In today's modern world, any translation done is protected by law. The Buddha also stated that one should respect the laws of the land.
Like I said...
, in Buddhist principle you can't own the rights to a sutra translation."
I understand the law recognizes copyright protection laws of translations of holy scriptures.
However, from a Buddhist perspective in principle I would argue that nobody can own the rights to a sutra translation. They might exist in worldly law, but that doesn't mean much to me.
Thus if somebody distributes copies of sutra or other Buddhist works online for free it is indeed a meritorious deed.
Even if somebody is selling your work and making a profit off of it, then they're still distributing a dharma text.
I don't think that the legal and the Buddhist perspectives are as separate as you think. The legal side is to cover people's rights. If people's rights are not being respected, then it's not Buddhist and not in line in the with Dharma. However, I do totally see what you're saying, and I can easily see how many people could feel this way. However, I also think that most translators these days feel differently. I think it's a complex issue; it's certainly not on the side of the translator has total and complete rights and control, but it's certainly not on the side of anyone can do whatever the hell they want with a translator's work just because it happens to be a Buddhist/spiritual work.
I simply don't agree with you on this point of selling someone else's work and making a profit off of it is also somehow a meritorious deed.
The point here is that there is a important dynamic going on in terms of control, for the sake of the purity and authenticity of the translation and scripture itself. The translator should be consulted first before any serious distribution of his work (meaning any kind of publishing). This is also not just for the sake of the translator, but for the sake of the translation itself! That was actually the case with this Mahashri Sutra thing. Had I known that it was going to be distributed on a much different level and format, I would have edited the translation and made corrections. I would have double-checked so that people weren't praying to a plaque that wasn't what I thought was the perfect translation.
Thus, in a way I feel like it has even more to do with respect to the translation and scriptures themselves, and to the spirit that the translation was offered in. An obvious side note is that I offered this scripture in generosity, and was disrespected and taken advantage. The way I see it, the Mahashri Sutra was also disrespected and taken advantage of.
I do understand that there is a cultural difference here, especially in Chinese culture, which has traditionally not given Buddhist translators much credit or money, because 1) the translators were/are usually monks who are not supposed to be working anyway, and 2) because the sutra translations are usually done for free distributions or directly for a Buddhist publication society. The situation is different with translators who come from other cultures.
Oh well, you're dealing with a buisness person and not a religious organization. Cut your losses already. The amount of time you spend complaining about this could be spent working on another translation.
The sutra was not done for the sake of Lillian Too's business enterprises. It was meant as a text for free distribution to help others. I shouldn't have had to be dealing with a business person at all.. the point is that my permission was not asked, and this violated my own boundaries as well as the integrity of the text.
However I think you're right in that it's not something to worry about for my own sake -- however I personally feel that this is an important issue that goes beyond just me.
I do not think that the translators of the Tang dynasty would have been very happy to see their translations of the Mahayana sutras being used to sell products, without their permission or offering any recognition or compensation.
Scriptures were bought and sold in the marketplace. Not until the Song Dynasty with the development of largescale woodblock printing industries did any kind of copyright ideas exist in Chinese civilization. I won't speculate in great detail how the Tang dynasty translators would have felt, but I can imagine they wouldn't have made a big deal over it.
I think they may have made a big deal about it if they felt that the person who was producing such items was behaving unethically and with disregard for both the scripture itself as well as the translator. Being disrespectful and behaving unethically to the translator is, in a sense, being disrespectful to the entire transmission of the text. I think it calls a lot of ethical questions into issue. But that's not really here nor there. Basically the publication of a scripture in such a mass-produced way as plaques requires that some thought and consideration be put into it, just for example making sure everything is correct in the scripture. I also feel that in today's world, both legally and conventionally, the translator/author should be asked first.
My translation was and is also provided for free distribution on my website. However, it is also protected by copyright, which means that if it is going to be re-published in any form, and especially if it is going to be used for commercial sale, then it is protected by law. Moreover, if you are going to use someone else's work for your own profit, it is in Buddhist terms unethical not to ask them their permission or to not give them at least some compensation. The point is that she should have asked to use the translation, and worked out a deal with me that was fair.
Well, what do you expect when you put it online for free? Once something is on the net it is fair game for anyone to take. You should expect this to happen. Few people respect intellectual property rights (I personally don't recognize their existence because I don't believe you can own abstract ideas).
I am guessing you are probably not someone who creates intellectual property, or at least not that other people could take advantage of you for. A translation or any other written work is not just an abstract idea. It's a set of words, set down on paper or on the internet. You could argue that no one can own anything, since in the Buddhist sense everything can be seen as an abstract idea. Where do you draw the line? I'm not totally sure, but I will tell you that billions of people around the world cannot afford to agree with you.
I disagree that "few people" respect intellectual property rights. Most people, I would say, respect them enough that they will at least consider the author of a given work enough to ask their permission if they plan on using their work for some kind of publication or business. If they are not aware of the author, that's a different story, but Lillian was more than aware of my existence, she actually pretty much knew me personally. I would say Lillian's conduct was far below average, especially within Buddhist circles.
The fact that she did nothing to reconcile my concerns to me reveals that her intentions were not to spread the Dharma but to make money.
The intent of my making the translation available online was to spread the sutra, not so someone could use my translation to make hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Would you be complaining if she cut you half of the profit? You'd probably be quite pleased with a six digit cheque in hand.
You missed the point entirely here. I think that there is something in the story that you don't understand, or some principle that you are not seeing.
Would I be complaning if she cut me half the profit? No, that's the point. She should have consulted me, got my blessing, had me review the work, offered me a fair monetary compensation, credited me as translator, and that's it. I am not complaining, per se, about people making money off the Dharma, but making money off the Dharma AND disrespecting the translator and the translation and the scripture.