ITM434 / Business Ethics and Social Issues in Computing
Is it morally wrong to copy CD’s downloaded from the web or borrowed from a friend?
The fight over music piracy and file sharing is becoming brutal and getting out of control. A large segment of the population would readily agree that pirated music is stolen music, only because that’s what they’ve read or heard in the media. Arguably, many of these so called law-abiding citizens probably don’t even own or use a computer, much less know how to create a digital copy of a song; yet they make claims and argue points daily just as lawyers do in court. In order to make your own decision about whether or not it is morally wrong to take part in illegal downloading or file sharing and to better understand music piracy, we will look at Utilitarian and Deontological considerations as well as my own personal views and beliefs about this subject. The population views downloading and file sharing as a socially acceptable practice, while the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Justice Department stand against media piracy. According to Jeremy Bentham and, later, John Stuart Mill the Utilitarianism view suggests that an action is right if it maximizes happiness for the greatest number of people over the long term. When we try to relate this view to media piracy and file sharing it is difficult to find happiness when people are being sued every day. According to George Ziemann, “the dollar value of all music product shipments decreased from $14.3 billion in 2000 to $13.7 billion in 2001” (Ziemann, 2002). He reported the RIAA lost 4.1 percent in revenue over the span of one year. Ultimately, downloading media saved consumers $600K and potentially maximized happiness for a large portion of the world’s populace. So how does this correlate with the Deontological view? The Deontological...