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COMP 607: Reflections on week 5

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By nmas in the group COMP 607: Fall 2015 cohort October 18, 2015 - 10:09am

The pyramid discussions and scenarios this week made me ponder about the relationship between morality, ethics and legality. While my mind defaulted to the concept where if something is illegal, it must be unethical, it clearly is not the case. I am afraid I will just be repeating myself if I continue discussing this here, but my thoughts have already been articulated in the Pyramid Discussion Whole Cohort blog post.

The scenarios also prompted me to investigate copyright laws in other nations. Even though I paid  particular interest to the US DMCA and comparing it to the Canadian Copyright Modernization Act and Bill C-51, I noticed that several European nations had laws that were far more lax than ours. For example, in the Netherlands, restrictions on making copies for home use are less restrictive.

Ultimately I feel that if there was no personal monetary gain being made, no negative impact on the business or person issuing the license for use, and if the intent is benign, while the legality of the act maybe in question, it is a victimless "crime" and should not be prosecuted.

I am curious how copyright alternatives such as Creative Commons licensing can be utilized by businesses to promote their brand and product without having a negative impact on the bottom line.

Google's book scanning initative was in the news this week where a US appeals court ruled that their actions do not violate copyright law. Google's plan is to scan books and make them available to all in an online library. Google argued that making these books available would actually increase sales for the publishers by introducing authors to readers. I was a little surprised to see this argument used so effectively when music piracy advocates have used the same argument and have recieved little sympathy from the justice system, evident by the relentless efforts to shut down sites such as Pirate Bay and the demise of Napster.

With regards to how I would feel if my own IP without my permission, I would definitely feel a little violated, particularly if someone else was profitting off the back of my work. However, if there was an attempt to obtain permission was made and the request was towards the development of something that would be beneficial to society or the tech community at large, I am sure I could be tempted to grant permission for free use.