Intellectual Property Right and Ethics

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Intellectual property rights are the legal rights which creators are entitled to. Creators are the people who produced intellectual property which are creative works that they have originally made. With these rights, creators can choose what can legally be done to the work and other rules that need to be followed. There are a variety of original works that can have property rights. Some of these include: written work, drawings, graphics, and many more. Having rights is very important because respect should be given to someone who has original thoughts and can put those thoughts into creative work. There is a company called WIPO which are a self-funding agency that has copyrights, patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and also geographical indications used in e-commerce. This system is around because they recognize that creative works need to be protected by law and that they are around to support a creative environment. This company even has a magazine which displays the work that they have protected and boosts the work of creators worldwide. They also run workshops and have different forms of training to help innovators improve their skills and become familiar with new developments. The ability to have an agency support you and your work is a great step in the world of creativity, and keeping those intellectual property rights is what will continue to help creators flourish.

Copyrights are there to protect individuals’ work, such as literature, art and music. Enacted in 1976, Copyrights give the original creator rights over what they created. Even if you die, you still retain rights 70 years after your death. So let’s say you buy a CD from Zomboy, that does not give you the right to do whatever you want with his music. Even though it is now your property, the artist still holds rights over the songs. Often times with trying to prevent piracy, many things will have digital watermarks, a slight change to content that most cannot see but identifies copyright holder.

Trademark Symbols
Trademarks are words, phrases, symbols, designs, or a combination of these that are used as an identifier in order to help consumers identify and distinguish one product/service from another one which might be similar. This is also referred to as they’re “logo”. Trademarks are usually registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPO)and use the letter R enveloped in a circle next to the logo to signify this. Trademarks which are claimed but unregistered are allowed to use the print tm alongside they’re logo to represent that a claim has been made so as to deter others from using it. The purpose of a trademark is to protect the logo from being used by competitors who may want to “knock off” a more reputable company, though trademarks also protect domain names as well. Many companies want to set up a website using a domain name which matches their product so a consumer can instinctively find they’re web address, and a trademark will often safeguard against another company using it.

Patents are similar to Copyrights and Trademarks but protect a person’s invention rather than their literary accomplishments or company logos. Patents are usually granted for a 20 year period and legally authorize the sole rights of an individual to manufacture or produce that which s/he invented. Often it is a unique product but it can also be a unique process such as the Born-Haber Cycle.

The general definition of the word “ethics” defines the elements important to humans’ morals. Ethics could be referred to as specific values, standards, rules, and agreements. For example, not being involved in software piracy is a matter of ethics. Computer ethics is a set of morals that regulate the use of computers. It is important for computer users to be aware of the ethical use of copyrighted material, the ethical use of resources and information, and ethical use of school, company, and employee information. Common issues of computer ethics are the following: privacy concerns, how computer affects society, and intellectual property rights. It is a very common and easy practice to burn a CD or movie for a friend. However, another option would be to tell the friend to buy the CD or movie as an ethical alternative. The privacy of another person is also an ethical issue of today. People’s information is easily accessible through the computer; the ethical solution would be to not access another person’s private information unless given permission. Ethics certainly guide our behavior, and it is the source of the acts we will and will not part take in.

One ethical issue introduced by the increased prevalence of new technology is the rise in cheating among students using technology. As students have more technology, they naturally have more ways to cheat—ways that adult teachers who don’t use all the new technology might not be aware of. 35% of students in one study admitted to cheating by using a phone. This can be done by storing notes on a phone and looking at it in class, texting someone outside of the class for an answer, and so on. A shockingly large number of teenagers seem to not even ‘realize’ that this is cheating; around or over 20% didn’t think that it was. They’re so used to having their cell phones attached to themselves as a part of their body that they don’t realize that it actually isn’t something they’re supposed to be using at all times, and they saw no difference between screaming an answer across a class room and covertly texting it to a friend. Young people need to be aware that cheating is cheating even with technology so they don’t get in trouble for academic dishonesty, and faculty need to be aware of how students might be cheating using their phones, iPads, etc. to prevent it in the classroom.

