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Thread: Pirated Books within Ethical Context of Refraining from Stealing

  1. #1

    Pirated Books within Ethical Context of Refraining from Stealing

    Hello everyone,

    I had a question related to pirated books (especially uploaded on Terebess) and how it relates to the precept of refraining from stealing.

    A precept we take as Buddhist practitioners is to refrain from stealing -- taking what is not given. But I was thinking, doesn't this go against viewing illegally uploaded books onto the web, particularly books uploaded on Terebess. Would it not go against the precept of stealing to read material which we did not buy? These authors work very hard, and dedicated a lot of their time to publishing these books, and we take away from their income (livelihood for them to afford their necessities) when we illegally downloaded/read these copies. I can only imagine if we were authors and we worked really hard in publishing material, and we didn't receive the necessary income to live because others found illegal copies of our work online. Or, any of us working normal 9-5 jobs, we didn't get paid for our hard work.

    As it relates to deceased authors, it's my understanding that authors can appoint a family member (or friend) to receive the income after they have passed away, so the stance to say that the deceased authors will not reap the fruits of their work would be also incorrect (though, correct me if I'm wrong).

    Thanks so much!

    Elijah

  2. #2
    I think that is a very interesting question. And for myself I used to read also many books in this way.
    While man people are going to justify that, saying that the Dharma should be shared for free, or that downloading ebooks without paying isn't stealing, I think it is indeed violating the precept of no to take what's not given. I stopped it last year and instead I am going to buy the books that I liked.
    But I think that's a difficult topic and I'm looking forward to the coming replies here.

    Sorry for more than 3 sentences

    Gassho

    Horin

    Stlah

    Enviado desde mi PLK-L01 mediante Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Member Seikan's Avatar
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    Great question, and I'm sure this will come up soon in our ongoing study of the precepts.

    For me, I firmly believe that downloading or otherwise receiving copyrighted materials that were not properly paid for (by oneself or even as a gift from another) is stealing. This goes for books, music, movies, etc., because if we participate in such activity, we are stealing from all those that earn their livelihood off of the creation of such materials (authors, musicians, distributors, etc.).

    On the other hand, if materials are explicitly made available for free distribution (as many Dharma books certainly are), then that is no problem at all.

    Gassho,
    Rob

    -stlah-

    (Sorry for the extra sentence above...).


    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    聖簡 Seikan (Sacred Simplicity)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by RobD View Post
    Great question, and I'm sure this will come up soon in our ongoing study of the precepts.

    For me, I firmly believe that downloading or otherwise receiving copyrighted materials that were not properly paid for (by oneself or even as a gift from another) is stealing. This goes for books, music, movies, etc., because if we participate in such activity, we are stealing from all those that earn their livelihood off of the creation of such materials (authors, musicians, distributors, etc.).

    On the other hand, if materials are explicitly made available for free distribution (as many Dharma books certainly are), then that is no problem at all.

    Gassho,
    Rob

    -stlah-

    (Sorry for the extra sentence above...).


    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    Yes, this. Well said.
    Gassho,
    Krista
    st

  5. #5
    I feel this warrants a longer response... So apologies in advanced.

    First off I want to start off by saying, support the author, artist whenever possible.

    That being said I want to ask a question, what does it mean to own something? If I go to the store and buy a book, do I own that book? Is it mine to do whatever I want with? If I want to give it away can I? If I want to resell it, can I still do that? Now what if I take the time to perfectly recreate that book, page by page I take the time to create a perfect copy of it, is that copy also mine to do whatever I want with? I'm assuming most people will say yes to the first one, and no to the second. Which would mean we're paying for the content inside the book (plus whatever the cost was for them to print the book).

    This is something that never really needed to be worried about as much because recreating a book for the average person was extremely difficult. In this day and age, technology easily lets us mass produce things. If I bought a digital book that came in a PDF format, most people would agree that it's not right for me to redistribute that PDF, because that would be taking away the authors means to support themselves.

    But what if a book is out of print and the only way to get a copy is to buy one used from someone (which most will agree is fine as long as it's not a forged copy), you're not supporting the author, you're supporting the person was the previous owner of that copy, which is fine. They're keeping it in circulation in a sense by making sure it is not thrown out. But in this digital age I ask, if a book is out of print, and someone has a pdf that can be distributed, who are you harming by redistributing. There is no one distributing that digital copy as it is, and it's lost knowledge beyond the few who can afford to hunt it down and purchase a used copy. In that scenario, who am I taking from by downloading a PDF of the book? The people who own used copies who might want to sell them? (That seems like a stretch in reasoning)

    In this scenario, who are we stealing from? Are we taking away from whatever publisher owns the rights to that book? Not really because they chose to take it off the market, in the past you could make the argument that it was taken out of print because it was harming the company to keep it in print, but in this digital age it costs nearly nothing to put a digital copy out there.

    So TLDR, support content creators/maintainers when possible, but if it's not possible to support the creators/maintainers, don't feel too bad about pirating a digital copy...

    Also to clarify about what I mean by maintainer, clearly sales of the Shobogenzo aren't going to Dogen or Dogens descendents, but there are people who put in the time and effort to keep it translated and available to the public, and those people deserve to be supported.

    Again, apologies for going over...


    Evan,
    Sat today, lah
    Just going through life one day at a time!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Elijah View Post
    Hello everyone,

    I had a question related to pirated books (especially uploaded on Terebess) and how it relates to the precept of refraining from stealing.

