Does software pirating break the second precept?

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Mouse Soldier
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Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Mouse Soldier »

I pirate TV shows and movies often, and used to justify this as a natural shift away from the established media corporations and a changing (thanks to the internet) world. Now I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I have been wrong all this time.
Motova
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Motova »

I'd also like to know this in regards to scanning books. For example, instead of buying books I just go to the library, bring them home, and scan them.
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Qing Tian
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Qing Tian »

:jawdrop: You can rationalise it all you want but it is stealing.

So, to answer your question... YES


Now go and stand in the naughty corner and reflect upon your wickedness
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Qing Tian wrote: :jawdrop: You can rationalise it all you want but it is stealing.

So, to answer your question... YES


Now go and stand in the naughty corner and reflect upon your wickedness

I don't know about that, it gets more complicated than that.

If you can't find an album to buy (happens to me all the time with my tastes- obscure stuff), but can find it for free download....also if you've already owned a piece of music, I find it questionable you should pay for it again..especially since some services are already giving you the mp3 version when you purchase the cd.

You pay taxes to support your library, that's how they obtain the stuff, copying it means using it beyond what the library intended..but i'm not sure it's stealing.

One thing that can be said, it's unhealthy acquire stuff for the sake of acquiring it, and it's easier on your mind to stop acquiring, and take what is given...however, what if your friend gives you a "pirated" Dharma book, should you turn it down? How is that different from turning down a hard copy book? hell, should my Dharma center even have a lending library, or should we all just havet o shell out 10 bucks to amazon so they can transfer us a file?

Whether or not it constitutes "Stealing" in every case (though some are obvious) is hard to say, but for sure, you can tell whether or not your behavior crosses a line you don't want to cross by observing it, if you are using Bit torrent to obtain tons of software, music, whatever...whether it's stealing or not, it is probably contrary to the Dharma.

PS i'm an early adopter of the internet (something like 1994), and am totally familiar with the hows and why's of piracy..basically think it's not worth worrying about whether or not it's stealing, but if you are having to ask the question, i.e. you do it enough that you are prompted to come here and ask about it...you can probably work out your answer.
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Wayfarer »

I think so but I'm admittedly conservative in that regard. I buy music from iTunes that I'm sure is overpriced but then at least the artist gets something. I also subscribe to some newspapers, magazines and web radio stations. At the end of the day intellectual property has to be worth something otherwise what is the incentive to produce anything? I think people are far too casual about it.
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Mouse Soldier »

Does it matter if we don't feel guilty about it? Intention is important, no?

The big ticket items I pirate are textbooks. The prices of those are just so extreme, and I'm already a poor student in considerable debt :/
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Karma Dorje
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Karma Dorje »

At root it is not really so complex. It is illegal in most countries, though there are fair use provisions in many that encompass the uses Johnny mentions. It breaches copyright law, not larceny laws. Why is that? Because copying something does not deprive another of the object. To speak of it as "theft" is to attempt by copyright lobbyists to reframe the discussion to advantage. Nobody thinks copying is such a bad thing. We've all done it at university or at the local library.

It's clear from commentaries on the 2nd precept that in order for a break to be committed you must deprive the owner of an object of that object. Copying does not do so. In fact, throughout the history of Buddhist textual traditions copying was commonplace and even expected as a means to spread the dharma. There simply was not a publishing industry looking to gain profit from the enterprise of dissemination of texts. In the case of Dharma texts, one must think about the translators and organizations that rely on the texts to raise money for their activities. They deserve support and often survive at near subsistence level. However, if one is poor and can not afford a text I don't think there is anything wrong with copying it from someone else who has it.

When it comes to Hollywood films, video games and such, other than the time one wastes on inciting the passions I don't think there is much morally wrong with it. As I said though, it's clearly illegal and there are penalties if you are caught.
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Karma Dorje
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Karma Dorje »

jeeprs wrote:At the end of the day intellectual property has to be worth something otherwise what is the incentive to produce anything? I think people are far too casual about it.
By that logic, Linux would never have gotten off the ground. There are definitely communities of people who produce out of a sense of serving the greater good, to get kudos from their peers or for the sheer pleasure of creation. In many respects, profit is a very poor motivator of people as it drives them to produce as little as possible and attempt to get the most money for it. Craftsmanship belongs to an age when people produced in order to express mastery.
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Huseng »

Copyright laws are not covered in any pre-modern discussion of Buddhist ethics because they didn't exist.

The general understanding of theft requires that you successfully physically move something you recognize as belonging to another person without their consent.