History of Computer Ethics
Computer ethics is a concept that is growing larger every day with new advanced technology. Computer ethics first came about in the 1970’s as computers were becoming integrated into homes. Computers today are used at home, in schools, and in powerful companies. This field has taken ethics to a whole new level, especially due to privacy issues found throughout various businesses. This form of ethics is also now offered to study at many universities around the world. Computer ethics includes the various philosophical aspects of ethics, as well as psychological and sociological interpretations. When the field was first discovered in the 1970’s, applied ethics was used to describe the new concept. Applied ethics consisted of a combination of utilitarianism, as well as Kant ethics. At the time there was much controversy to what computers would bring to society. Some thought that computers would create more ethical issues, whereas others thought it put a so-called “twist” on old ethics. In the 1980’s the computer was thought to be the closest object to a universal tool available to individuals. In essence, the integration of the computer into every day society was not easy. The generation of the computer was new, as well as exciting. But nobody had used it before, including businesses and individuals. There would have to be some form of ethical guidelines to using these new products that nobody had much experience with. Nowadays, computer ethics covers a wide variety of topics such as: computers in the workplace, computer crime, professional responsibility, and privacy and anonymity.

Ethical Use of Music
The sharing of music over the internet has continuously been a problem over the past few years and it is still a major problem today. The music controversy began with Napster, a peer-to-peer file sharing web application that was created to allow users to share music files via the internet. Napster originally started as a small web application for a few friends to share music on, but as the application grew in users, it began to strike the attention of the music industry. Some artists, specifically Metallica and Dr. Dre who filed a law suit against Napster, were outraged at the web application and in 2001, Napster finally closed due to the losing of a lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America. Napster and other peer-to-peer sharing websites that still exist today, such as The Pirate Bay, Mediafire, and Megaupload, are a large controversy because the copying of songs for non-commercial use is legal under the fair use concept, however, downloading files from a peer-to-peer website without compensating the artist is a violation of copyright law under Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

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To combat the infringement of copyright law due to illegal file sharing, the music industry began placing Digital Rights Management (DRM) control on downloaded files so that they couldn’t be shared. However, this also stopped users from being able to transfer the files to other personal devices. Today, many music downloading services, such as Apple’s iTunes, have switched to MP3 or MP4 formats to allow users to view files on multiple personal devices.

Film Piracy


The illegal copying and distribution of movies and TV shows is called film piracy. The rate of which people commit film piracy has been growing exponentially since 2004. This is most likely due to the fact that online peer-to-peer file sharing has become a lot easier. According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), film piracy causes an estimated loss of $18 billion dollars per year worldwide. This statistic is estimated because the MPAA has to determine how many people would have actually watched the film if it weren’t for free, or at a discounted price. Ever since 2004, authorities have been pushing to reduce film piracy. In 2005 the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act was put into place. This act makes recording a movie in a theatre illegal in the United States. Besides laws, there have also been things like visual FBI Anti-Piracy Warning Seal’s added to DVD’s. This seal is shown when the DVD is played, and before the actual movie starts. However, this doesn’t always effectively stop a pirate from stealing the movie. There are many software programs used by authorities and private companies to prevent the illegal trade of pirated movies. This software is able to monitor websites that host peer-to-peer file trading. If a company’s film is being misused over the internet, the software is capable of sending infringement notices and collecting important data. All of this information could be used to build a court case against the violator.

Computer Hoaxes and Digital Manipulation
A computer hoax, or virus hoax, is an inaccurate statement or story spread through computers, typically through am email. Usually the email warns the user about a virus or worm and instructs the user to forward the message (which spreads the virus) or recommends that the receivers download an infected file attachment. These virus hoaxes can often be distinguished by their lofty and enticing wording or by claims that sound formal and authorized. These types of emails use people’s fear of the internet to manipulate their actions and thus spread a virus or computer hoax; many consider these fake emails to be worms in and of themselves because of this.

Digital Manipulation is editing or altering any type of digital content. The most commonly thought of is photo-shop, which is editing an image so that it has little to no resemblance of the original image. This can be anything from adjusting the “exposure” or a photo or using an airbrush tool, to combing two photos to make one or adding portions that were not in the original (such as a large moon covering half the sky behind the Chicago skyline). But digital manipulation also includes altering text, music, movies, or voice interviews. The main issue when it comes to ethics in digital manipulation is that copyrights cannot be violated and the original digital information cannot be misused or misinterpreted. Also, intentions and purpose are key in deciding “how far is to far” when it comes to photo-shop or other editing methods.

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The text for this course is available from WikiBooks under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

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