    A precept we take as Buddhist practitioners is to refrain from stealing -- taking what is not given. But I was thinking, doesn't this go against viewing illegally uploaded books onto the web, particularly books uploaded on Terebess.
    Hi Elijah,

    Here is my understanding about the books at Terebess, having spoken to some people about it. The books are usually older or academic works uploaded with the author's awareness and tacit consent, and they will take them down if the author requests. In many cases, because they are Buddhist or academic books and older (not very recent), the authors are more concerned about the ideas and teachings within them being known than financial profit.

    Furthermore, there is fair use for academic purposes in which, if only a short passage or quotes are being used, it is fine especially if for educational purposes.

    Finally, if the book is being used while someone waits for a purchase, or if one can or does also request the book from a public library and is waiting, then I believe that the temporary use of the book is fine. I own a purchased copy of almost all the books on Terebess, and they also have quite a few that are now out of print and can only be acquired as a used and expensive out-of-print edition too.

    (Sorry for running book length long)

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-19-2020 at 07:21 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Member Seikan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Elijah,

    Here is my understanding about the books at Terebess, having spoken to some people about it. The books are usually older or academic works uploaded with the author's awareness and tacit consent, and they will take them down if the author requests. In many cases, because they are Buddhist or academic books and older (not very recent), the authors are more concerned about the ideas and teachings within them being known than financial profit.

    Furthermore, there is fair use for academic purposes in which, if only a short passage or quotes are being used, it is fine especially if for educational purposes.

    Finally, if the book is being used while someone waits for a purchase, or if one can or does also request the book from a public library and is waiting, then I believe that the temporary use of the book is fine. I own a purchased copy of almost all the books on Terebess, and they also have quite a few that are now out of print and can only be acquired as a used and expensive out-of-print edition too.

    (Sorry for running book length long)

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Fully agree with Jundo's more detailed and more relevant response.

    I'd like to add that if money is tight, public libraries (where available) are another wonderful option as they can often track down hard-to-find out-of-print materials. And supporting public libraries is a great way to support free access to expertly vetted/curated information in this age of easily distributed information of a questionable nature (i.e., social media posts).

    Gassho,
    Rob

    -stlah-


    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    聖簡 Seikan (Sacred Simplicity)

  8. #8
    Hello Elijah and everyone else.

    When studying the precepts prior to jukai I spent a while studying about copyrights. I started out being a very scrupulous follower of copyright law and ended up being a law-breaking pirate! I now believe these laws to be unethical and mostly harmful.

    Do not be stingy with the dharma or materials. Support nuns, authors, charities, monks, publishers, teachers, centres as much as you can. I believe in supporting other people and I believe in sharing knowledge. The sutras don't come with copyright signs - they come with exhortations to copy them! The Dharma should be given freely.

    Making a copy without permission is just that - doing something without legal permission. Typically one should get permission and follow the law, but it is not strictly necessary - perhaps due inability to pay or lack of other means to access material copyrights need to be broken. Reading a borrowed or used book causes as much 'harm' to the publisher and author as would a digital copy. If you have the means to, please, buy a copy, buy a dozen! If you don't, please, make a copy and benefit from the teachings!

    I would not disparage a fellow practitioner for seeking out the dharma.

    Gassho,

    Nanrin

    Sattoday
    南 - Southern
    林 - Forest

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Nanrin View Post
    Hello Elijah and everyone else.

    When studying the precepts prior to jukai I spent a while studying about copyrights. I started out being a very scrupulous follower of copyright law and ended up being a law-breaking pirate! I now believe these laws to be unethical and mostly harmful.

    Do not be stingy with the dharma or materials. Support nuns, authors, charities, monks, publishers, teachers, centres as much as you can. I believe in supporting other people and I believe in sharing knowledge. The sutras don't come with copyright signs - they come with exhortations to copy them! The Dharma should be given freely.

    Making a copy without permission is just that - doing something without legal permission. Typically one should get permission and follow the law, but it is not strictly necessary - perhaps due inability to pay or lack of other means to access material copyrights need to be broken. Reading a borrowed or used book causes as much 'harm' to the publisher and author as would a digital copy. If you have the means to, please, buy a copy, buy a dozen! If you don't, please, make a copy and benefit from the teachings!

    I would not disparage a fellow practitioner for seeking out the dharma.

    Gassho,

    Nanrin

    Sattoday
    Well, bottom line is that it is best to buy it or get a used copy or borrow from a library when possible, and other uses should be limited in scope and for educational purposes only. That's my personal rule of thumb. I will also use a scholar's book if I know that I can get it from the library and the purpose is primarily for education, not profit.

    I buy novels and new books just released and still in publication.

    For tv etc., living in Japan, I try to watch online only what is offered by one of the paid services. There have been a few exceptions for news and public affairs shows that I think are important and I cannot get here in Japan. In that case, I take on the Karma of being an informed citizen overseas. However, I try to limit that.

    Gassho, J

    STLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-20-2020 at 01:40 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    This is a very complicated subject for me.

    I am going to use Star Wars as an example. There are no legitimized digital, DVD, or Blu Ray copies of the original, unaltered theatrical versions of the original Star Wars movies that you can choose to pay for if you want them. There are only the jumbled, crowded, enhanced, and downright hard to watch remastered editions. However, there are pirated copies of the Laserdisc version that many Star Wars fans feel is "criminal" to let disappear, so they spread it around.

    Illegal, yes, BUT also not taking money from the hands of anyone, as there is no legitimate source that is actually selling it on behalf of the creators... even the few laserdiscs for sale only benefit the seller on ebay, and not George Lucas and the team responsible for the films.

    I guess you could argue that George Lucas and Disney reserve the right to refuse to let anyone see the original films if they choose to do so, but for me that would be choosing to never watch Star Wars again, because the remastered Blu Ray editions, which I have paid for are very... well, you have to be a major Star Wars nerd to understand exactly why it is so infuriating.

