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 mikenz66 » Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:28 am

danieLion wrote:
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".

They are advanced teachings of the Buddha.
danieLion wrote:
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"?

metta

Just the run-of-the-mill meaning. That you might be breaking the law, get yelled at, that sort of thing. Anything that makes you nervous about what you are doing. Nothing deep or specific to Buddha-Dhamma, except that if you feel guilty or nervous it's distracting.

To spell it out in an extreme way, if you're worried the police are going to break down your door because you stole something, or killed someone, then that's not going to very conducive to Dhamma practice...

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

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:27 am

chownah wrote:So downloading the same stuff is legal in Switzerland and illegal in the USofA. So is the 2nd precept a matter of geography?


One factor in transgression of this precept is that the thing taken is adinna, a thing-not-given.

A thing counts as a given-thing if it comes into one's possession (possession being defined in the KhpA as "capability to use or dispose of it as one pleases") in such a manner as would neither incur the punishment of rulers (raajada.n.da) nor be "criticised by the wise" (vi~n~nuugarahita). If either of these stipulations is not fulfilled, then it's a thing-not-given.

The "punishment of rulers" clause means that the second precept is not separable from the geographical factor of local property laws. On the other hand, the "criticised by the wise" clause means that the precept is not wholly subservient to geography. It's a safeguard against the kind of geographical relativism that avers such and such to be okay if done in Switzerland but not if done in Swaziland.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Hanzze » Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:43 am

A layperson's skillfulness

"And how is one made pure in three ways by bodily action? There is the case where a certain person, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from the taking of life. He dwells with his rod laid down, his knife laid down, scrupulous, merciful, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings. Abandoning the taking of what is not given, he abstains from taking what is not given. He does not take, in the manner of a thief, things in a village or a wilderness that belong to others and have not been given by them. Abandoning sensual misconduct, he abstains from sensual misconduct. He does not get sexually involved with those who are protected by their mothers, their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their relatives, or their Dhamma; those with husbands, those who entail punishments, or even those crowned with flowers by another man. This is how one is made pure in three ways by bodily action."

— AN X 176


Wilderness is a very good synonym for internet. It's pretty usual and even not against the law in many countries to walk into the forest and take what one likes. Why? Because nearly all all do so. So sometimes such things are accepted by law (general agreement) and even by those called "wise" (they already have fallen into corruption for a long time).
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: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:05 am

well the problem here is that people are making conventional and spiritual precepts the same.
the first four precepts of the five precepts are worldly precepts, i.e. the world (society, law) deems them inappropriate, however what society deeps inappropriate changes over time, sexual misconduct, for example, as described in the suttas would be considered broken by many in modern times where in the texts it would not of been in all cases, such as poligamy; hiring a prostitute; courtesan...
the same is true here, as theft is a worldly precept, when something is similar (i.e. when the UN or other governmental agency) deams something tantamount to, or there is a prosecution due to the possibility of infringement (in this case) the precept is broken when the act is knowingly done, when applying the four great standards, (which do need applied at times to lay precepts also)
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"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: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Maarten » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:24 pm

I think the idea of intellectual ownership is ridiculous. Lets say I were to “own” every single musical note. Then I could ban others from using these notes and be the only one in the world with the right to compose music. To me that is crazy.
Ideas are also not unique, there are always others who came up with the same idea completely on their own. Why would they not deserve the same rights?
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:03 pm

Maarten,
Can I suggest that you read the whole of this thread so that others don't have to write it all again for you?
Maarten wrote:I think the idea of intellectual ownership is ridiculous.

Starting with your conclusion is a really good way of reaching it.
Maarten wrote:Lets say I were to “own” every single musical note. Then I could ban others from using these notes and be the only one in the world with the right to compose music. To me that is crazy.

To everyone that is crazy. In fact, it is a strawman argument.
Maarten wrote:Ideas are also not unique, there are always others who came up with the same idea completely on their own. Why would they not deserve the same rights?

They do. Anything that anyone creates on their own is their own property, automatically. That does not mean that appropriating others' work is okay, any more than appropriating others' apples, instead of growing your own, is okay.

