percept nb. 2 and copyright

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percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby ciprian » Sat Jan 09, 2010 7:48 pm

:embarassed: I have to admit that from time to time I download music, movies from the internet. I usually thought that I do no harm so I never paid too much attention to it.
Now, at the end of 2009 I made a resolution to get rid of the pirated software, music, movies.
I got stuck at firs step: a genuine windows. I am a little short on cash now.
A friend of mine (IT specialist) said that Bill Gates stated that he doesn't mind home users to use pirated microsoft products, so it is ok to use them at home. I don't know what to say. To me it looks like Bill Gates's statement (if exists) could be translated thus: "Home users cans steal from Microsoft, I won't press charges" but it is still a theft. Am I right? If so, can someone recommend me a Linux distribution that is more easy to use by someone who doesn't know too much about linux. I tried linux some years ago and I remember that installing a software was pretty challenging. There was always something missing and needed to be installed first, and after that something else...

Thank you! :heart:
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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby Moggalana » Sat Jan 09, 2010 8:36 pm

You might want to try Ubuntu Linux. Installation is simple and pretty much everything works.

As for the precept, I don't know. You could see it as stealing, but then again "internet piracy" is not considered to be a crime in every country. In Spain for example, downloading music, movies or software is totally legal as long as you don't make any profit from it. At least it was a few months ago.

Maybe you could compare it to the precept about not-killing any living being. You should not kill, but you can eat meat (that's already dead [and wasn't killed for you]). Similiar, you should not take what is not given, but can you take what is given to you by someone else(i.e. filesharing), who himself took it without permission?

A lot of buddhists do not eat meat because of the indirect suffering that is caused. So, the question is: does filesharing increase suffering (at least indirectly)? You will find many opinions about that particular question. Most of the time, ethics isn't a matter of just black and white. That's my opinion at least.
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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby Ben » Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:57 pm

Hi ciprian

A friend of mine (IT specialist) said that Bill Gates stated that he doesn't mind home users to use pirated microsoft products, so it is ok to use them at home.

I think you should treat your friend's comments regardig Gates' remarks with a boulder of salt unless it can be verified. And until then, installing a pirated copy of Windows is in breach of the second precept. Why? Because at its most fundamental, you are taking that which was not freely given. Microsoft, the rightful owner of the intellectual property, has not given it to you freely.
Kind regards

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saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby ciprian » Sat Jan 09, 2010 11:21 pm

I am downloading Ubuntu right now. And I am planning to be very careful with file-sharing too. Most of the time I don't really need that stuff anyway. An opportunity to practice restraint.
Thank you very much for helping me :anjali:
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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 09, 2010 11:23 pm

Greetings,

I wonder how the Buddha would have formulated this precept had he lived in the age of copyright? Would it be the same, would it be different?

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby Ben » Sat Jan 09, 2010 11:37 pm

Hi Retro
Why would it be any different?
Copyright law with regards to electronic media upholds the copyright owner's rights because pirating diminishes the ability to derive revenue from their work. The fact that a particular software product can be reproduced an infinite amount of times by the copyright owner is not the issue, what is at issue is that the market for any software or electronic product is not infinite and the parallel distribution via piracy deprives the copyright owner of rightful revenue based on his/her work.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 09, 2010 11:48 pm

Greetings Ben,

Ben wrote:Why would it be any different?


I don't say that it necessarily is, but one significant difference is that in the Buddha's day it would have been impossible to "take that which is not given" without depriving the original owner of that very item.

Copyright and intellectual property on the other hand is far more complicated than that...

I don't want to rehash old discussions, but I do know (from speaking to some of them) that some musicians don't mind their music being copied for others (though they often can't come out and say it in case the record company's legal team gets wind of it) because it gives them exposure and increases the likelihood of selling concert tickets, t-shirts and other paraphernalia, and it introduces their music to people who would not otherwise heard of them and therefore also increases the chances of such people buying their music legally in the future.