    Excuse my length
    Gassho
    Sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  11. #11
    I know a number of artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians. Out of principle and respect for them I do not pirate material or knowingly leverage pirated material.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    This is a very complicated subject for me.

    I am going to use Star Wars as an example. There are no legitimized digital, DVD, or Blu Ray copies of the original, unaltered theatrical versions of the original Star Wars movies that you can choose to pay for if you want them. There are only the jumbled, crowded, enhanced, and downright hard to watch remastered editions. However, there are pirated copies of the Laserdisc version that many Star Wars fans feel is "criminal" to let disappear, so they spread it around.

    Illegal, yes, BUT also not taking money from the hands of anyone, as there is no legitimate source that is actually selling it on behalf of the creators... even the few laserdiscs for sale only benefit the seller on ebay, and not George Lucas and the team responsible for the films.

    I guess you could argue that George Lucas and Disney reserve the right to refuse to let anyone see the original films if they choose to do so, but for me that would be choosing to never watch Star Wars again, because the remastered Blu Ray editions, which I have paid for are very... well, you have to be a major Star Wars nerd to understand exactly why it is so infuriating.

    Excuse my length
    Gassho
    Sat today, lah
    This pretty much sums up my thoughts on these things, why let these works just fade away and be lost forever. It's just like how with emulators for games, people are trying to make sure all these old games are archived so they're not lost, while the companies that legally own them are quite willing to let them fade away forever because they wouldn't be able to make much of a profit on them.


    Evan,
    Sat today, lah
    Just going through life one day at a time!

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    This is a very complicated subject for me.

    I am going to use Star Wars as an example. There are no legitimized digital, DVD, or Blu Ray copies of the original, unaltered theatrical versions of the original Star Wars movies that you can choose to pay for if you want them. There are only the jumbled, crowded, enhanced, and downright hard to watch remastered editions. However, there are pirated copies of the Laserdisc version that many Star Wars fans feel is "criminal" to let disappear, so they spread it around.

    Illegal, yes, BUT also not taking money from the hands of anyone, as there is no legitimate source that is actually selling it on behalf of the creators... even the few laserdiscs for sale only benefit the seller on ebay, and not George Lucas and the team responsible for the films.

    I guess you could argue that George Lucas and Disney reserve the right to refuse to let anyone see the original films if they choose to do so, but for me that would be choosing to never watch Star Wars again, because the remastered Blu Ray editions, which I have paid for are very... well, you have to be a major Star Wars nerd to understand exactly why it is so infuriating.

    Excuse my length
    Gassho
    Sat today, lah
    Those lucas edits are horrid; he should have stopped w the vhs special editions; he ruined the ewok song and having hayden christensen as anakjns ghost at the end of jedi, cringe; and jabba in star wars; and we all know solo shot first!!!!. and dont get me started on the disney star wars nonsense where it takes 2 days to become a jedi to defeat luke skywalker in melee combat hahaha im obsessed

    gassho

    risho
    -stlah

  14. #14
    It is a complicated subject for me too. I know it is illegal, although I have downloaded material since I was a teenager, starting with a dial connection, it took ages to download a single tune. When I couldn't afford art I downloaded what I wanted or used the library. Now I have a job (I hope so at least, thank you Covid) and I can afford buying more things, so if I can find a copy of a book I need I will buy it. Although, I tend to buy second hand and I still use the library a lot. I download books to see if I like them, or if I can't find them anywhere (or are way too much expensive). I understand that little authors need money from their art, so if I can, I will buy it or support them, but major artists I don't think they need it as much. Someone mentioned Lucas and Star wars, I'm not a fan but I believe that Mr Lucas made millions with his franchise, would I feel guilty in downloading a SW episode? Well, to be frank... not in the slightest. Would I feel guilty in downloading a Stephen King book when his net worth is of $500 million? I think he has enough money.

    Sorry for going over three sentences,
    Gassho,
    Mags
    ST

  15. #15
    I have the privilege of making a living from selling my own videogame (singular now, hopefully plural soon), but I still think this is a complicated topic. I'll save my full contribution for the precepts discussion since it's ended up a bit lengthy. In short: I'd love if everyone bought the game, but I know there are edge cases where that's not possible, and I'd rather they get a chance to play and maybe contribute to word-of-mouth marketing because I don't think they'd ever buy the game.

    Gassho,
    Kenny
    Sat Today

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny View Post
    I have the privilege of making a living from selling my own videogame (singular now, hopefully plural soon), but I still think this is a complicated topic. I'll save my full contribution for the precepts discussion since it's ended up a bit lengthy. In short: I'd love if everyone bought the game, but I know there are edge cases where that's not possible, and I'd rather they get a chance to play and maybe contribute to word-of-mouth marketing because I don't think they'd ever buy the game.

    Gassho,
    Kenny
    Sat Today
    This is one of those areas where I wish demos were more common again, you play the demo to get a feel for the game, and then decide to buy it (that or in the case of steam, you buy the game, and then if it's not for you within 2 hours, return it).


    Evan,
    Sat today, lah
    Just going through life one day at a time!

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by RobD View Post
    Great question, and I'm sure this will come up soon in our ongoing study of the precepts.

    For me, I firmly believe that downloading or otherwise receiving copyrighted materials that were not properly paid for (by oneself or even as a gift from another) is stealing. This goes for books, music, movies, etc., because if we participate in such activity, we are stealing from all those that earn their livelihood off of the creation of such materials (authors, musicians, distributors, etc.).

    On the other hand, if materials are explicitly made available for free distribution (as many Dharma books certainly are), then that is no problem at all.

    Gassho,
    Rob

    -stlah-

    (Sorry for the extra sentence above...).