:namaste:
Kim

Edit: fixed typo. :embarassed:
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:43 pm

Greetings my friends,

I wonder if anyone who has taken the side which supports illegal downloading has actually released a product of the fruits of their creative efforts. I have, as have many of my acquaintances. When you find one of your books or DVDs on a torrents site it causes a sick feeling. So much so I have many friends, very creative people, who have stopped production because they've said, "Why bother? The creeps will just pirate it and put it up on the Internet." So not only does this practice hurt the creator, it hurts the audience, as creators cease production in despair.

I think there is an attitude of entitlement, that many people feel they have a "right" to the fruits of other's creative efforts and talents, without paying, that information, services and damn near everything else should be given freely and without recompense. Fine. You give me something in return and I'll reciprocate; I love the barter system. But as old Heinlien loved to say, TANSTAAFL kiddies.

When I find my material on a torrents site I immediately contact the host with a DMCA takedown notice and have it removed. If they do not comply, my attorney gets involved. This is how strongly I, as a creator of original material, feel about this issue. As for the question of whether or not it takes money away from the creator, yes, it does. My sales go down when one of my products is torrented, and goes back up when I have the torrent removed. Unfortunately people, like water, seek their own level,and it's often the path of least resistance, so if they can get something they want for free, they will do so, and if they can't they'll pay for it. If it's a luxury item like music, movies or a book, they'll find a way to pay for it if they really want it. As someone pointed out, it ain't insulin, they don't need it to live. If you can't afford it don't get it. I wanted a piano but I didn't go out and steal one; I put money away in a savings account until I could buy it. The same principle applies here.

I'm about to publish a fiction series in e-book format with a website and extensive Internet marketing to promote it. I know there will be pirating even though the e-books will be reasonably priced at around $2.99 each, and the audio books at around $9.99. And I will be diligent at having the torrents removed, because I believe creativity and hard work should be rewarded, but I'm old-fashioned that way.

My two cents,

The Bubba
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Sep 14, 2012 12:35 am

:thumbsup:
Well said, BB!

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

Postby Hanzze » Fri Sep 14, 2012 12:58 am

At a good level of observing "Not taking what is not given" download it self would be not easy, so there would be no doubt at all in regard of illegal download.

Believe in something that is called "right" just makes the work on deeds impossible.
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: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:28 am

agreed, well said BB
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"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: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Buckwheat » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:59 pm

kudos, BB :thumbsup:
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Maarten » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:51 pm

Hi Kim.

Sorry if my opinion insulted you in any way, this was not my intention.

Kim O'Hara wrote:To everyone that is crazy. In fact, it is a strawman argument.

Why do you think this is this a strawman argument?
I don't see the difference between “owning” one note or owning a sequence of notes. In fact, if owing a single note is ridiculous isn't owning a sequence of them even more absurd?

Kim O'Hara wrote:They do. Anything that anyone creates on their own is their own property, automatically. That does not mean that appropriating others' work is okay, any more than appropriating others' apples, instead of growing your own, is okay.

This is incorrect, I like to make tunes on my guitar, and after making one I often discover others have come up with this same idea. Once I also came up with a thought experiment that later turned out to be a thought experiment by David Hume.
Another example of this is when artists sue each other because they think the other one stole their tune. To me it is more likely they just invented the same sequence of notes. These artist should have listened to every copyrighted song ever composed to make sure they don't get into trouble for making a song.

May you be well and happy! :twothumbsup:
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:47 pm

Maarten wrote:Hi Kim.
Sorry if my opinion insulted you in any way, this was not my intention.

Hi, Maarten,
You did not insult me, but I do - still - think you are wrong. Can I suggest - again - that you read the whole of this thread so that we don't have to repeat ourselves?

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

Postby Maarten » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:49 pm

Imagine scientists invented a device that could copy food. Would it not be highly immoral of someone to copyright the food and then charge money for the copied food? If it was not for these copyright laws the hunger problems in the world would be solved and lives would be saved.
Imagine someone owning copyright on medicine they invented...
Imagine someone owning copyright on medical /psychological treatments they invented...
Imagine someone owning and selling the Dhamma...
All of these would cost lives.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Maarten » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:53 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Maarten wrote:Hi Kim.
Sorry if my opinion insulted you in any way, this was not my intention.

Hi, Maarten,
You did not insult me, but I do - still - think you are wrong. Can I suggest - again - that you read the whole of this thread so that we don't have to repeat ourselves?

