Submitted By envilxsb
Position Paper #1 - Share the Wealth?
I believe we all have encounter such circumstances that a friends turn to you for a copying of licensed software. Then we all have to face a same dilemma whether to copy the software, is it ethical or unethical to do so? Before we answer that question, let me ask you why would you choose to use unauthorized copies of computer software? Software is intangible and /or non-exclusive, Everyone does it, it is so easy to copy software, it doesn’t harm anyone, The low quality of software, Software is expensive, the risk of being caught is minimal and etc(Siponen, Mikko T., and Tero Vartiainen. "Unauthorized Copying of Software."). According to Act Utilitarianism all these reasons can be considered as actions to increase happiness so they could be ethical while if you use Rule Utilitarianism none of these reasons are ethical, these reasons are not compelling and we all must obey the rules that do not deceive and do not cheat. From what I’ve learnt in class I think it’s unethical to copy the licensed software to others.
The economic situation of the borrower would not make me change my mind even if the motives for copying the licensed software are poverty(lack of money) and the desire to save money(cost-benefit/efficiency). Suppose this scenario “In our family there is an unemployed computer professional who needs to maintain his professional skills, but we have no money, so the only possibility is illegal copying of computer software.”(Siponen, Mikko T., and Tero Vartiainen. "Unauthorized Copying of Software."). But according to Rule utilitarianism ‘have no money’ is not a compelling reason to break the rule, there are others ways to maintain profession skills than using the copied software.
I will stick to my position no matter what happened to the company that sold the software. Like in the case we discussed about in class the software is out of print so the company that was used to sold it have abandoned the software so it is not copyright protected also known as “Abandon ware”(Jaxom Knollman 08/29/2015) . No one would brother to find out who is to blame for copying the software so by Act Utilitarianism everyone is happier so it’s ethical to copy it. But according to Rule Utilitarianism we have to follow the rule even if no one care about the copyright and illegal duplicating. Also I want to point out that Usually software owned by big company are expensive and they have a very descent prevention method on copying software while small company won’t so their soft wares are easier to be copied.
The type of application could not altar my point of view. Some people might argue, for example, games which one can only play through once, and which cost 49-59 bulks if I can get a free copy I would definitely do that . You can not experiment with expensive software before you buy it, if you can experience the software before you actually buy it that would be great. Moreover if the software is for business use the licensing fees for multiple machines would be extremely high. “It will be unethical, inconveniencing and uncomfortable for him to keep running back and forth to use institutional computers for personal business”. (Fredrick Bubolu 08/30/2015). But think it in other way It’s probably hundreds of people’s effort and work of making that software and you just get it for free that’s would be really unfair for those programmers. Also according to act utilitarianism what you do would decrease their happiness so it could be considered unethical to copy the software no matter what type of software you are using.
If it is my friend or boss who came to me ask for the software I would say not to them because “Our words, ideas, and behavior profoundly influence our children and students to do good and not so good when using technology”(Amy S. Bruckman Software Copyright and Role Models ). If I let them copy the software who know what else they would ask me to do, we have more influence on people than we think. We should be a role models and willing to say no to unethical actions.
The ACM code of ethics clearly state that ACM member will honor property rights, including copyrights and patents. “The term that I highlighted in this passage that sums up the message in my opinion was “integrity”. (Paul Jewett 09/04/2015).I would not sacrificed my
Integrity to maintain the friendship with a friends rather than making the ethical choices.
There are also other reasons I want to point out. The copying of software could bring about the quality of software weaken, system die since people in general are not paying software, the price of software rises and the activity affects honest users.( Siponen, Mikko T., and Tero Vartiainen. "Unauthorized Copying of Software." )It is possible that the software will be very low quality if the software does not bring a lot profit for the company who make it and the future production will suffer. Grand Theft Auto 5(Brett Schnicker 09/02/2015) maintains a high quality that’s because a lot of people play the game and support the game.
Some people might argue that I need a software for purpose of earning my living and some people even make a living by copying software. I must say if you use a unlicensed software to earn money then it’s unethical to do that Because anyhow their action “robs the distributors of the software of their right”.( Benjamin Dearie 08/30/2015). So their action is against the Rule Utilitarian and no compelling reason could overrun the rule.
So it’s unethical to share the ‘wealth’ with your fellow friend. No matter how poor it is or the company no longer support the software or it’s a game or it’s for business use or you beloved boss ask for. The ACM code of ethics has state . And everyone should be a role model of copyright protector for an better experience of software.
1. Siponen, Mikko T., and Tero Vartiainen. "Unauthorized Copying of Software." SIGCAS Comput. Soc. ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society37.1 (2007): 30-43. Web.
2. 2. Bruckman, Amy S. "Software Copyright and Role Models." Software Copyright and Role Models. N.p., Aug. 2007. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.
1. Jaxom Knollman 08/29/2015
2. Fredrick Bubolu 08/30/2015
3. Paul Jewett 09/04/2015
4. Brett Schnicker 09/02/2015
5. Benjamin Dearie 08/30/2015