Copyrighted Dharma books

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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby Nemo » Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:36 am

I wanted a book last year and my neighborhood library had a one month waiting list. So I went on the libraries free wi-fi and downloaded it in three minutes.

One is legal the other is not. I often think of the internet as my library. The current model of distribution is broken and outdated. I would gladly pay the full royalty to the artist, but some greedy middle man wants to take 96% of that cash. So authors and creators side with the content mafia that charged 22$ for a music cd in the 1980's. The current system needs to adapt to the fact that content delivery for text can be less than 1¢.
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby Thrasymachus » Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:15 am

There is a profound thinker, Charles Eisenstein, who writes alot about how money destroys and replaces the concept of the gift. Accordingly he puts his writing online for free, like The Ascent of Humanity as a gift and he has a paypal donation page if you decide to give him a gift in return. He says that if you open yourself up to the concept of the gift, to freely give and freely receive without expectation, it fundamentally changes yourself, and how others react to you. In one of his talks or live interviews Charles mentioned that he was a Professor at Penn State but he was uncomfortable with his job, because he had to grade to his students which to him was morally and intellectually wrong and a betrayal of the respect and relationship he cultivated with them. So he felt had to leave that job even though he had no other form of livelihood lined up. As chance would have it, since he gave the gift of his work freely, Lyn Gerry who hosts Unwelcome guests, a radio/show podcast that I listen to, broadcasting out of Upstate New York was reading his book on her program and the Faculty at Goddard College of Massachusetts heard this. They decided to contact Eisenstein and offer him a job as a Faculty Advisor which he accepted. Now if he believed in copyright this likely would not have happened. But if you open yourself up to give freely you are more liable to receive in kind. Case in point, normally I have no problem pirating books, movies, etc. or just checking them out from the library, gratis. But since he offered his book freely, I gave him a meagerly $6 via paypal, which is not alot, but as I understand it is likely more than the normal the cut of what an author would receive for each book sold.

Another case in point is that there is a great Greek publisher, Kastaniotis that offers e-books with no DRM at all. Since they don't treat people like criminals, I feel they are a publisher that should be supported and I bought a book by Margarita Karapanou from them. How you treat others or behave changes how others react to you.

Now we have methods of transmission thanks to a costly electrical and fiber optic infrastructure that allows us to instantly transfer intellectual work like books across the world at almost no cost, other than what people already pay for this infrastructure. Ultimately keeping up intellectual property does humanity a disservice. If you want to just make as money as possible, I feel no obligation or kindness toward you. If you act differently, so will I and others change tact toward you, if you show you care more about spreading your message, giving your gift without the restrictions meant to maximize monetary exchange at the expense of every other human concern.
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby karmalodro » Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:12 pm

I edit books professionally on a freelance basis. At the moment it's the smaller part of my income, but at some point soon it will become the larger part of my income. I work in what should be my "spare time", and during my "normal working hours" I edit scientific journals anyway. If I stopped working, I would not have the money to live on. I have been told that if I attempted to live like Milarepa (in the mountains, eating wild plants, etc.), I would be dead pretty soon. A normal person like me couldn't survive, or would at least be very unhappy and very unhealthy. So, I need to keep working. While I am able to choose what things I edit (whether Dharma books or books on history, politics or anything else), I cannot choose to do this work for free. I have to get paid... or I die. So, when we are thinking of the ethics of getting paid for one's work in producing Dharma books (or other Dharma materials), we have to keep in mind the fact that people need to be paid for their work. If people are only ever doing Dharma publishing in their "spare time" they might never actually do any Dharma publishing, because lots of people are so busy and work so hard in their normal jobs that there is no "spare time"... or not very much, maybe just a few hours on a Sunday. So the availability of thousands of Dharma books in the shops and places like Amazon these days is due to the fact that people get together to publish teachings (usally as publishing companies) and they pay people for their work. Even when the pulishing entity is not a private company but a non-profit organization or educational institution, the money has to come from somewhere! There has to be a kind and wealthy Buddhist sponsor somewhere, or else funding from government grants, etc. People have to be paid because they need to buy food and pay their rent, clothes, toothpaste, toilet paper... So there has to be an economic model of some kind in place. And the copyright system is simply part of that whole picture. Because if someone spends thousands of pounds or dollars on producing a book (recording, transcribing, translating, editing, designing, commissioning forewards and introductions, producing artwork, indexing, printing, binding, warehousing, distribution, marketing...), then there has to be a return on that investment. Otherwise, nobody gets paid, which means everyone either starves to death or goes to find a new job (maybe sweeping streets), and the publishing company goes BUST. And one major way that publishing companies would fail to make a return on their costs would be if some other person could just take their book, scan it and then reproduce it without permission. Because the ripped-off version would be so much cheaper, and then customers would not necessarily wish to buy the original. They'd just go for the cheap, ripped-off version. Like I said, publishing companies (and employees like me) need to be rewarded for their hard work and investment, otherwise they go out of business. And without publishing companies, there would be MUCH fewer Dharma books and materials out there. In fact, most of the Dharma books in English would never have been produced in the first place! And I would not be able to spend my time on editing books, because there would be nobody to pay me for doing so. Instead, I'd have to go sweeping streets for a living (or selling toilet paper). So, bascially, copyright is an essential aspect of financial survival for those who produce good-quality Dharma materials. If anyone wants to produce Dharma books and not claim copyright on them, or declare that they are free for anyone to copy, or even give the books away for free, then they are perfectly free to do so. That's their right. Nobody will stop you if you would like to produce 50 good-quality Dharma books every year and then give hundreds of thousands of copies away free. If you think you can do that, then please go ahead! You will be very popular and create lots of merit for yourself. But you'd have to find some other source of cash to keep the whole operation running (including buying the toilet paper). And I'm talking about hundreds of thousands of pounds. Maybe millions of pounds... As I said before, such charitable institutions exist, but they require the existence of wealthy sponsors. Once I get to the stage of Milarepa, I may consider editing books for free. Maybe.
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby justsit » Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:58 pm