:namaste:
Kim


Okay I will read this later as it will take up quite a lot of time! :D
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby matais » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:17 am

I initially didn't want to post here, since this is a topic that I can get extremely argumentative about, but I feel there's some things that really need to be pointed out. Apologies in advance for a rather long post.

The second precept is to refrain from taking what is not given. So to see how this precept affects downloading and uploading copyrighted material (and copyright in general), we should investigate what it is that is given in the case of buying the material.
The obvious answer, that what is given is the actual file itself, is legally incorrect. The file, or more accurately its representation on the disk as a string of 1's and 0's, usually doesn't become your property. After all, if it truly became your property, you would be allowed to copy it, modify it, give it away, whatever you want really. But these rights are usually retained by either the author or some publisher, and doing those things is a crime. Though you receive the file after buying it in an online store like the iTunes store, it does not become yours.
What you're actually given is a use right. In the case of an audio file, it's the right to listen to it. In the case of a movie, it's the right to watch it. These rights are severely restricted too. For example, even though you're usually allowed to watch a movie you bought with friends or family, you're usually not allowed to watch this same movie with co-workers at the workplace.

So when you download copyrighted material, you're taking a use right. When you upload copyrighted material, you're taking a right to redistribute. Both of these rights are abstract entities which the copyright holder has in unlimited supply, and which only they are allowed to give away (though they can license others to do so as well).

With that established, lets explore what this means.

First the download case. Though you are taking the use right, you're not taking what is not given. After all, clearly there's someone giving it. A downloader doesn't sneak into someone's house to get it, they're offered the opportunity to download. I believe others in this thread have already pointed out that this is similar to the case in the monastic code where a groundskeeper of an orchard gives away fruit that was not his to give away, without the bikkhus receiving the fruit committing an offense.

Far more interesting is the case of the uploader, or more generically, the redistributor. It is interesting because the law here leads to situations that few people would recognize as theft, but which would be a break of the second precept anyway if we consider rights as objects that can be taken and given.
Let's start with the basics. Suppose someone uploads a copyrighted movie to a website. What they're taking is the right to distribute and, for each download, the right to watch for the downloader. Both of these can only properly be given by the copyright holder, so the second precept is broken. So far so good, right? But now lets extend that logic.
  • Translating a book (or converting it to braille script) and giving it to someone else is copyright infringement, even if said person owns the original. Only the copyright holder may create and distribute a derivative work, so this would be the taking of a non-given right and therefore it breaks the second precept.
  • Printing a website creates a copy of a copyrighted work. Only the copyright holder may give one this right, so doing so without permission breaks the second precept.
  • Drawing Mickey Mouse and putting the result on your homepage is copyright infringement. Disney owns the image of Mickey Mouse, and they're the only ones allowed to create derivative works and distribute them. Even if you drew this picture yourself it is still illegal, and if we accept that this constitutes the taking of rights that were not given by Disney, this clearly breaks the second precept.
  • Public performances are copyright infringement. The use right generally granted when you buy a copyrighted work does not grant the right to use this however you please.
    • As I wrote briefly above, watching a legally bought movie at the workplace with your coworkers would be breaking the second precept. After all, you were only given a use right for watching at home, not for a public screening.
    • Playing copyrighted music at an office party is breaking the second precept as well for the same reason.
    • Reading a children's book aloud in the library for the entertainment of children is also a public performance and thus breaks the second precept.
    • Choreography is also covered under copyright law. Suppose that a class wants to perform some dances from High School Musical for their family. If they do, they're breaking the second precept.
    • Singing the song 'Happy Birthday' at a restaurant would also break the second precept. The lyrics and melody of this song are copyrighted by Warner Music Group (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Birt ... ght_status), and unless you obtain a license from them, a public performance would be taking this license without it being given.
All these cases, both those generally seen as piracy and those that aren't, have in common that they involve a right being taken without being given. That which would make downloading a break of the second precept would make all of them a break of the second precept.

Now, I have a big problem with this. If we say that the above indeed breaks the second precept, not only do we stretch the definition of stealing to the point of it being unrecognizable, we also say that what is and is not covered by this precept can be changed. It means that the word of the Buddha and the precepts can be superseded by the demands of the likes of Disney Corporation and Time Warner. Let's not forget that copyright did not exist before the 18th century, and has changed a lot since then, often under corporate pressure. Inevitably there'll be new laws in the future too, turning an ever-increasing amount of abstract objects into property. Will the second precept change accordingly? Furthermore, since property laws are different in different countries, does that mean there are actions that would break the second precept in one country, but not in another?