All I'm saying is that it's not as cut and dry as it would have been in the Buddha's time, and he may have reworded the precept in the modern age in some way to provide additional clarity. Or he may not have.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby appicchato » Sun Jan 10, 2010 12:04 am

Since we are told that our thoughts don't really belong to us, and (for the most part) not entirely controllable either, this term 'intellectual property' has, for some, an odious air about it... :popcorn:
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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 10, 2010 12:18 am

Hi Retro
I understand that some musicians 'won't mind' but can't say anything less the record company get wind of it...
In that situation I think the issue gets muddied as the record companies typically invest heavily to produce and distribute the music and they are rightfully seeking a return on investment. The rights and profits are shared between the musicians and the company. If the musicians were producing and distributing their own music and they didn't mind people pirating their work, then that's a different story.

one significant difference is that in the Buddha's day it would have been impossible to "take that which is not given" without depriving the original owner of that very item.

Yes, I alluded to that indirectly earlier. So what is really being taken if one pirates an intangible that can be reproduced an infinite number of times? I reckon its the opportunity to derive revenue from one's work and investment. I mentioned copyright law because I think that principle was recognized within the legislation. Anyway, I don't want to rehash old debates either. But I doubt whether the wording of the precept needs to be clarified with respect to electronic media pirating. To me its clear.
metta

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby pt1 » Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:11 am

retrofuturist wrote:I don't want to rehash old discussions, but I do know (from speaking to some of them) that some musicians don't mind their music being copied for others (though they often can't come out and say it in case the record company's legal team gets wind of it) because it gives them exposure and increases the likelihood of selling concert tickets, t-shirts and other paraphernalia, and it introduces their music to people who would not otherwise heard of them and therefore also increases the chances of such people buying their music legally in the future.


Hi retro,

I would think that if some artist/creator doesn't mind his/her work being downloaded/copied/reproduced, s/he can nowadays publish his/her work under Creative Commons, GNU and other types of licenses which explicitly give permission to others to download/copy/reproduce these works. If however the artist/creator (or his label, etc) publishes his/her work under copyright license which explicitly states that the permission to download/copy/reproduce is not given to others, then I don't see where is the ambiguity here.

And in the gray-area case where an artist doesn't mind his/her work being downloaded, but it's the label who publishes the work, then I would think that the artist has waived some of his/her rights when signing the contract with the label to publish the work, and thus, it is now the label's prerogative to give the permission, or not, for downloading. I.e. it is no longer the artist's decision or say whether the permission is given or not, and claiming the opposite is misleading the public (maybe even false speech), and might even constitute breach of the contract I would think. I mean, why conclude a contract if you're not going to honor it. That in itself would be lying I guess.

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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:30 am

Greetings pt1,

pt1 wrote:I don't see where is the ambiguity here.


I don't think there's any ambiguity over the interpretation of the precept as it was laid down by the Buddha. As I said, "I wonder how the Buddha would have formulated this precept had he lived in the age of copyright? Would it be the same, would it be different?"

We know that he added Vinaya rules as the need arose, rather than doing them all instantaneously, so if the Buddha had come up against copyright law, notions of intellectual property and such, would he have worded this precept in the same way?

I don't expect that there's a clear answer for this, and neither do I think one is necessary. It was just a bit of curiosity and not something I'm particularly attached to one way or the other.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:54 am

maybe this thread would be of use
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2874&hilit=copyright
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: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby pt1 » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:15 am

Hi retro,
retrofuturist wrote:I don't think there's any ambiguity over the interpretation of the precept as it was laid down by the Buddha. As I said, "I wonder how the Buddha would have formulated this precept had he lived in the age of copyright? Would it be the same, would it be different?"

We know that he added Vinaya rules as the need arose, rather than doing them all instantaneously, so if the Buddha had come up against copyright law, notions of intellectual property and such, would he have worded this precept in the same way?

I guess it would depend on what aspect of the precepts we focus on - on the conceptualised side as in theistic religions, which operate mostly with conceptualised "things" (like property, soul, god, etc), or on the realities which can be experienced (intention, greed, hate, etc) and have to do with insight.

I mean, both physical property (like land) and intellectual property (like music) are concepts, not realities, which are treated in a certain way by a certain set of social norms. I.e. in a capitalist society, I can own both types of property. In a communist society, they would have a different interpretation of these concepts of property and would thus take (steal?) "my" land and intellectual rights away, which would now belong to the state. In a repressive dictatorship even "I" as a recognised entity/concept that has certain rights (like owning property) will be redefined and probably not be recognised anymore either. So, in that sense it would be very hard to apply the precepts, because their definition would change with changing social norms (which is what I think you are suggesting).