    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    I agree. Downloading anything pirated is taking that which isn't freely given, ie stealing, thus breaking a precept, it's that simple and I can't see how it's a difficult or complex situation as some are stating here.
    Full disclosure, I've done it myself in the past and no matter how I tried to justify it, once I'd taken vows I was racked with guilt, so stopped. And until recently I would watch the BBC iplayer via a vpn, justifying it by saying I would willingly pay if I could, as I do for Netflix, Amazon Prime and ITV UK. I've stopped that now too.
    I can tell already that the Precepts studies are going to be interesting this year!
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Sattoday lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  18. #18
    Thank you everyone for the insightful replies. You have given me a lot to think about!

    Gassho,

    Elijah

  19. #19
    Maybe I missed something and would be happy to be corrected since I do lot of reaserch and reading online: there's so much free Dharma texts, articles and books available and shared on-line through blogs, buddhist associations, various websites, etc, etc access to those websites is legal - how I'm I stealing it I'm not intentionally using an illegal software, vpn or a dodgy website to download this material?
    After reading through all of your insightful comments I have decided not to buy an used book again, not because it is bad but to support the authors by purchasing an original copy when I can afford it.
    I have "invested" in "Complete Poison Blossoms from a Thicket of Thorn: The Zen Records of Hakuin Ekaku" and "The Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: ZEN Master Dogen's Shobo Genzo" and when holding them I knew I was very lucky to be able to read it and I felt great gratitude towards Norman Waddell and Kazuaki Tanahashi for their tremendous work.
    I'm finding studying the Precepts very inspiring and thought provoking.

    Gassho
    Sat

  20. #20
    I am an author, and I write ebooks about computers, many of which are pirated. I'm a freelancer, so any income lost through piracy affects my bottom line. It's not that complicated.

    As for deceased authors, copyrights are transferred to their descendants and are, in the US and many other countries, valid for 70 years after death.

    The only real justification I see for book piracy is if a book is out of print, and the publisher has no plans to reprint it.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Elijah,

    Here is my understanding about the books at Terebess, having spoken to some people about it. The books are usually older or academic works uploaded with the author's awareness and tacit consent, and they will take them down if the author requests. In many cases, because they are Buddhist or academic books and older (not very recent), the authors are more concerned about the ideas and teachings within them being known than financial profit.
    All due respect, but if they "take them down if the author requests" that can only happen if the author is aware of this. The Internet Archive got in a lot of trouble recently, putting a lot of books on their website without permission.

    If the books are out of print, that's one thing. If they're not, they're breaking the law; it's not up to authors to check every website to find if their content is being distributed illegally.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    All due respect, but if they "take them down if the author requests" that can only happen if the author is aware of this. The Internet Archive got in a lot of trouble recently, putting a lot of books on their website without permission.

    If the books are out of print, that's one thing. If they're not, they're breaking the law; it's not up to authors to check every website to find if their content is being distributed illegally.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    Thank you. In my naivity and ignorance I thought that Internet Archive was a genuine library. I'll review my content and see which titles I can purchase over the time.
    Gassho
    Sat

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Margherita View Post
    It is a complicated subject for me too. I know it is illegal, although I have downloaded material since I was a teenager, starting with a dial connection, it took ages to download a single tune. When I couldn't afford art I downloaded what I wanted or used the library. Now I have a job (I hope so at least, thank you Covid) and I can afford buying more things, so if I can find a copy of a book I need I will buy it. Although, I tend to buy second hand and I still use the library a lot. I download books to see if I like them, or if I can't find them anywhere (or are way too much expensive). I understand that little authors need money from their art, so if I can, I will buy it or support them, but major artists I don't think they need it as much. Someone mentioned Lucas and Star wars, I'm not a fan but I believe that Mr Lucas made millions with his franchise, would I feel guilty in downloading a SW episode? Well, to be frank... not in the slightest. Would I feel guilty in downloading a Stephen King book when his net worth is of $500 million? I think he has enough money.

    Sorry for going over three sentences,
    Gassho,
    Mags
    ST
    Was Robin Hood not a thief because he only stole from the rich?
    (sorry - stirring some feathers for a debate)
    Gassho
    Sat

  24. #24
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
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    Location
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Hi folks,

    I'm going to apologize for going over three sentences now as its certainly going to happen. These questions may look simply but as its already been pointed out there are a few different angles on this type of thing. I think its helpful to ask few questions and provide some tentative answers.

    1. What is it to own something?
    2. Does the nature of the "thing" owned make a difference?
    3. What does it mean to be freely given?

    When I think of question 1, I think of one (the owners) ability to keep others from using or interacting with said object. I didn't say that one can do what they please with the object. Pets are legally considered property but if you start abusing them and people find out there's a good chance they won't be your property for long. But what you can do is deny others access to the object and you have substantially more options for interacting with the object than others. Of course this requires laws and someone to enforce them or some kind of understanding between people.

    2. The Nature of things. When what were talking about is an physical object to steal something would be put the original owner in the reverse situation from ownership. It was once my car but it was stolen and now this other person controls who does and doesn't have access to its function. This is different than if I gifted or sold the car. In those case I relinquish my ownership (free of coercion.) An interesting point is that there is no end of ownership in this model. I own something until I relinquish it or die. But how does this work for ideas, books or software? Things that can be duplicated without depriving the owner from its use. I don't think its really the same. It certainly isn't what Shakyamuni Buddha had in mind when he thought up that precept.


    3. Given or taken from no one? Did the carrots I've grown give themselves to me? Does it make sense to say that? I don't think it does but does that mean I've violated the precept? They weren't given to me. I just took them. I didn't really grow them but I did bring together the conditions that allowed them to grow. Do I have a right to anything I used my labor to help bring into being? What about the berries I just picked? I didn't do anything other than stroll over in my green rubber boots and put them in a bucket. Did I steal them?

