I can't use the Path of Purification PDF version of AccessToInsight.org because ...

  1. I want to restructure/retranslate Visuddhimagga into english.
  2. I want to add the reference link in each word of Visuddhimagga to the source in tipitaka.
  3. I want to make the link directly to the expected page of Visuddhimagga and make the highlight to the expected text when I answer or make an article.

... so I want the computerised text version, to publish in HTML format on the internet.

It requires a very long time to do a new translation of it all, because English is not my native language -- and I require a very long time as well to translate pāli even in my native language -- and so I think it would be faster and more effective to restructure from another's version/translation.


  1. Is there a free (i.e. libre or open) version of Visuddhimagga in a computerized text format?
  2. Is there a computerised text version of the Budaedu's Visuddhimagga version?

Or can you tell me about obtaining permission (and the data) from a copyright holder?

I'm principally looking for something like a license which allows:

  • Distribution and
  • Creating a derivative work

... and a corresponding text format which can be converted to e.g. HTML.


5 Answers 5


The two versions of the PDF (i.e. Budaedu and Access to Insight -- and actually the copy on Access to Insight's was published by the Buddhist Publication Society) are both based on similar text (i.e. translated from the Pali by Bikkhu Nanamoli).

I know approximately what PDF format is (i.e. it's a container for data) but don't know it well (e.g. I don't know the many software tools available to work with it) -- based on that, I think that:

  • Budaedu's PDF appears to contain images (photographs of the pages, not text)
  • The A2I/BPS PDF seems to contain text (you can select words), but you can't copy words -- I don't know why, e.g. if that's because it's copy-protected or some other reason. I'm sure it is text, though, e.g. because I can search for (and find) words in it like "edition" -- and because there's a "Publisher's note" which thanks volunteers who converted a "previous edition to digital text".

If you only have images of pages, one possibility might be to use any OCR software to convert it to text. That (the "recognition" process) isn't error-free but may be good, i.e. if you can read the image easily then so can a computer. Apparently the BPS already did that in their edition.

It was translated in 1956 -- I don't know who has the copyright or whether it was e.g. copyleft somehow by the author. Normally (i.e. in law) the author would automatically have the copyright -- unless they assign it to someone else, e.g. to a publisher, or to the public domain.

So I think you have two problems:

  • Discover the copyright status. You cannot ask the author (i.e. the translator), perhaps you can ask one of publishers e.g. http://www.bps.lk
  • Get a file with suitable format -- in that file doesn't already exist someone might create one, whether using OCR or a PDF conversion library or something I don't know -- a solvable problem, a non-trivial problem however, but maybe a software problem, one that might require volunteers.

I guess that any publisher might have copyright of their own version -- e.g. even if the underlying text is public domain, possibly the BPS have copyright of their version because they went to the effort of converting it to a more usable format, or something like that.

So, theoretically, unless you find data which says "free to redistribute and modify" or "public domain", it may be best to get permission from whichever publisher it is before you base your further work on their publication.

I'm not certain that your use-case is covered by the permissions granted which are quoted in Damith's answer (which allow you to copy the whole PDF unaltered -- or, to reproduce parts of it in other publications).

Some people disagree with the whole concept of copyright, but if you're not one of them you might want to ask the publisher -- explain what you want and try to get their permission.

  • BPS used to nearly sue people who did ignore Silas, starting what Chris ebcourages to (akusala! not to speakof breaking laws), just for the case if respecting laws... horrible here... Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 9:55
  • I've seen people argue about whether Buddhist text can and should be copyright. I don't want to reproduce those arguments here, or take sides, nor even give detailed legal advice about whether and which copyright laws might be applicable in theory and in practice. Many publishers say, "If you're not sure about your intended use, ask us". I've no particular experience with BPS.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 10:05
  • When you have no ideas and respect of Silas why moderating Buddhism? When having no respect for laws and intention of owners, why moderating and advice at all? To accumulate akusala? Silas are clear, taking in trust as well. Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 10:07
  • Copyright has been discussed (argued about) in other topics on this site (some of which you might remember). It's not my job as moderator to take sides, i.e. to decide who's right and who's wrong on any topic (my job as moderator is rather to end or to delete arguments, not to participate in them).
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 10:14

on archive.org you usually get several file types, for the text alone https://archive.org/download/Visuddhimagga-ThePathOfPurification


I suppose the "Path of Purification" available at AccessToInsight.org is the third online edition of the Visuddhimagga which you've mentioned as "Budaedu's Visuddhimagga version". So, it's better if you use the most recent edition.