On the other hand, if I want to take a piece of physical property (like land) from someone, my prime mover would be intention rooted in greed. Likewise, if I want to download a song (take a piece of intellectual property), that would also involve intention rooted greed. And if I want to take something from the state, that would also involve intention rooted in greed. So, although the concept of property changes, the realities behind the action (intention, greed, etc) remain the same. Since we as buddhists are primarily interested in insight (which relates to not being ignorant of realities like greed, hate, etc when they arise), I guess the presence or absence of greed, hate and delusion would be the determining factor in understanding how a precept applies in a particular situation. E.g. if I want to get something for myself and it's greed that's motivating me to do it, well, that can't be good regardless of whether current social norms dictate that it does (not) constitute a theft.

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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby Pannapetar » Sat May 22, 2010 4:23 am

Please allow me to revive this topic once more, since the issue of intellectual property is quite complicated and I feel that some important perspectives have not been discussed yet. Since my profession is software engineering, this issue affects me personally.

* Software piracy generally fulfills the criterion of "taking what is not given freely." Yet, some license restrictions in software products are also designed to "take what is not given freely", especially if these restrictions are coercive or unfairly leverage an existing market monopoly. Mp3 compression technology is a prime example. So, I wouldn't consider an open-source implementation of mp3 encode/decoder (such as "Lame") to break the second precept, for example. Everyone who is concerned about software piracy and licensing issues should evaluate Linux and open-source software. I am myself a contributor (...in a humble way).

* Copying media is even more complicated, as it depends on use. Downloading movies and music might violate the second precept, or it might not. For example, if you watch a movie on the Internet, how is that different from watching it on TV? If you listen to Internet radio, how is that different from listening to radio? In case the website where you retrieve media from is breaching copyright laws, can you always discern it? Is it reasonable to expect users to discern it? Furthermore, if you download a digital copy of a song/movie for personal use, how is that different from recording it for personal use with a tape recorder? If a friend gives you a memory stick with MP3 songs, how is that different from exchanging records with friends the old-fashioned way?

* Is downloading (=taking) media necessarily rooted in greed? - I doubt this can be stated with general validity. - For example, you could download something out of mere curiosity to evaluate it, or you could download it for someone else, for example cartoons for your kids, or you could download it for educational purposes and for a million other reasons. Besides, if downloading nonphysical media is "greedy" then what about buying physical media? Doesn't the willingness to spend cash for such an item express an even greater desire (=greed) to possess it? I doubt that the argument can be called conclusive...

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby Anicca » Sat May 22, 2010 6:17 am

Pannapetar wrote:*Everyone who is concerned about software piracy and licensing issues should evaluate Linux and open-source software. I am myself a contributor (...in a humble way).
How about everyone concerned about piracy just legally purchase the product of their choice? It is not that hard.

* Copying media is even more complicated, as it depends on use. Downloading movies and music might violate the second precept, or it might not. For example, if you watch a movie on the Internet, how is that different from watching it on TV?
The television paid for the rights to show it.

If you listen to Internet radio, how is that different from listening to radio?
Ditto

In case the website where you retrieve media from is breaching copyright laws, can you always discern it? Is it reasonable to expect users to discern it?
Ignorance of the law is no excuse - the Buddha went so far to state that the ignorant breaker of precepts is worse than than the intentional breaker... If you don't want pirated, bootlegged, stolen or illegal stuff - know your source.

Furthermore, if you download a digital copy of a song/movie for personal use, how is that different from recording it for personal use with a tape recorder?
Making a copy of your legally purchased product for your personal use is not the same as pirating a copy. If you purchase a legal download - it is a legal download. An illegal download is illegal. Stealing is stealing. Using a tape recorder to record a copy of a product you did not legally buy is stealing. Nowhere does the copyright say "except if you use a tape recorder, then stealing is legal"? Lots of DAT recorders had copy protection built in - for the first time the ability to copy was soooo good they were really scared.

If a friend gives you a memory stick with MP3 songs, how is that different from exchanging records with friends the old-fashioned way?
Vinyl records were single copies legally purchased. If the memory stick has only legally purchased songs and not copies of legally purchased songs - the only difference is the media.

* Is downloading (=taking) media necessarily rooted in greed? - I doubt this can be stated with general validity. - For example, you could download something out of mere curiosity to evaluate it, or you could download it for someone else, for example cartoons for your kids, or you could download it for educational purposes and for a million other reasons. Besides, if downloading nonphysical media is "greedy" then what about buying physical media? Doesn't the willingness to spend cash for such an item express an even greater desire (=greed) to possess it?
Sheesh - you are arguing that legally purchasing something is worse than stealing? - is the Buddha rolling over in his grave or what? (rhetorical question)

I doubt that the argument can be called conclusive...
I doubt that the logic used can be either...

