EDIT: The holder of the copyright in this case is the Buddhist Publication Society and not Access to Insight. But it would be a great benefit to the Dharma if Access would support the free flow of information and support innovators like Noah in their pursuit of an open source practice. For contact info look to the comments.
The conversation of spreading the Dharma has been a hot one amongst Buddhists on G+. Recently a Buddhist monk reformatted the translation of “Path of Purification” provided by Access to Insight free of charge.Personally I love Access to Insight but dislike most of the formatting (it is not mobile friendly and you can’t download much if any of the content. I need to be at a computer to access it). My love for the work they do can be attested to the fact that I link diectly to them from this blog. But with the reaction of another Buddhist monk reformatted and provided accurate attribution of the work and sharing it with others free of charge, I wonder at their intent. Perhaps “Some Access to Insight” or “Access to Insight [but only from our landing page]” would be a more accurate title. The resulting “cease and desist ” for spreading the Dharma from the Buddhist Publication Society [BPS] is unfortunate. This, in short, is bullshit. Noah did not violate copyright and provided what Access was not able to do. I see no malice in his actions of sharing (and properly attributing) the piece and translation to the proper contributors. I have always respected Access for what they do in spreading Dharma but the action they have taken here is not in line with what I _thought_ their mission was. The actions taken by BPS seem to proprietary scent-marking. If you wish no reformatting of your work then state it in your copyright. As I can see now, all mobile versions of the work have been removed from the page leaving only a pdf. Again, if Noah presented this work and translation as his own, the BPS would be completely in their right. If they were selling the book and not providing it free of charge and then Noah posted this, they would within their right to sue. However, a free-work, unchanged [except for formatting, in this case a big plus] and properly attributed does not call for this sort of action. Here is the cease and desist letter:
Dear Venerable,Bhikkhu Nyanatusita
John Bullit of Access to Insight wrote to me that you have unlocked the Path of Purification and put it online in different formats. This file was only to be distributed by Access to Insight and the BPS. We put years of work into this. Please take it off line or we will take action against you.
Buddhist Publication Society
Only Access is allowed to spread their free Dharma. If you attempt to spread it they will sue you. The idea of an online sangha is that we provide resources and make them accessable to others. That is what a practice group does. By limiting this access to insight “Access to Insight” limits our work as a sangha, as a group. By pissing on this tree and saying it is theirs we lose connection to the teachings. When the Buddha taught he did not slam a copyright on the work, he gave it to us to interpret and spread. Noah did a good deed by reformatting the work and like all good deads, was promptly punished.
Remember. The Dharma is only spread through the proper sources. Do not attempt to make it too accessible to all or you may call down the wrath of lawyers.