Who owns the Dharma?

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Who owns the Dharma?

Postby Leo Rivers » Wed May 08, 2013 3:53 pm

Who owns the Dharma? Who owns a scripture or sutta? I ask this just to put it out there. Does stripping the text of footnotes and introduction "liberate" it? I thieve without shame, myself.

My question is based on a practical concern. What is the LEGALITY of having a fervent seeker or a guru's minion re-type the contents of a published academic work and post it on the web or distribute it in a "teaching packet" as part of a "course"
EXAMPLE: Alokamala© by Kambala - http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php?title=Kambala%27s_Alokamala&redirect=no
Or the global anarchy of PDFs files! ; )
EXAMPLE: Kurihara, Sh. - The Classification of Kambala's School - http://www.scribd.com/doc/50377179/Kuri ... l#download

Vasubandhu's family hasn't kept his Viṃśika-Kārikas and Triṃśika-Kārikas pieces in copyright, so Microsoft can copy-write and own them, right?
Image Image

If the public's tax dollars pay for a scholar to translate, can't we own his translations?

Without these amazing translators we are relegated to Kessinger reprints of 50 year old editions
http://www.amazon.com/Awakening-Faith-Mahayana-Doctrine-Buddhism/dp/0548718822/ref=sr_1_103?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368024339&sr=1-103&keywords=kessinger+buddhism

and dubvious Ven. Master "in his own words" renderings, which were by the way the first wave of Chinese translations were sometimes done. AH! Django :sage:
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby Son of Buddha » Wed May 08, 2013 8:33 pm

I dont think anyone owns the Dharma,where they get us is they own the translation.
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Wed May 08, 2013 9:04 pm

No one owns the Dharma. Translations, interpretations, and commentaries, anything of personal opinion or intellect, however, is owned by the individual.
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby LastLegend » Wed May 08, 2013 10:34 pm

Thank you dyanaprajna2011
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby Will » Wed May 08, 2013 10:53 pm

dyanaprajna2011 wrote:No one owns the Dharma. Translations, interpretations, and commentaries, anything of personal opinion or intellect, however, is owned by the individual.


So Chinese translations from the Sanskrit are 'owned' by Kumarajiva's crew of translators? Maybe there should be an Ananda fund for any DNA-determined relatives of him - the transcriber of so much of Buddha's teachings?

Just give credit to any translator & publisher of a text we pass on and forget about ownership (until a lawsuit targets you). :smile:
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Thu May 09, 2013 12:29 am

Will wrote:
dyanaprajna2011 wrote:No one owns the Dharma. Translations, interpretations, and commentaries, anything of personal opinion or intellect, however, is owned by the individual.


So Chinese translations from the Sanskrit are 'owned' by Kumarajiva's crew of translators? Maybe there should be an Ananda fund for any DNA-determined relatives of him - the transcriber of so much of Buddha's teachings?

Just give credit to any translator & publisher of a text we pass on and forget about ownership (until a lawsuit targets you). :smile:


Good point :p
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby Jinzang » Thu May 09, 2013 2:38 am

Someone who translates a text has a copyright on the translation for the duration that the law allows. They don't "own" the translation. However, almost everyone, not just students of the dharma, ignore copyright when the text is freely available. Welcome to the Internet. Before you get too badly bent out of shape by this, you should consider the monetary loss is small or non-existent. They would not have paid for the translation .
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu May 09, 2013 10:18 pm

Jinzang wrote:Someone who translates a text has a copyright on the translation for the duration that the law allows. They don't "own" the translation. However, almost everyone, not just students of the dharma, ignore copyright when the text is freely available. Welcome to the Internet. Before you get too badly bent out of shape by this, you should consider the monetary loss is small or non-existent. They would not have paid for the translation .


I thought the translations were considered intellectual property rights of the translators and were held to copy right of the translator.

How long is the duration laws for a copy right on translations last?
Does this mean you can make reprints of anouther persons translation without asking?I was under the empression that a persons copyright was indefenitely and his permission must be asked if you wanted to reprint his translation.