Under the terms of use in the PDF book, "Path of Purification" it has mentioned:

Copyright revised, third, online edition. Copyright © 2011 Buddhist Publication Society.

You may redistribute this PDF file in an unaltered form provided that:
(1) you must only make such unaltered PDF copies available free of charge;
(2) you clearly indicate that any passages of this work reproduced into other publications (printed as well as digital) are derived from this source document. Otherwise, all rights reserved.

So, whenever you use any passages from this book always keep in mind to give references to the source document. It's much better to contact Buddhist Publication Society before you start the work and get a written approval as such copyright notices can be interpreted differently.

Buddhist Publication Society,
P.O. Box 61, 54,
Sangharaja Mawatha,
Sri Lanka.

Email: [email protected]

Tel: +94 81 2237283
Fax: +94 81 2223679

  • 1
    @Bonn Sir, If you're not altering the book and your intention is to link the contents of it to Tipitaka and make "Visuddhimagga" a more credible source of dhamma, I can call BPS on behalf of you and let you know what's their opinion about this.
    – Damith
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 10:37
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 12:12
  • @Damith could you please call them, thank you ^.^
    – Bonn
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 23:17

I converted the pdf to html some years ago using pdf2html but due to copyright issues it can't be shared publicly. When I posted it on our website, the publisher (a Buddhist monk) promptly threatened to sue. I doubt getting permission from the publisher would be easy, unless leadership has changed in the meantime.

Nyanamoli's original translation should enter the public domain soon, I think... Since it was published in Sri Lanka, you'd have to figure out what that means for using it in your country. I think the current pdf would be considered a derivative work of the original.

If you just want an html version without actual legal permission, I still have the html version I made.


There is no such as free (libre, open ... which are just advertisements to catch fools to get them in debt), a Abhidhamma-Student should be clear about, so it's just a question of "debts, but to whom" (incl. Silas or not) of whom one, best personal, asks (to get not in trouble of assumed wrongly that the other is happy, alive, has offered for certain purpose, when taking in trust).

Maybe ask Nyoms friends (Nyom often talked about), the virtuose Mahavihara-Monks if up to do a gift or service for the Sangha. As for a "public domain" version (a Sangha deprived version) you would need to ask those not fearing a pārājika or not carring of such. Or any of the many traders if you can offer a deal.

The Dhamma-trade-center BPS had made (as far as aware) already a crosslinked digital version. Maybe you have upanissāya with them.

Seeing the need:

"In four ways, young householder, should one who flatters be understood as a foe in the guise of a friend:

(i) he approves of his friend's evil deeds, (ii) he disapproves his friend's good deeds, (iii) he praises him in his presence, (iv) he speaks ill of him in his absence.

DN 31

Since without understanding thieves find their mutual support as compassionate, calling misdeeds for ones sake as act of friends.

Based on wrong view fools act for their demerits:

...He takes, in the manner of a thief, things in a village or a wilderness that belong to others and have not been given by them...

"And how is one made impure in three ways by mental action? There is the case where a certain person is covetous. He covets the belongings of others, thinking, 'O, that what belongs to others would be mine!' He bears ill will, corrupt in the resolves of his heart: 'May these beings be killed or cut apart or crushed or destroyed, or may they not exist at all!' He has wrong view, is warped in the way he sees things: 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is how one is made impure in three ways by mental action.

Cunda Kammaraputta Sutta

See also Monks on copyright material and violating the second precept, here for this case of parisa leader.

[Note: that's a dhammic advice and not thought for trade, exchangs, stackes... for wordily purposes and may be deleted if place is not given for Dhamma-Dana]

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