Cheers, Thomas


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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby Wind » Sat May 22, 2010 6:42 am

There should be a limit to copyright laws. For example, in the movie Food Inc. There is a company that genetically alter soybeans that can withstand certain chemicals. They patented this crop. And any farmers who wants to grow the crop would have to pay them. Now, if they succeed to eliminate all naturally growing soy crops from the world, their crop being the only viable option. Anyone who grows soy even for personal use would be violating copyright laws. I think it's wrong to claim "intellectual" property when clearly some things in life belongs to no one.
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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby Pannapetar » Sat May 22, 2010 7:41 am

How about everyone concerned about piracy just legally purchase the product of their choice? It is not that hard. - In case of home computers and standard off-the-shelf software that would be wasteful. Save your money (or better donate it) and use Linux. With few exceptions, open-source standard software (the type of software used on an average home computer) is equivalent or superior. Plus you completely avoid the issue of stealing and support products based on generosity.

The television paid for the rights to show it. - What about online providers? Reputable online providers have to do the same.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse - the Buddha went so far to state that the ignorant breaker of precepts is worse than than the intentional breaker... - Well, things were a lot easier back in the Buddha's days, weren't they? How do you determine, for example, if a given video on Youtube is there legitimately or illegitimately? The Buddha also taught that kamma depends on intention.

Making a copy of your legally purchased product for your personal use is not the same as pirating a copy. - What about taping music and shows from the radio or TV for personal use? That's what we did back in the 80s. How is that different from, say, recording streamed media, or copying media?

Sheesh - you are arguing that legally purchasing something is worse than stealing? - No, that is not at all what I argue. I refuted PT1's last paragraph, who said that because the desire to take possession of something is rooted in greed, it must be wrong. I don't think this argument has a sound premise, or that it can be applied to what is being discussed here.

Here is another example, just food for thought: you buy a book and after reading it yourself, you lend (or give it away) to a friend. Does that violate copyrights? Is that stealing from the author/publisher? Is this taking what's not given?

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby Wind » Sat May 22, 2010 8:12 am

Pannapetar wrote:
Here is another example, just food for thought: you buy a book and after reading it yourself, you lend (or give it away) to a friend. Does that violate copyrights? Is that stealing from the author/publisher? Is this taking what's not given?

Cheers, Thomas


Some companies esp the software industry is trying to make this so. If they get their way and the government passes more laws that limits sharing. It would shape people's minds in thinking they did something wrong even though back in the past it would not even cross their minds. I think we have to be aware how our minds are being shape by man-made problems that really does not exist. This whole idea of intellectual properties is not black and white. I bet the Buddha could give a clear analogy that sheds some light into the issue. And ultimately, we don't own anything, there is no I, me, myself, or mine. And when we start claiming things to be ours, it will create dukkha.
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Re: percept nb. 2 and copyright

Postby Kim OHara » Wed May 26, 2010 10:59 am

Pannapetar wrote:Here is another example, just food for thought: you buy a book and after reading it yourself, you lend (or give it away) to a friend. Does that violate copyrights? Is that stealing from the author/publisher? Is this taking what's not given?

No, no and no, because when you buy the book (as a physical object - I'm not going to confuse the issue by considering e-books, etc) you buy the right to do whatever you like with it, except for copying it.
There is a clear parallel with buying a brick or a necklace or a cabbage: all the rights of ownership pass to the purchaser. The only difference is that it is feasible to copy the important part of a book - its meaning - without either destroying the original or paying for that important part, and that is why the publisher withholds the right to make copies.
Piracy of publications is not exclusively a modern invention, by any means. It has been around for 300 years to my certain knowledge, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that the world's first pirated edition appeared shortly after Gutenberg's first publication.

Myself, I keep going back to first principles, and (usually) avoid taking what is not freely given. I try to treat the creators as I would like to be treated in the same position.
I have to put the (usually) there because (1) some creators are, frankly, unreasonable and/or unethical, and/or (2) the benefit to the community of breaking the rule is greater than the (karmic) benefit of keeping it.

:namaste:
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