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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby LastLegend » Thu May 09, 2013 10:38 pm

When it comes to Dharma, I am not buying this intellectual property bs. Hey it's just me.
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby Son of Buddha » Thu May 09, 2013 11:42 pm

LastLegend wrote:When it comes to Dharma, I am not buying this intellectual property bs. Hey it's just me.


yea I think its BS also.
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby tingdzin » Thu May 23, 2013 12:37 am

I'll hazard a guess that none of the people who think that the idea of intellectual property is BS have ever contributed anything to a serious translation, editing, or commentarial effort.
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby LastLegend » Thu May 23, 2013 12:53 am

George Ohsawa, the founder of Zen Macrobiotics, said something like this, "In the West, we were taught to give and take. In the Far East, we were taught to give, give, give, and give infinitely." That's what he called justice.
Last edited by LastLegend on Thu May 23, 2013 12:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby Konchog1 » Thu May 23, 2013 12:54 am

tingdzin wrote:I'll hazard a guess that none of the people who think that the idea of intellectual property is BS have ever contributed anything to a serious translation, editing, or commentarial effort.
Rather, the key point is, a translator, editor, or commenter who is upset over losing money or fame due to piracy isn't rejoicing over the spread of the Dharma. And if they aren't rejoicing over the spread of the Dharma, then they are using the Dharma to make money/a name for themselves.
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu May 23, 2013 2:43 am

Konchog1 wrote:
tingdzin wrote:I'll hazard a guess that none of the people who think that the idea of intellectual property is BS have ever contributed anything to a serious translation, editing, or commentarial effort.
Rather, the key point is, a translator, editor, or commenter who is upset over losing money or fame due to piracy isn't rejoicing over the spread of the Dharma. And if they aren't rejoicing over the spread of the Dharma, then they are using the Dharma to make money/a name for themselves.


Why do you assume "upset over losing money or fame"? How do you know the translator isn't trying to support a family, pay rent, etc.? Why is "rejoicing over the spread of the Dharma" the opposite of right livelihood? Also, in some professions, making a name for yourself (in other words, being widely recognized for the quality of work that you do) is a necessary part of the job, if you want to have that job and continue getting work doing that job. Finally, very few translators or technical writers get rich from royalties, especially the academic translations of ancient texts. We're not talking Harry Potter here. You might get an advance from a publisher, and then subsequently, a small, set percentage from the net profit book sales, which is much less than the price of the book.

What I find ironic is that trying to make living translating texts is regarded as some how violating some Buddhist ethics, but that essentially stealing the work that someone has done, just so you don't have to shell out a few bucks is not.

Before we go pointing a finger at others and calling them greedy
maybe we need to look at our own motivations.
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Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Thu May 23, 2013 3:02 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu May 23, 2013 2:50 am

LastLegend wrote:When it comes to Dharma, I am not buying this intellectual property bs. Hey it's just me, and I like breaking peoples windows and stomping on little birds.


I know you didn't say that.
I reinterpreted what you said, and distorted it by adding something you didn't say.
But if you think intellectual property is BS then that shouldn't bother you,
because you don't own the words you posted. Totally open-source!

This is like getting a crappy translation.
When you pay for a good translation, you are paying for years of study and research that went into that translation.
Remember, things arise in dependence on many conditions.
That is basic Buddhism 101.
Translations are no different. They don't just appear out of nowhere.
When that person was busy carefully translating the Dharma words that you so cherish,
it means he or she wasn't doing something else to make a living
something that might have paid a great deal more.
maybe he or she thought that translating dharma for your benefit was just a little bit more important,
even though it paid a lot less than some other job.
And so, we say thank you to that person by stealing from them because
"that intellectual rights stuff is BS".
Apples grow for free on trees too,
so let's go help ourselves to free apples that somebody else worked all day picking,
and is selling to earn their living.
The rights to intellectual property are not only about money.
It's also about protecting the integrity of the work, so that somebody can't do what i just did,
just take what you write and add to it, distort it, or use it in some other way without your permission.

Just thought you'd like to know.

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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby yegyal » Thu May 23, 2013 5:28 am

Konchog1 wrote:
tingdzin wrote:I'll hazard a guess that none of the people who think that the idea of intellectual property is BS have ever contributed anything to a serious translation, editing, or commentarial effort.
Rather, the key point is, a translator, editor, or commenter who is upset over losing money or fame due to piracy isn't rejoicing over the spread of the Dharma. And if they aren't rejoicing over the spread of the Dharma, then they are using the Dharma to make money/a name for themselves.


How would piracy limit one's fame or hinder making a name for oneself? If anything, it would further these agendas. As for the money, I don't know any academics or translators that are "in it for the money," but if you do please let us know how they actually do it. Because from my experience, a garbage man makes more than your average translator, plus they get medical insurance. Besides, I hardly think the abundance of Dharma books available for download on the internet counts as the spread of the Dharma. At times I even think it undermines it, but that's another topic entirely.
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby tobes » Thu May 23, 2013 6:43 am

I've thought a lot about this.

It's clear that individual property rights are tacitly presupposed in canonical Buddhist texts. It is unambiguous that it is unwholesome to steal and wholesome to give. A concept of individual ownership is given by that moral logic.