To copy and paste data does not qualify as theft in that respect. In Buddhist ethics you cannot steal a song, because a song is not something you can deprive from another.
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Malcolm »

Indrajala wrote:Copyright laws are not covered in any pre-modern discussion of Buddhist ethics because they didn't exist.

The general understanding of theft requires that you successfully physically move something you recognize as belonging to another person without their consent.

To copy and paste data does not qualify as theft in that respect. In Buddhist ethics you cannot steal a song, because a song is not something you can deprive from another.
Sure it does.

Buddhist ethics also recognize that one must obey the laws of whatever society one belongs to.
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Karma Dorje
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Karma Dorje »

Malcolm wrote:
Indrajala wrote:Copyright laws are not covered in any pre-modern discussion of Buddhist ethics because they didn't exist.

The general understanding of theft requires that you successfully physically move something you recognize as belonging to another person without their consent.

To copy and paste data does not qualify as theft in that respect. In Buddhist ethics you cannot steal a song, because a song is not something you can deprive from another.
Sure it does.

Buddhist ethics also recognize that one must obey the laws of whatever society one belongs to.
The question in the OP was whether one breaks the 2nd precept by copying, not whether generally one should follow the laws of the country you are in.
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Huseng »

Malcolm wrote: Buddhist ethics also recognize that one must obey the laws of whatever society one belongs to.
That's just a general idea really.
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Malcolm »

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote: Buddhist ethics also recognize that one must obey the laws of whatever society one belongs to.
That's just a general idea really.
No, it is a very specific fact of buddhist ethics which as you know has commentarial support.

The sangha is capable of adjudicating only breaches of vows, but not crimes, or even civil disputes.

Taking what is not given applies to anything someone else regards as their property, including intellectual property.

For this reason, while i certainly dont pretend to be a perfect upasaka,, i never diownload pirated music or software. I admit to downloading brilll publications however, and other academic buddhist works that are priced for libraries in order to further my research. But i recognize that it is not a perfect thing to do.
Last edited by Malcolm on Mon Dec 09, 2013 5:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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dzogchungpa
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by dzogchungpa »

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote: Buddhist ethics also recognize that one must obey the laws of whatever society one belongs to.
That's just a general idea really.
I'm curious, what is the, or a, locus classicus for this idea?
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche
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dzogchungpa
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by dzogchungpa »

There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche
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Qing Tian
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Qing Tian »

Frankly, this whole thread is a bit disappointing.

Someone has created something to sell.
Someone else has decided they want it without paying for it.

What else is there to say... beyond justifying poor behaviour?



PS
The big ticket items I pirate are textbooks. The prices of those are just so extreme, and I'm already a poor student in considerable debt


While I understand what you are saying here it is clear that you have little conception of the amount of work (man hours, expertise, etc) that goes into producing a really good textbook, and how relatively small (in book sales terms) the target audience (the customer base) is.
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Huseng »

Malcolm wrote: No, it is a very specific fact of buddhist ethics which as you know has commentarial support.
Like the Vinaya, it is only loosely understood and implemented.

Historically there are plenty of cases of major sanghas intentionally going against the civil law of their country. For example, in the Tang Dynasty there was the whole issue early on about whether sangha were to pay obeisance to their parents and the throne, to which the sangha resisted rather than simply following the law. In recent times there's also the sangha in Myanmar disobeying the government and getting shot down for it.

Of course pirating software and books is a trivial issue comparatively. Still, the laws differ from country to country, and moreover for most of the world's population such laws are irrelevant in practice.

Taking what is not given applies to anything someone else regards as their property, including intellectual property.
Copying and pasting data is not taking. It is copying. Sharing.
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Mouse Soldier »

Qing Tian wrote:it is clear that you have little conception of the amount of work (man hours, expertise, etc) that goes into producing a really good textbook, and how relatively small (in book sales terms) the target audience (the customer base) is.
Is it?
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Mouse Soldier »

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Copying and pasting data is not taking. It is copying. Sharing.
It's not the data we may be "stealing", it's the money that would have been paid out had we purchased the data.
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Karma Dorje
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Re: Does software pirating break the second precept?

Post by Karma Dorje »

Mouse Soldier wrote:
Indrajala wrote:Copying and pasting data is not taking. It is copying. Sharing.
It's not the data we may be "stealing", it's the money that would have been paid out had we purchased the data.
This makes no sense. Who is in possession of "the money that would have been paid out"? You can't steal something that someone might have in the future, only something they actually possess. All of these problem ensue from regarding a metaphor as a actuality. You can't own ideas, only physical things. If someone steals a physical book, it's theft. If someone photocopies the book, it's a copyright infringement and this has certain legal significance. Trying to intrude buddhist morality into what is simply a matter of contractual law is perverse and strange.
"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
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