What features of digital technology make intellectual property a computer ethics issue?
When software is protected by copyright, patent or trade secrecy it becomes a form of intellectual property. Hardware refers to machines and machines are tangible, material objects. Software refers to set of instructions for machine components. Software can be expressed as an algorithm, source code and object code. IT systems are combinations of hardware and software. It is easy to make a duplicate copy of electronic content in comparison to the material object. Like if hardware is stolen we are aware of it but in case of software if somebody copy code we are not aware of it. So doing this computer ethics would suggest to be wrong without author’s approval. To avoid this software owner should be provided with legal right but the issue that arises is that other could not study their system and learn from it.
What is DMCA and why was it passed?
The digital millennium copyright act is a Federal law established in 1998. It criminalized the development or use of software that make it possible for people to access materials that are copyright protected like music files, DVDs, or software programs. It also makes it criminal to disseminate copyright protected materials. Digital rights management was developed to protect software and all forms of digital information that can be copyrighted like making pirated copies of materials like a word processing program or duplicates of music. DRM is used by PS developers, content provider and governments to protect the rights of producers against those who would copy. DMCA was passed to support digital rights management as computer privacy was decreasing profits for those who disseminated information on the internet or who sold software programs.
Provide a natural rights argument in favor of software ownership(i.e., the property rights of the software developer)
What software developer want is not just right to own the product they produce with their labor. They want right that give them the power to sell and make a profit from their creation. This is a claim to an economic right.
Provide a natural rights argument against software ownership(i.e., the property rights of the software developer)
In the language of natural rights, a person has a natural right to freedom of thought. Ownership of software could seriously interfere with freedom of thought. Other can’t learn from their software. So, ownership of software should not be allowed.
How does Nissenbaum define the term the strong no-copy view?
Nissenbaum urges users who copy software to refrain from unauthorized copying saying that it is always wrong to do so. She gave an example like whether or not to copy $800 software, an even professor who provides copy of his diskette to student to finish his/ her dissertation is also wrong. He said that campus should view and treat illegal copying of software as a theft or plagiarism.
Summarize her consequentiality argument.
She says that it is morally wrong to make unauthorized copy of software. Even copying software has a short term benefit for user but in long term both the developer and the user have a negative effect. Developer will not be motivated to develop more software which results in smaller population of programmer with reduction of available software. Programmer may charges high prices for the software than their actual price as to be in balance with the unauthorized copying. Most of the user cannot afford to buy software as they are not sure whether they want it or not and other one who loved the software may order its original copy to enjoy additional benefits that registered user gets. It has a dual effect like it may increase sales instead of loss in sale. If the software were reasonably priced than consumer would be tempted to buy rather than copying it.
Summarize her Kantian argument; explain how she addresses the problem of conflicting duties?
Copying software without permission is immoral as it constitutes a violation of moral rights. Programmer writes or creates software so he or she owns it. They have the right to do what they want. By making copy of software we are being unfair to the developers who invest his or her time creating that software; we should respect their hard work by not making a duplicate copy of the software.
Like in an example Millie wants to make a copy of her Quicken software for her neighbor as a help which in the eye of programmer is not legal. But she just wants to help her friend and have no intention of making multiple copies. She is just doing that in virtue of generosity within the private circle of friends and family.
Fine the utilitarian elements in Stallman’s argument.
The utilitarian principle can be defined as everyone ought to act so as to bring about the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. Stallman states in the introduction of his article that we should perform cost benefit analysis to determine who benefits from it and who are harmed. If software were to be restricted by having owner on them then it will have effect on society like whether to restrict the use of software or provide them freely. Some of the utilitarian elements in Stallman’s argument are like if software were not provided freely than it would cost more, cost more to construct, distribute and less satisfying and efficient to use due to which overall happiness decreases. Material harm from not making software free are fewer people will use the program due to which user satisfaction per hour of work is reduced, none of the users can adapt or fix the program, if they were given privilege to make changes in the program life would have been easier. Everyone can make changes according to their desire and they just don’t have to rely on the limited feature of the software that developer developed. Other developer cannot learn useful techniques from the program and see how large programs are structured. He says that prohibition on copying has the opposite effect in the computer technology. As a result it is slowing the progress rather than encouraging. With software sharing it opens opportunities for trial and experimentation. There will be effect on relationship between friends and family as if we don’t give the software thinking that it is ethically wrong to copy software going against the law, if software were to be made free than this situation would not have been arise.
Find the Kantian elements in Stallman’s arguments.
Kant’s theory says do your duty regardless of the consequences. For programmer programming is fun, their duty is to develop a program for which they get paid. Stallman states that it is programmer’s duty to encourage others to share, redistribute, and study and improve the software. If we have an owner in the software it is like restricting user’s freedom. So overall conclusion of Stallman is to make software free.