In my opinion, 'taking what is not given' can not refer to something abstract like a right. And by extension, I don't think that the second precept covers copyright infringement.

That is not to say that copyright infringement can't be unskillful. But in fact, lots of things not covered by the precepts are unskillful. Punching someone in the face is unskillful, but unless the punch kills someone, none of the 5 precepts are against it. Calling someone harsh names is unskillful, but unless a lie is spoken, none of the 5 precepts covers this. Copyright infringement can in fact hurt. Calling it theft though is ridiculous.
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Hanzze » Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:23 am

Dear matais,

since this is a topic that I can get extremely argumentative about

honest, not at all but if caught in a thicket of thoughts of possession endless.

From a Dhamma viewpoint, there is neither something that can be called a generally right on anything (there are given things), nor is there something that can becalled possession.

A right would be something given, if it is given, then it is a right. From a worldly aspect, if one tolerates autorities, chiefs, leader, that there is the possibility for a right. So as long as somebody is involved in worldy business, he needs to look which right is given, which means that he should carefully know the laws in regard of the construction ownership to get no problems.

A struggle between precepts and usually use begins when the main problem the root is not well observed: intention. IF somebody understands that it is not very just to do something, has doubt or bad feeling in regard of it, that it is because he simply still wants to have it (intention).
To walk a way of much likes while trying to obsere precepts very eagerly is not possible and that is good so, as the also should minimize wants. So a good portion of letting go as well as creativity in regard of using what is already given or freely given is nessesary. One should not meassure with usuals.

I refered mostly in regard of livelihood, to speak in regard of entertainment, I guess does not need any argument at all as there is no need to break his head at all. Simply unwholesome from the very beginning and not worthy for thought at all.
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: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Maarten » Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:21 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Maarten wrote:Hi Kim.
Sorry if my opinion insulted you in any way, this was not my intention.

Hi, Maarten,
You did not insult me, but I do - still - think you are wrong. Can I suggest - again - that you read the whole of this thread so that we don't have to repeat ourselves?

:namaste:
Kim


It is an interesting tread with many good points made. I would like to clarify that I am not arguing in favor of illegal downloading. I am arguing against Intellectual ownership. I have downloaded and must admit that it does give rise to some uncomfortable feelings and therefore I think it's better to refrain from doing it.
Intellectual ownership also does not feel quite right to me. I could not understand exactly why until I read the post explaining that all ownership is intellectual. This made me understand I am actually against ownership in general! :o This is because any kind of ownership is always the product of greed. I also think ownership is a delusion. Since all ownership is intellectual, it is a quality that we project upon the world. It's nothing more that an idea in our minds and it results in a lot of suffering.

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

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:40 pm

Maarten wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Maarten wrote:Hi Kim.
Sorry if my opinion insulted you in any way, this was not my intention.

Hi, Maarten,
You did not insult me, but I do - still - think you are wrong. Can I suggest - again - that you read the whole of this thread so that we don't have to repeat ourselves?

:namaste:
Kim


It is an interesting tread with many good points made. I would like to clarify that I am not arguing in favor of illegal downloading. I am arguing against Intellectual ownership. I have downloaded and must admit that it does give rise to some uncomfortable feelings and therefore I think it's better to refrain from doing it.
Intellectual ownership also does not feel quite right to me. I could not understand exactly why until I read the post explaining that all ownership is intellectual. This made me understand I am actually against ownership in general! :o This is because any kind of ownership is always the product of greed. I also think ownership is a delusion. Since all ownership is intellectual, it is a quality that we project upon the world. It's nothing more that an idea in our minds and it results in a lot of suffering.

Much metta :D

Thanks for reading, Maarten, and I am glad it clarified your thinking. :smile:

:namaste:
Kim
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Re: Does illegal downloading violate the 2nd precept?

Postby Buckwheat » Mon Sep 17, 2012 4:27 am

Maarten wrote:I don't see the difference between “owning” one note or owning a sequence of notes.

Then I suggest studying some music theory.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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