Dear Editor,

These poor old eyes are crossing trying to read your post. :rolleye: I keep losing my place.

Would greatly appreciate it if perhaps you could use some spacing or paragraphs next time??

Thanks!
Justsit

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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby Jainarayan » Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:17 pm

Huseng wrote: At the end of the day in our present day it is ultimately quite futile to copyright anything and expect it to not be reproduced without the explicit written consent of the publisher and/or author.


A contentious example is musical tabs and chord/lyrics sheets on the internet. Most music sites have had to remove amateur renditions of a song due to "copyright infringement". Lawyers for music publishers are claiming that the original artists are losing money, and suing some of these sites. They are in effect forcing 15 and 16 year olds who want to learn a song to play in their bedrooms, to buy the sheet music, usually at $4-$5 a pop. That, I think is going too far. Of course, as a 55 year old bedroom guitar player, I may be a wee bit biased. :mrgreen:
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flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby Yudron » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:11 pm

Huseng wrote:
Lobsang Damchoi wrote:Other folks would know better, but I imagine that dharma teachers and translators get relatively little for their labors. With so much excellent dharma material available free on the internet (oral and written), it's hard for me to understand the resistance to copyright--is it a cost issue? A matter of principle? Something else?


At the end of the day in our present day it is ultimately quite futile to copyright anything and expect it to not be reproduced without the explicit written consent of the publisher and/or author.

In bygone days it took a lot more effort to pirate a book (and then sell it for your efforts).

Now people scan it and put it online for free, and normally it isn't resold.


This is a real problem. I recently found a copyrighted practice text from our Dharma center had been scanned by someone--sans the copy write page--and put on ScribeD. Unless one has been part of working on translated text projects, one can have no idea how tragic that is for translation and publication efforts in the Buddhadharma. Actually, that very text was our worst publication--a project that there simply had not been enough money--and money equals people--to prioritize inputting and revising.

Get the picture: Middle aged people living in damp yurts and trailers in the backwoods, fighting off the rodents, trying to get money together to go to town and put gas in the car, buy food and so forth. People who have spent years developing skills such as translation, inputting using sh**ty Tibetan software that it equivalent to 1980's word processing programs. Editing Tibetan, standardizing phonetics, refining layout and design. These people do this work out of devotion for their lama and lineage, but that have to eat.

If you want there to be practice texts in the future, please do not rip off Dhrarma publication programs. Or, alternatively, fund the creation of a publication from A - Z, including staff time, on the condition that it will be copyright free. This has been done, by major donor for Thanissaro Bhikku and the FPMT, for example. But, be prepared for some sticker shock.
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby Karma Dorje » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:49 pm

Yudron wrote:
Huseng wrote:
Lobsang Damchoi wrote:Other folks would know better, but I imagine that dharma teachers and translators get relatively little for their labors. With so much excellent dharma material available free on the internet (oral and written), it's hard for me to understand the resistance to copyright--is it a cost issue? A matter of principle? Something else?


