The Issue of Software Copyright Infringement

When it comes to the word “ethics,” people often think of morals or principles. Ethical theory, in general, is defined as “Relativism”; Relativism is the belief that there are no universal moral norms of right and wrong. Computers are a piece of technology that scientists have been using and advancing for the last several decades. The concept of computer ethics started from the 1940s by Norbert Wiener; during World War 2, Wiener was tasked with assisting in the development of an anti-aircraft cannon that would be able to shoot down fast warplanes.

During Wiener’s work, he and his colleagues had created a branch of science, which Wiener dubbed “cybernetics”.

Cybernetics – the science of information feedback systems, when combined with the computer technology that was available at the time caused Wiener to develop the principles behind computer ethics. In his book, Cybernetics: or control and communications in the animal and the machine, Wiener said: “Long before Nagasaki and the public awareness of the atomic bomb, it had occurred to me that we were here in the presence of another social potentiality of unheard-of importance for good and for evil.

In 1950 Wiener published his computer ethics book, The Human Use of Human Beings. Though he did not use the term “computer ethics” to describe his research, he made it clear that from his perspective the integration of computer technology will be the catalyst for the remaking of society and lead to a second revolution.

In Moor, J. H.’s (1985) book he views computer ethics as “The analysis of the nature and social impact of computer technology and the corresponding formulation and justification of policies for the ethical use of such technology.

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He then explains that the most common problem in computer ethics is due to the policy regarding how computers should be used.Computers have been able to introduce new capabilities to society and with these capabilities new choices.

In addition when these new capabilities become available often there are no policies to keep people from abusing them. In Cox, A.’s(2002) report he talked about how the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) had its own code of ethics involving computer technology. The guidelines to this are pretty straightforward “Contribute to society and human well-being, acquire and maintain professional competence, and manage personnel and resources to design and build information systems that enhance the quality, effectiveness, and dignity of working life.” These ethical codes for the ACM serve as a moral compass on what the employees should strive to do, but not what they should not do. There should be policies like this put in place for what people should not be doing. Limits have to be put in place because “what was technically impossible yesterday becomes feasible today, and may well be common practice tomorrow.” Langford, D., & Wusteman, J.’s (1994).

In today’s society, there continues to be an issue with software copyrights. By law there are a lot of distinctive issues that arise when it comes to software. Software copyrights are put in place by software companies to makes sure people do not get unauthorized copies of their software. In terms of software copyrights, one can not make copies of the software program, reproduce copies for your computer of the local network, or download the internet copy program without the permission of the copyright holder. Although these rules are put in place they are often difficult to enforce.

Pirate Bay was founded in 2003 to provide, a means for distributing all kinds of pirated software (that is, software that was copied by illegal means). People that choose to use Piratebay to download illegally copied software are violating the policies put in place by the software owner despite the availability of the site. In my personal experience, I have also downloaded pirated software on several occasions of all kinds and have used the software. Now that I am more knowledgeable about this subject I am aware of how my actions impact owners of software in terms of illegally using and distributing their software without compensating them.

The pervasiveness of the Internet and availability of information, has created new ethical problems in the 21st century. Because of how easy it is to find personal information about people on the Internet, the concept of privacy has evolved and it is another aspect of computer ethics. “Concerns about privacy are increasingly about the improper access, use, and manipulation of personal information by the government and many others who have access to computerized records.

The original concept of privacy in the United States has become informationally enriched in the computer age.” Moor, J. H.’s (1998) People have an expectation of privacy when on the Internet, but depending on what they mean, the reality is much different. There are people who are constantly abusing their knowledge and skills to steal information from other people on the Internet. These kinds of people are called hackers, and they use different techniques to access people’s computers and accounts.Hackers are able to invade your life using social engineering and email phishing, can install malicious software and can watch you using your computer webcam. These are serious invasions of privacy and law enforcement often have a hard time finding the culprits.

The three core ideas explored in this paper with respect to computer ethics are as follows: how computers affect society, privacy concerns introduced by computing, and software copyright infringement. Computer ethics policies and the discussion surrounding it have been ongoing, but is outpaced by the abuse that is occurring on a daily basis. With new computer technology come new opportunities to abuse it.

Moreover, there are computer ethics policies in place in various aspects of society, but there is a lack of enforcement of those policies to make a significant difference. There are many levels of relativity in value judgments and our values are most of the time tied to what benefits us. People who continue to abuse computer technology for their own gain are the ones who make it difficult for people to use the Internet safely. The people who abuse the Internet and computer technology would benefit from a discussion about the social and ethical impact of their actions and what they should do about it. Fortunately, computer ethics may help us to start that exact conversation.

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The Issue of Software Copyright Infringement. (2022, Dec 13). Retrieved from

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