    Anyway, this was just a bunch of words like a fart in the wind. They might draw attention for a bit but they won't have any lasting impact. I think the best way to deal with this stuff is to ask yourself why are you doing this? Does this action cause anyone harm?


    Are we taking what wasn't given for entertainment? If so, I wouldn't consider much of a counter balance to any harm it might cause. But what if your stealing to feed a hungry child? I like to think I would be brave enough to do that if I had to. But we also have to consider harm. Is stealing someones last piece of bread to feed a starving person good? I think we might be just shifting the misery around. What about authors like Kirk? If we download copies of his work are we causing him harm? Maybe! But its also possible we weren't going to buy it anyway. In which case i don't think we are.

    Long story short when we dig into these things they tend to be more complex than we realize. As for laws well they are created by us to address some kind of issue. Sometimes its to people from harassment other times its to harass people (laws that punishment people who would help slaves run away in the US. E.g. the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.) Not ever law is worthy of respect but if your going to break it I think you need to think about how it fits your practice.

    Anywho, I'm afraid I went well over 3 sentences but I wanted to illustrate how complex these types of questions can be. At least for my perspective.


    Gassho
    Hoseki
    Sattoday

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Ania View Post
    Was Robin Hood not a thief because he only stole from the rich?
    (sorry - stirring some feathers for a debate)
    Gassho
    Sat
    Certainly, but then that brings up an entirely different discussion on ethics and such, you could make the argument that Robin Hood was creating more good karma/merit than bad because he was using those stolen goods to help the less fortunate. Meanwhile the rich in that scenario are hoarding wealth for only their own benefit while the poor starve.

    Now mind you I don't think the story of robin hood is comparable to downloading a book from a rich author. I think in the case of a rich author you're not really harming the author, that being said if you're able to afford the book you should still buy it. If you can't afford it, well in the case of entertainment I doubt that one book is the only possible source of entertainment you could find. I'd also say another interesting angle to consider, is what are you planning to use the book for? Are you simply entertaining yourself, or do you hope to use the knowledge in the book to benefit others? (Obviously if you can afford to pay for the book, pay for it)

    Apologies for going over.


    Evan,
    Sat today, lah
    Just going through life one day at a time!

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    I am an author, and I write ebooks about computers, many of which are pirated. I'm a freelancer, so any income lost through piracy affects my bottom line. It's not that complicated.
    Honestly, it is indeed not really complicated... I just think I tell myself to not worry much about piracy and to not have a hardline stance towards it because then I'd get really bothered by all the people pirating my game which I can't really do anything about

    Thankfully, despite all the piracy I'm not paying attention to, I still make a living... a true privilege.

    The discussion gets more complicated if you want to dig into what "ownership" is, if you can "steal" a digital good which can be copied infinitely, and so on, but the scope of "can I download books from this one site which seems a bit sketchy?" is much smaller.

    Gassho,
    Kenny
    Sat Today

  27. #27
    Member Seikan's Avatar
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    We can split hairs and argue the finer legal details (which can vary by county) ad nauseum, and we'll likely never all agree.

    At the end of the day, for myself, I bring this back to "intent"—that is, am I acting out of an intent to avoid paying for what otherwise could be purchased fairly, or am I simply trying to gain access to material that is otherwise unavailable in any other legally-accessible format (that I am personally aware of)?

    If we're truly acting from a benevolent position/intent, then we are likely doing all we can to avoid "stealing".

    Gassho,
    Rob

    -stlah-


    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
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  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by gaurdianaq View Post
    Certainly, but then that brings up an entirely different discussion on ethics and such, you could make the argument that Robin Hood was creating more good karma/merit than bad because he was using those stolen goods to help the less fortunate. Meanwhile the rich in that scenario are hoarding wealth for only their own benefit while the poor starve.

    Now mind you I don't think the story of robin hood is comparable to downloading a book from a rich author. I think in the case of a rich author you're not really harming the author, that being said if you're able to afford the book you should still buy it. If you can't afford it, well in the case of entertainment I doubt that one book is the only possible source of entertainment you could find. I'd also say another interesting angle to consider, is what are you planning to use the book for? Are you simply entertaining yourself, or do you hope to use the knowledge in the book to benefit others? (Obviously if you can afford to pay for the book, pay for it)

    Apologies for going over.


    Evan,
    Sat today, lah
    I agree with you on two things : Robin Hood was a silly example and that a rich author isn't necessarily harmed if someone downloads a pirated copy of his book. However it is important what RobD is saying about intention. If my intention is to avoid paying and instead downloading a book because it will greatly benefit my knowledge or whatever and it won't harm the already rich author, then the same intention can be applied to taking a jumper from Top Shop because it will benefit me and won't harm stinky rich Philip Green. Where do we draw a line? I realised that it is important to ask myself honestly : "Do I act out of greed (for knowledge, self improvement, spiritual progression or whatever else) or do I act out of genuine urge to benefit others?
    Appologies for going over three sentences.
    Gassho
    Sat

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Ania View Post
    Was Robin Hood not a thief because he only stole from the rich?
    (sorry - stirring some feathers for a debate)
    Gassho
    Sat
    Hi Ania, no need to be sorry! I have been thinking about this subject a lot since I read this thread, actually. I believe I have anger problems related to this, related to authority figures and what is permitted and what is not: if someone tells me I can't do something, boy if I'm itching to do it!
    As for Mr Hood, maybe that is a different topic. If I have to be honest, I would jail him. Dura lex sed lex Latin said (the law is harsh, but it is the law), but in my heart I could only praise him. And maybe, just maybe, we need more Mr/Ms Hood in this world were, to quote Oxfam:

    The world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet’s population

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Ania View Post
    I agree with you on two things : Robin Hood was a silly example and that a rich author isn't necessarily harmed if someone downloads a pirated copy of his book. However it is important what RobD is saying about intention. If my intention is to avoid paying and instead downloading a book because it will greatly benefit my knowledge or whatever and it won't harm the already rich author, then the same intention can be applied to taking a jumper from Top Shop because it will benefit me and won't harm stinky rich Philip Green. Where do we draw a line? I realised that it is important to ask myself honestly : "Do I act out of greed (for knowledge, self improvement, spiritual progression or whatever else) or do I act out of genuine urge to benefit others?
    Appologies for going over three sentences.
    Gassho
    Sat
    I mean, I think in one scenario you're taking away from the store, rather than downloading something that effectively has infinite copies. And my example about intention was if it was for the benefit of others, I don't think stealing a top will benefit others. Like if someone stole food because their family was starving. For a book, maybe someone who lives in an area that's very poor and can't afford to pay for a book, pirates a book on carpentry or farming in the hopes of learning those skills and applying them to help the people in their community. In those scenarios I feel the positive outcomes outweigh the negative action (of course I believe we should find a way to lift them out of poverty so they don't have to steal in the first place

    But ultimately I think my stance boils down to buy it, my one major exception is when the book is out of print (but someone made a digital transcription of it), or it's not possibly for me to legally acquire the book in my country (and a VPN or something isn't an option to order it).

    Apologies for going over


    Evan,
    Sat today, lah
    Just going through life one day at a time!

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Ania View Post
    Thank you. In my naivity and ignorance I thought that Internet Archive was a genuine library. I'll review my content and see which titles I can purchase over the time.
    Gassho
    Sat
    Much of what they have is legitimate, stuff in the public domain (such as the huge collection of live Grateful Dead concerts). But they recently did a thing where they claimed the right to distribute lots of books that weren't in the public domain, but backed down under pressure.

    They are a wonderful resource, but went a bit too far.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by gaurdianaq View Post

    Now mind you I don't think the story of robin hood is comparable to downloading a book from a rich author. I think in the case of a rich author you're not really harming the author, that being said if you're able to afford the book you should still buy it. If you can't afford it, well in the case of entertainment I doubt that one book is the only possible source of entertainment you could find. I'd also say another interesting angle to consider, is what are you planning to use the book for? Are you simply entertaining yourself, or do you hope to use the knowledge in the book to benefit others? (Obviously if you can afford to pay for the book, pay for it)
    Here's the deal. Most sites that distribute pirated content are benefiting from that content by serving ads, and often serving malware. It doesn't matter if they're my books or those of a "rich author," the sites all have the same goal: have as many titles as possible to make money. If you think that downloading a book by a rich author is okay, you're still legitimizing a site that is providing content that isn't theirs to distribute, and is providing content from authors who aren't rich.

    You can come up with lots of justification for piracy, but they all end up the same.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny View Post

    The discussion gets more complicated if you want to dig into what "ownership" is, if you can "steal" a digital good which can be copied infinitely, and so on, but the scope of "can I download books from this one site which seems a bit sketchy?" is much smaller.
    Of course it's not "stealing" a digital good. Would you consider it "theft" if you snuck into a movie theater to watch a movie? You can bend over backwards to justify just about anything.

    I've downloaded stuff over the years, and I still do, occasionally, because it's not easily available. But I'm well aware of what I'm doing, and I'm not trying to justify it with some libertarian argument that "information wants to be free." I live from my work, much of which involves publishing digital content, and I know a lot of people who also do this. If you're not bothered by your game being pirated, then good for you.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  34. #34
    Member Seikan's Avatar
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    Agree with all of Kirk's points above. If all information is ultimately made available for free (even just digital content), then so many of us (myself included) will be out of a job.

    Also, on the point about it being easier to justify downloading a pirated book by a multi-millionaire author like Stephen King, I still couldn't do it as I can't help but think about my local independent bookseller that relies on every print book sale to stay open (especially this year) as well as the other 9-to-5 employees of publishing houses, distributors, delivery services, etc. that all earn their livelihood off of the creation, printing and distribution of books.

    Gassho,
    Rob

    -stlah-

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by RobD View Post
    Agree with all of Kirk's points above. If all information is ultimately made available for free (even just digital content), then so many of us (myself included) will be out of a job

    -stlah-
    I'd say there is an argument to be made for a radical change in how our society operates, but I suppose that's probably a bit beyond the scope of this thread. (And I'll just clarify that I'm not for any ideology that just benefits myself/a small subsection of society)
    Just going through life one day at a time!

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    All due respect, but if they "take them down if the author requests" that can only happen if the author is aware of this. The Internet Archive got in a lot of trouble recently, putting a lot of books on their website without permission.

    If the books are out of print, that's one thing. If they're not, they're breaking the law; it's not up to authors to check every website to find if their content is being distributed illegally.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    My understanding is that the authors of Zen books there are aware of the situation, and they are primarily academic works, older, with either plentiful used copies or hard to find.

    Gassho, J

    STlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  37. #37
    And now we have started the discussion of the Precept against stealing early, just as we did with the Do not Kill Precept I guess if 2020 brought anything good, it's that we are having a great year for our studies!

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  38. #38
    I'm late to the party but wanted to add one more perspective, "intent", for others who also find this thread after the fact. I lost my job because of covid. Without the public library and alternatively z-library, I'd never have been able to obtain or read a single book about Buddhism.

    Sat today.