At the end of the day in our present day it is ultimately quite futile to copyright anything and expect it to not be reproduced without the explicit written consent of the publisher and/or author.

In bygone days it took a lot more effort to pirate a book (and then sell it for your efforts).

Now people scan it and put it online for free, and normally it isn't resold.


This is a real problem. I recently found a copyrighted practice text from our Dharma center had been scanned by someone--sans the copy write page--and put on ScribeD. Unless one has been part of working on translated text projects, one can have no idea how tragic that is for translation and publication efforts in the Buddhadharma. Actually, that very text was our worst publication--a project that there simply had not been enough money--and money equals people--to prioritize inputting and revising.

Get the picture: Middle aged people living in damp yurts and trailers in the backwoods, fighting off the rodents, trying to get money together to go to town and put gas in the car, buy food and so forth. People who have spent years developing skills such as translation, inputting using sh**ty Tibetan software that it equivalent to 1980's word processing programs. Editing Tibetan, standardizing phonetics, refining layout and design. These people do this work out of devotion for their lama and lineage, but that have to eat.

If you want there to be practice texts in the future, please do not rip off Dhrarma publication programs. Or, alternatively, fund the creation of a publication from A - Z, including staff time, on the condition that it will be copyright free. This has been done, by major donor for Thanissaro Bhikku and the FPMT, for example. But, be prepared for some sticker shock.


I completely agree that we must fund the translators. However there is something to be said for changing the distribution model. Almost everyone will pay a few dollars for a digital version of a text, which costs nothing in printing and distribution. Some like PKTC charge the same amount for digital and paper copies. This is just foolish. What would make a huge amount of sense, and I am shocked that no one has thought about it yet is a subscription-based model: a translation group could agree to produce a certain number and specific set of translations in exchange for a subscription fee of $100/yr. or something like this. That way they get funded up front and don't have to worry about selling their work at a later point with attendant copyright concerns.

Personally, I always want a hard copy so it's kind of irrelevant for me but Huseng's point is well-taken. Often the person who is copying these texts may not have the money to buy the hard copy anyway.
Where it does impact me-- I want a digital copy of my library that I can take with me when traveling. If I have the hard copy, I shouldn't have to pay the same cost for a digital copy. IT publishers have been smart about this for years, distributing a PDF of the book with every hard copy.

The problem is that everyone is clinging to outmoded business models, not that those pesky "pirates" are stealing everybody's stuff.
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby Will » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:55 pm

Too many of these posts have it backwards. The focus is on getting the texts, not on giving. One of the prime functions of lay folk is to support the existence & spread of the Dharma by giving money or their own labor. Whether the translators are lay or monastics, support them with money or your own volunteer labor. Quit grumbling about the 'system', where you rarely get some Dharma for nothing.
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby pemachophel » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:04 pm

I was a professional publisher, translator, and editor for 30 years. I know of two companies, my own (now owned by someone else) and a good friend's, that have simply stopped publishing due to the pervasive breech of copyright via the Internet. In the last couple of years I worked for the company, part of every week was spent playing wack-a-mole with people/companies who were republishing our copyrighted works on-line, either for free or for profit. I understand the arguments of those who question the very concept of copyright and believe that all information should be free (including Dharma), however, the reality that I saw is that companies like mine are simply moving out of the publishing industry. Hence, less information will ultimately be available, not more, at least really good, time-consuming information. If people cannot expect to make a fair return on their investment of time, money, and effort, then they simply won't write, translate, edit, design, and/or publish. That's not theory; that's the experience of someone who was on the inside of the industry.

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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby Karma Dorje » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:27 pm

pemachophel wrote:I was a professional publisher, translator, and editor for 30 years. I know of two companies, my own (now owned by someone else) and a good friend's, that have simply stopped publishing due to the pervasive breech of copyright via the Internet. In the last couple of years I worked for the company, part of every week was spent playing wack-a-mole with people/companies who were republishing our copyrighted works on-line, either for free or for profit. I understand the arguments of those who question the very concept of copyright and believe that all information should be free (including Dharma), however, the reality that I saw is that companies like mine are simply moving out of the publishing industry. Hence, less information will ultimately be available, not more, at least really good, time-consuming information. If people cannot expect to make a fair return on their investment of time, money, and effort, then they simply won't write, translate, edit, design, and/or publish. That's not theory; that's the experience of someone who was on the inside of the industry.

