wondering what I am trying to say with this post. I am not sure myself, but I think it is that these things have become so complicated, abstract and ridiculous, that it is really impossible to give a sensible answer anymore. :shrug:

Footnotes:

[1] I also thought, that maybe the intended meaning of the second precept was not to make us observe the rules of our society with respect to property, but to respect the emotions of another person when we take something away from them. But then stealing would be okay if the owner did not notice, I think that can not be what the Buddha meant.
[2] Strictly speaking if I look at the Pali translation for taking here is might not be true, because you don’t have that right afterwards.
Last edited by Maarten2 on Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:55 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:43 pm

Maarten2 wrote:I thought really deeply about this issue, maybe way more than I should have.

Let me first answer a related question: Does illegal uploading (file sharing) violate the second precept?

If we say someone owns a picture or a movie or a song, it does not matter if they change the brightness, play it backwards, or play it using a different instrument, so what they are actually owning is the abstract idea of that picture, movie or song. So, the first question I thought about is: Is physical property really the same as intellectual property? Or in other words: can someone really own an idea the same way someone can own a spoon, a house, a piece of land? At first I though this notion is actually ridiculous. But I then I realized that all property is intellectual property. If you own something there is really no natural law that says: this is yours. The written and unwritten rules of our society determine what is yours and what is mine. If these rules say that you can own an idea, than that is no more or less ridiculous than owning a spoon or a piece of land [1].

The problem with conflating the two is that, while taking a spoon deprives you of your right to use the spoon, taking your idea or downloading an image you made does not deprive you of the right to use it. That's the important distinction; physical property is affected by scarcity, while intellectual property is not.

The second question I thought about is: Even if someone can own an idea, you are not really taking it away from them, are you? But the answer is you are taking something else: their right to be the only one to copy or reproduce that idea. This is what they were owning in the first place: a right - the copyright. So is it against the second precept to take away a right [2]? I think we can reasonably conclude that it is. For example if you are stealing money, you are not stealing the paper, but really the right to exchange that paper for goods and services. So you if put a picture on the internet without permission, you are depriving the copyright owner of the their copyright, which would be against the second precept.

But where in the Tipitaka (or any logical system) do you base your belief in the sanctity of copyright?

To me, "Adinnādānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi" is clearly referring to not taking anything which is not freely given. Copyright or not, if the producer of a work does not want you to have it, it violates the precept to take it against their wishes. That is my opinion.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Maarten2 » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:35 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:To me, "Adinnādānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi" is clearly referring to not taking anything which is not freely given. Copyright or not, if the producer of a work does not want you to have it, it violates the precept to take it against their wishes. That is my opinion.

So what if the producer sells the copyright to a record label and the record label says you are not allowed to have it? If you say this is the same then you believe in the sanctity of copyright just as much as I do. If not, then you would be saying that illegal downloading is only against the precept in a very specific and rare case.

EDIT: Also, I don't understand completely what you are saying in general. First you say that intellectual property is not the same as physical property for the sake of this precept, but then you are saying that the precept does apply to a creative work? Isn't that contradictory?
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby danieLion » Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:35 am

Maarten2 wrote:If you own something there is really no natural law that says: this is yours. The written and unwritten rules of our society determine what is yours and what is mine.

Now, apply the logic the Buddha used when he taught people to see the aggregates as not mine to what you've said here.

How does that feel?

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:42 am

I don't think it makes sense to apply deep teachings of the aggregates to the precepts. The precepts have to do with dealing with the mundane world in a non-combative and non-destructive way, to give us the basic calm necessary for further development. Looking at the precepts in that way, anything that you might feel guilty about is best avoided.

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

Postby danieLion » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:02 am

What makes something mine?
Locke (Second Treatise on Government) said what makes it yours is mixing your labor with it. But that can't be all the whole story.

When you're eating, is the food on the plate yours? If you ask your hunger, it'll tell you "yes"; if you ask a hungry thief sitting across from you, he'd likely disagree. There, some of the choices are to defend "your" food or share. The thief's not likely to point out your clinging (via hunger for physical nutriment) as stingy defilement but simply take it by force or cunning. But when is the food yours? On your plate? On your fork? In your mouth? In your gut? Right before your deposit it in the toilet? And if we can't pin down ownership with physical food, how much less can we say about intellectual "things"?

For the one having/possessing the lessons are generosity and letting go. PTS, BPS, Wisdom, & Bhikkhu Bodhi pass this "test" IMO (see viewtopic.php?f=13&t=12705&start=20#p192073 & viewtopic.php?f=13&t=12705&start=20#p192106).

For the one lacking/not possessing the lesson is craving. This is hard for egalitarians, but alas, the Buddha taught that even EQUALITY is wrong view.

For both, the lesson is to stand up to defilement in one's heart and the world BUT to be guided by wise compassion in knowing when, where and how to do it or refrain from doing it skillfully. In my experience (and I think the Buddha would've concurred) standing up to the former not only takes precedence over the latter but when you look within before looking without you'll inevitably see the true nature of "mine" in a way that also helps you see the benefits of generosity.

'He insulted me, hit me, beat me, robbed me' — for those who brood on this, hostility isn't stilled. 'He insulted me, hit me, beat me, robbed me' — for those who don't brood on this, hostility is stilled. Hostilities aren't stilled through hostility, regardless. Hostilities are stilled through non-hostility: this, an unending truth. Unlike those who don't realize that we're here on the verge of perishing, those who do: their quarrels are stilled.

-Yamakavagga 3-6
metta
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:09 am

And the relevance of all that to the precepts is what?

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

Postby danieLion » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:29 am

mikenz66 wrote:And the relevance of all that to the precepts is what?

:anjali:
Mike

It's not addressed to the relevance of the precepts. It's addressed specifically to the OP.
Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept? One monk I asked said yes, and wouldn't even take offered software if it wasn't legitimate. Another said it was a type of sharing and did not break the precept. What do you folks think?

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

Postby danieLion » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:34 am

mikenz66 wrote:I don't think it makes sense to apply deep teachings of the aggregates to the precepts.

There not so "deep", unless I've misunderstood what you mean by "deep".

mikenz66 wrote:Looking at the precepts in that way, anything that you might feel guilty about is best avoided.

In what way?

What do yo mean by "guilt"?

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