  39. #39
    FWIW, as a former librarian who spent 20 years of her free time republishing materials online for free that were a) pubic domain and b) nevertheless stuck behind a de facto paywall (Early English Books on microfilm) (here is a depository) https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/handle/1794/507, I have a pirate's sensibilities, and am aware how much publishers look out for their own interests over those of authors, but I did try not to break laws.

    I make a little on my own books as printed, but have chosen to make free pdfs of all of them available, https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/risabee and encourage others to do the same, as there is much hunger for both food and books in the world; people are often forced to choose the one over the other but the push to fix it should maybe come from authors rather than pirates.

    Terebess should be checking with authors and/or publishers to get clearance in writing; if the books are indeed free, they can be held there but also elsewhere for higher visibility as they are much needed. _()_

    wordy, sorries.

    gassho
    shonin sat/lah today
    Last edited by Shōnin Risa Bear; 12-17-2020 at 12:23 AM.
    Visiting unsui, take with salt. 喫茶去

  40. #40
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    All art and information should be free. Yes, that brings up questions around artists and information providers 'making a living' but it really should bring up questions around ownership, property, community, sharing, and their relationship to the supporting of an economic system that is morally and ethically bankrupt, that needs poverty in order to function and breeds divisiveness.
    I'll probably get banned for saying this but I don't really care anymore tbh.
    Be kind to yourselves and look out for each other.
    For anarchy and peace
    Onka
    Sat today/wrote more than 3 sentences.
    穏 On (Calm)
    火 Ka (Fires)
    aka Anna Kissed.
    Pronouns She/Her They/Them.
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Onka View Post
    All art and information should be free.
    A bit late to this one, but I’ve always felt this to be a very selfish attitude. Free because you deserve the fruits of the work of others without contributing to them so they can continue to create?

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    Sat
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  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    A bit late to this one, but I’ve always felt this to be a very selfish attitude. Free because you deserve the fruits of the work of others without contributing to them so they can continue to create?

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    Sat
    I think a lot of people mistakenly consider art as a right.. A novel someone spent 5 years to write is not something anyone has the right to have just because they want it. It is for the author to make available and profit from.

    SatToday lah
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  43. #43
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    A bit late to this one, but I’ve always felt this to be a very selfish attitude. Free because you deserve the fruits of the work of others without contributing to them so they can continue to create?

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    Sat
    It is the antithesis of selfishness Kirk. It is only viewed as selfish if one is hamstrung by the idea that capitalism is the only system within which Art can exist. A friend of mine is a very successful installation and visual artist. Her personal politics lends itself to her offering her Art for free and accessible to all. She lives off of donations from those able to support her and commissions from governments at local and state level to create public pieces or organise free exhibitions.
    I don't feel that I deserve to benefit from the fruits of anyone's labour either but I think that everyone deserves access to Art for free just as I feel that access to.knowledge should be free. I have particular skills myself that others have benefitted from but the idea of profiting from my skills I find unsavoury and not in keeping with the kind of world I wish to live in.
    As a realistic precursor to a fairer and more equitable world for those hamstrung by valuing things in monetary terms I would suggest a look into Universal Basic Income. It may alleviate the deserving vs undeserving thinking.
    Gassho
    Onka
    Sat today
    穏 On (Calm)
    火 Ka (Fires)
    aka Anna Kissed.
    Pronouns She/Her They/Them.
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  44. #44
    I spent over an hour writing a post which was slightly over three sentences, so here's a shorter post.

    I agree with Onka's statement that art and knowledge should be free, but that statement in itself does not mean that pirating content is morally justified or that creators should not be compensated for their work. It is possible to believe that art and knowledge should be free, while still paying for what you consume or choosing only to use those resources which are already freely available.

    Gassho,
    Phill
    sat

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Onka View Post
    It is the antithesis of selfishness Kirk. It is only viewed as selfish if one is hamstrung by the idea that capitalism is the only system within which Art can exist. A friend of mine is a very successful installation and visual artist. Her personal politics lends itself to her offering her Art for free and accessible to all. She lives off of donations from those able to support her and commissions from governments at local and state level to create public pieces or organise free exhibitions.
    I don't feel that I deserve to benefit from the fruits of anyone's labour either but I think that everyone deserves access to Art for free just as I feel that access to.knowledge should be free. I have particular skills myself that others have benefitted from but the idea of profiting from my skills I find unsavoury and not in keeping with the kind of world I wish to live in.
    As a realistic precursor to a fairer and more equitable world for those hamstrung by valuing things in monetary terms I would suggest a look into Universal Basic Income. It may alleviate the deserving vs undeserving thinking.
    Gassho
    Onka
    Sat today

    Would you expect a baker to give you bread for free? Would you expect someone to give you a car for free?

    You example is a “successful” artist, which means they are earning a living and can afford to give some of them work for free. Yet you would expect all others to give their work away?

    You have obviously done the mental gymnastics to justify this, so there's no point discussing any more.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    Sat
    Last edited by Ryumon; 01-17-2021 at 09:35 AM.
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  46. #46
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=kirkmc;279103]Would you expect a baker to give you bread for free? Would you expect someone to give you a car for free?

    You example is a “successful” artist, which means they are earning a living and can afford to give some of them work for free. Yet you would expect all others to give their work away?

    You have obviously done the mental gymnastics to justify this, so there's no point discussing any more.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    Sat

    I apologise for not outlining in simpler ways how my friends and I measure success and earning but it is more to do with integrity, freedom and community service than money, Mutual Aid. Weird but not a new idea. I prefer the company of creative, IT, and academic folk who want to make the world a better place without putting a monetary value on their best work, offering it for free, leaving their average work for their employer. Open Source is a prime example that's not limited to IT. Treeleaf and a bloke named Jundo is another example I would argue. No mental gymnastics required as I see it but hey, I'm just a muppet living a very simple beautifully ugly and complicated life, and loving every minute of it.
    Gassho
    Onka
    Sat today/apology for over 3 sentences.