:namaste:


No the reality is that we have more people publishing now than ever before. The quality of translation is better than it has ever been. Why? What used to require typesetting now requires no more than an ordinary laptop or desktop with (often free) software. There is a critical mass of high quality Tibetan language learning materials. The Internet enables cooperation across geographies we could only dream about before. Teachers are accessible via web conference, rather than expensive travel. There has been a sea change in technology from the old publishing world that I also worked in.

The old business models are failing, no question. There is simply no way to maintain the old scarcity-based model in the digital age. However, we have the ability now to do things like crowdsourcing translation efforts, micro-funding translation, subscription models, etc. We can lament the passing of companies like Snow Lion (which I do), but the fact is we can't get the genie back into the bottle and we should stop trying. Look at what has happened in the enterprise software market. Piracy is even more rife there, but it has put very few companies out of business. Business models adapted.

I completely disagree that time-consuming things won't get done. Look at Linux, MySQL, SugarCRM, etc. The open source model has produced extremely effective software completely divorced from any hope of return on investment. It was done by people with a love of the technology. We need to similarly empower business models in the dharma and translation communities. After all, we shouldn't be behind technology geeks in sharing and community engagement. This is supposed to be part of our practice.

Nobody that I know has stopped buying hard copies of books because they can get a PDF of it from Scribd. In fact, Scribd provides a wonderful distribution mechanism to sell ebooks for those that adjust. The sky is the limit for innovation. Handwringing and giving up are really not options.
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby justsit » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:52 pm

Thank you, KD!
:twothumbsup:

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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby Son of Buddha » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:27 pm

LastLegend wrote:I don't mean to upset people with this post at all. But lately it came to me that Buddha had taught Dharma for 49 years of his life, but he never claimed that what he taught came from him. Today, there are Dharma books that have personal copyrights that require permission from the publishers or writers for redistribution. Should Dharma teachings be freely available to all sentient beings? Please shed some lights and share your thoughts.

Keep in mind that I am not saying copyrighted Dharma books are not helpful. I hope I am not upsetting anyone.

Thank you.



Tbe sutra is not copyrighted but the translations are.

It all comes down to the issue of money unfortunately.

Go ask a translator if you can use his translation of that he charges 30$ for and tell him you want to put it into book form and give it away for free (or for the cost to make the actual book) well say 3$.

Okay whats his answer going to be?and WHY?
I have only meet ONE copyright holder who has given us permission to reprint his translation,without seeking money or anything in return.
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby Sara H » Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:53 pm

Nemo wrote:I wanted a book last year and my neighborhood library had a one month waiting list. So I went on the libraries free wi-fi and downloaded it in three minutes.

One is legal the other is not. I often think of the internet as my library. The current model of distribution is broken and outdated. I would gladly pay the full royalty to the artist, but some greedy middle man wants to take 96% of that cash. So authors and creators side with the content mafia that charged 22$ for a music cd in the 1980's. The current system needs to adapt to the fact that content delivery for text can be less than 1¢.


Nemo has it right on the head here.

For all those interested Forbes has an extremely good article on the subject that explains exactly that, and more:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/ ... -kill-you/


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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby etinin » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:09 pm

Capitalism is deeply flawed and profoundly against buddhist teachings.
I doubt any legit guru would care if you pirated their book for the reason of not being able to afford it or find it. The only exception is when it comes to books which are supposed to have some degree of secrecy. One of my teachers was talking about the pirated Dzogchen books of her tradition floating around the internet. But even them, the point was to reiterate the importance of completing Ngondro. Never, at any point, there was any attempt to attack people for not paying.
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby mandala » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:27 pm

Interesting topic... I know a Dharma Teacher who gets his students to make bulk photocopies of all kinds of dharma books (that are not 'free for distribution') so he can give them away to students - on one hand I see that it's spreading the dharma, but it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable because it seems to me to be a form of stealing... ie: taking what is not freely given.