However, there is no way to ground an account of natural rights to individual ownership (Locke) or innate rights (Kant) - and the logic of individual property rights in the liberal west is premised on those accounts.

I think that the conceptual logic of possessing phenomenal things or abstract/immaterial things (such as ideas or intellectual work) is problematised by Buddhist metaphysics and practice. We can think about monks and nuns relinquishing even their hair, and the way that it is impossible to establish independently existing entities of any kind in the Madhyamakan tradition.

So, I think the issue is a little complex, but I'm on the side of LastLegend. Intellectual property is BS.

Last week I tried to find an online copy of the Lam Rim for a discussion group - and it was exceedingly difficult. And I realised that the internet has truly become a domain of capital. This is not conducive to the spread of dharma; it hinders it.

I do not see how anyone would be harmed by me forwarding a short pdf of a chapter of Tsong Khapa to two people overseas. I do not see Tsong Khapa receiving any dues for his labour. The translators are all famous tenured academics, they do not need royalities.

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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby LastLegend » Thu May 23, 2013 6:46 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
LastLegend wrote:When it comes to Dharma, I am not buying this intellectual property bs. Hey it's just me, and I like breaking peoples windows and stomping on little birds.


I know you didn't say that.
I reinterpreted what you said, and distorted it by adding something you didn't say.
But if you think intellectual property is BS then that shouldn't bother you,
because you don't own the words you posted. Totally open-source!

This is like getting a crappy translation.
When you pay for a good translation, you are paying for years of study and research that went into that translation.
Remember, things arise in dependence on many conditions.
That is basic Buddhism 101.
Translations are no different. They don't just appear out of nowhere.
When that person was busy carefully translating the Dharma words that you so cherish,
it means he or she wasn't doing something else to make a living
something that might have paid a great deal more.
maybe he or she thought that translating dharma for your benefit was just a little bit more important,
even though it paid a lot less than some other job.
And so, we say thank you to that person by stealing from them because
"that intellectual rights stuff is BS".
Apples grow for free on trees too,
so let's go help ourselves to free apples that somebody else worked all day picking,
and is selling to earn their living.
The rights to intellectual property are not only about money.
It's also about protecting the integrity of the work, so that somebody can't do what i just did,
just take what you write and add to it, distort it, or use it in some other way without your permission.

Just thought you'd like to know.

.
.
.


I may or may not get back to you later on, but right I am tired.
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu May 23, 2013 12:30 pm

tobes wrote:
I think that the conceptual logic of possessing phenomenal things or abstract/immaterial things (such as ideas or intellectual work) is problematised by Buddhist metaphysics and practice. We can think about monks and nuns relinquishing even their hair, and the way that it is impossible to establish independently existing entities of any kind in the Madhyamakan tradition.

So, I think the issue is a little complex, but I'm on the side of LastLegend. Intellectual property is BS.

I do not see how anyone would be harmed by me forwarding a short pdf of a chapter of Tsong Khapa to two people overseas. I do not see Tsong Khapa receiving any dues for his labour. The translators are all famous tenured academics, they do not need royalities.



So, if something is tangible, made of material stuff, it's real (can be considered property)
but ideas and words are not real (cannot be considered property).
From a Buddhist point of view,
this certainly puts a lot of stock in the "reality" of the material world
and doesn't say much for the argument that all phenomena are a projection of Mind.

There is something called fair use. You can quote, quite extensively from copyrighted works.
The issue of infringing upon intellectual rights has to do with
--taking what someone else has produced by their labor,
--and owns as a result of their labor (attention, ye workers of the world...!!!)
and who is trying to sell what he has produced,
....taking that and copying it without his permission and giving it away for free,
which is basically undermining his livelihood.
It's like being Robin Hood, except that instead of stealing from the rich to give to the poor
it is stealing from the worker to give to those who can probably afford to pay fairly.

And then justifying that action because one has some kind of good intentions
(the ends justifies the means)
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: Who owns the Dharma?

Postby JKhedrup » Thu May 23, 2013 1:32 pm

Not all translators are famous tenured academics, I am not sure how you got that impression. Only a few are.

Gavin Kilty, an excellent translator who produced Mirror of Beryl amongst many others, had to teach ESL to support his family. Good on him, some might argue-but imagine how much more he could accomplish if able to work full time.

Sorry I have to correct sucg misperceptions lest people think translators don:t need money and food for rent like everyone else. In China and Tibet, there was patronage for translation efforts, but this is not the case in the west.
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A wise man keeps them secret within.
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But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
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