    *Do check UBI though
    穏 On (Calm)
    火 Ka (Fires)
    aka Anna Kissed.
    Pronouns She/Her They/Them.
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Onka View Post

    I apologise for not outlining in simpler ways how my friends and I measure success and earning but it is more to do with integrity, freedom and community service than money, Mutual Aid. Weird but not a new idea. I prefer the company of creative, IT, and academic folk who want to make the world a better place without putting a monetary value on their best work, offering it for free, leaving their average work for their employer. Open Source is a prime example that's not limited to IT. Treeleaf and a bloke named Jundo is another example I would argue. No mental gymnastics required as I see it but hey, I'm just a muppet living a very simple beautifully ugly and complicated life, and loving every minute of it.
    Gassho
    Onka
    Sat today/apology for over 3 sentences.

    *Do check UBI though
    I'm a strong believer in UBI. However, we're not there, and neither my landlord nor my supermarket offer me free rent or food. (Of course, UBI is not "free," it's just distributed from taxes.)

    It remains that, today, the attitude that art should be free is selfish, and it reinforces the trope of the "starving artist" which is something that has harmed artists for centuries. And while I understand that you have the worldview that you have, it's not realistic, and in the context of whether pirating books is ethical or not, something I find insulting. (In part because the books I write are not "art" yet you seem to suggest that they should be free as well...) I've seen these arguments for decades, and it's just that here, in the context of a spin-off of a thread on one of the precepts, this comes across, I'm sorry to say, as selfish.

    Curiously, I've been reading the comments on an article in the Guardian about how musicians aren't making enough from music streaming services. No one there has suggested that music should be free, quite the contrary.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  48. #48
    Sorry for the long post (this is mostly what I had written originally, but now with a couple of added bits)

    Quote Originally Posted by Onka View Post
    I prefer the company of creative, IT, and academic folk who want to make the world a better place without putting a monetary value on their best work, offering it for free, leaving their average work for their employer.
    As a former university lecturer, this statement makes me really sad. I find it rather depressing if you know academics who feel those students only deserve to receive their average work. Those students are often paying significant sums of money to be taught, often ending up in crippling debt, for someone's average work? Similarly every researcher I know does the best research they can. These people give away a lot of their knowledge too, but not at the cost of their employers. I would argue that the people in your statement above are also breaking the precept. They are taking money by their employers that they have not earned. To me if someone pays me to do something, it is for me to do my job well, whether that be teaching, IT work, or stacking shelves. That work is independent of what I give away for free.

    Onka, as you avoided the baker question: I am wondering why you are limiting your argument to the labours of people who have invested in earning their income through using their mind? If I state that everyone deserves access to nutritious food and somewhere safe to live, would you not agree that farmers should give their produce away for free and construction workers should build houses for free? As someone who earns money through applying knowledge, I could readily give it away for free if there were other people providing me with my own home to live in, clothes to wear, food to eat, etc. Unfortunately that is not the world we live in. Even if it is unsavoury to profit from our skills, for me it is how I make sure I have a roof over my head. Mutual aid is a great idea, you might have friends who can provide you with food, housing, clothing, etc, in return for your skills but not all of us are that lucky. Some of us still have to use money to get these things.

    Everyone with an internet connection already has access to art and information for free - just not all art and all information. Plenty of folk give useful stuff away all the time. You can spend a lifetime reading and not get through everything in Project Gutenberg. If you want to learn a skill there are plenty of online courses through places like coursera available for free. If you want entertainment then there are lots of interesting YouTube channels or podcasts. There is no need for someone to take something not freely given, other than their own personal desire for that specific thing, taking Zen as an example, there are plenty of wonderful resources out there available for free, this being one of them. If someone pirates a book on Zen that the author has not given freely, they are making a choice to steal that particular thing from that particular author. Open source is a great example. You can get plenty of open source software, and not pay a thing towards it, but that does not give you the right to download an illegal copy of Photoshop and use that. Proprietary and Open can exist side-by-side and it is the creator who should be in control over what category their creation falls under. Some people are luckily enough to not to need to put monetary value on their work, others are not. I don't know a single tattoo artist who can afford to tattoo everyone for free in the hope that some people will donate.

    If artists or knowledge creators are getting commissions from governments, or were in recipient of Universal Basic Income then the art and knowledge isn't free. It is being paid for by someone at some level, in your example it's through donations and taxation. So if you are paying taxes, you are paying the artists. It is great in this particular case that your friend has access to resources to allow her to provide open access to her work, but your friend is still profiting off her skills and is part of the capitalist system. Personally, in the UK I'd rather trust my judgement on which artists/creators I want to support, rather than having the government act as a gatekeeper over who can have funding for creating the right types of art, but I can see arguments for having a balance fo the two.

    While I'd love all art and all knowledge to be freely available. I'm grateful that science has made a big push for open science and open data, where any science funded by public money is available to the public. We don't have anything like Universal Basic Income, so we can't treat artists as if we do; we have to live in the world that exists. I believe that everyone deserves fair compensation for their work, so until some other/better system is in place, it only seems fair to pay. And while there are so many things that are freely given that can be enjoyed instead I can't see any way that pirating art and knowledge doesn't break the precepts.

    Gassho,
    Phill
    sat

  49. #49
    To me if someone pays me to do something, it is for me to do my job well, whether that be teaching, IT work, or stacking shelves. That work is independent of what I give away for free.


    Gassho
    Sat

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