While I do believe that dharma is given freely - one can access teachings in person and online for free - I think it's equally important to support the works of buddhist organisations/teachers by paying for books, dharma supplies, offering donations for teachings if you can etc.
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:56 pm

This reminds me of a story.
A famous Tibetan Lama was giving a public talk at a Buddhist center in the United States.
and the local sangha sponsoring the event was asking for a suggested $10 donation per admission ticket.
When one attendee handed over a $5.00 bill,
the person selling the tickets said,
"You know, this is a very wise lama. His words are precious.
Of course, nobody will be turned away,
but $10 is really not too much to listen to this talk tonight!"
And the visitor replied,
"That may be true, but I am only going to be listening to the translator!"
:rolling:

You can go and find ancient buddhist texts and translate them
and not have to pay any royalties to the Buddha.
It is the translations that are copyrighted, not the teachings.
Copyrights can also protect the work
from intentional misuse.
This may not apply to written words as much as it does to reproductions of Buddhist artwork.
.
.
.
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby Sara H » Fri Mar 29, 2013 2:56 am

That's pretty funny!
:)
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IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
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We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby Indrajala » Fri Mar 29, 2013 4:39 am

mandala wrote:Interesting topic... I know a Dharma Teacher who gets his students to make bulk photocopies of all kinds of dharma books (that are not 'free for distribution') so he can give them away to students - on one hand I see that it's spreading the dharma, but it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable because it seems to me to be a form of stealing... ie: taking what is not freely given.


We need not be under the illusion that abstract patterns of language, either reproduced on paper or in digital form, somehow constitute the property of someone.

Technically the song "Happy Birthday" is "owned" by someone according to law, but that doesn't mean I have to believe that.
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby Yudron » Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:07 am

Karma Dorje wrote:
pemachophel wrote:I was a professional publisher, translator, and editor for 30 years. I know of two companies, my own (now owned by someone else) and a good friend's, that have simply stopped publishing due to the pervasive breech of copyright via the Internet. In the last couple of years I worked for the company, part of every week was spent playing wack-a-mole with people/companies who were republishing our copyrighted works on-line, either for free or for profit. I understand the arguments of those who question the very concept of copyright and believe that all information should be free (including Dharma), however, the reality that I saw is that companies like mine are simply moving out of the publishing industry. Hence, less information will ultimately be available, not more, at least really good, time-consuming information. If people cannot expect to make a fair return on their investment of time, money, and effort, then they simply won't write, translate, edit, design, and/or publish. That's not theory; that's the experience of someone who was on the inside of the industry.

:namaste:


No the reality is that we have more people publishing now than ever before. The quality of translation is better than it has ever been. Why? What used to require typesetting now requires no more than an ordinary laptop or desktop with (often free) software. There is a critical mass of high quality Tibetan language learning materials. The Internet enables cooperation across geographies we could only dream about before. Teachers are accessible via web conference, rather than expensive travel. There has been a sea change in technology from the old publishing world that I also worked in.

The old business models are failing, no question. There is simply no way to maintain the old scarcity-based model in the digital age. However, we have the ability now to do things like crowdsourcing translation efforts, micro-funding translation, subscription models, etc. We can lament the passing of companies like Snow Lion (which I do), but the fact is we can't get the genie back into the bottle and we should stop trying. Look at what has happened in the enterprise software market. Piracy is even more rife there, but it has put very few companies out of business. Business models adapted.

I completely disagree that time-consuming things won't get done. Look at Linux, MySQL, SugarCRM, etc. The open source model has produced extremely effective software completely divorced from any hope of return on investment. It was done by people with a love of the technology. We need to similarly empower business models in the dharma and translation communities. After all, we shouldn't be behind technology geeks in sharing and community engagement. This is supposed to be part of our practice.

Nobody that I know has stopped buying hard copies of books because they can get a PDF of it from Scribd. In fact, Scribd provides a wonderful distribution mechanism to sell ebooks for those that adjust. The sky is the limit for innovation. Handwringing and giving up are really not options.


The quality of the translation is better than it has ever been largely because of one man. George Soros. Because of his son-in-laws' interest in Tibetan Buddhism we have the Tsadra Foundation. For years Tsadra has financially supported a team of the most experienced Tibetan to English and French translators to spend years working full time on translating critical texts. If it weren't for Tsadra the Kalu Rinpoche's project of translating Kongtrul's Treasury of Knowledge would never have been completed. And they didn't fund the printing, just the translation--hence the (high) price of those volumes doesn't even begin to cover the costs of creating them.

So, please do encourage any multi-billionairies you know to start funding Dharma translation and publication. There is plenty more to do!
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Re: Copyrighted Dharma books

Postby Indrajala » Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:14 am

Yudron, that's actually a reasonable model given the present day circumstances where print runs might amount to a few thousand copies with limited sales to be expected.

To sponsor translations is probably the best option for financing these projects for the simple fact that market demand won't supply the adequate profit margins necessary for mass publication.

In my experience I would say that most translation projects will be done at a financial loss when all things are considered, which makes commercial publication unrealistic. Like academic works, you just can't expect wide readership.
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