My Wife and I got into a debate over copyright infringement and the difference between the copying of intellectual property being illegal and/or unethical. I thought this might be a good topic to get everyone’s opinion on, since on most message boards there is no shortage of opinions. Let the games begin……
Scenario #1 –
Two guys decide to go in 50/50 on a wakeboarding instructional DVD. They will split the cost, thus both being co-owners of the DVD. This is perfectly legal. Now, let’s say they burn a copy of said DVD so they each can have a copy. Technically, this is illegal since they are re-producing the material without the consent of the creator. However, if they do not sell or give any copies to anyone else are they really doing anything wrong (ethically) since they are both co-owners of the original copy?
Scenario #2 –
A guy buys an instructional wakeboarding DVD. He does not re-produce copies of it, but he does let his friends borrow the DVD as long as they want. Technically this is perfectly legal. However, the end result is that the creators of the DVD are losing out on the sales/royalties for each person who used the DVD without paying for it.
Scenario #3 –
A guy buys an instructional wakeboarding DVD. After gaining all that he can from it he no longer needs it and decides to sell it. Technically, this is perfectly legal. However, the end result is that the creators once again lose out on sales/royalties, as they are receiving nothing for the re-sale of the DVD.
All three scenarios have the same end result. The creator of the DVD is missing out on sales/royalties from those who used the DVD without paying the creator full price for themselves. As far as I know only scenario number one is illegal, yet to me it seems the most ethical since both parties are paying something to the creator for the DVD.
My wife is totally against me and a friend of mine doing scenario number one. I am torn on the issue because I see it from both sides. For me personally, I am more concerned with what is ethical than I am concerned with what is legal. For example I do not see why smoking pot is illegal while drinking alcohol is legal. Just because something is against the law doesn’t always mean that it is unethical.
Perhaps all three scenarios are unethical. However, I struggle to see the difference between these scenarios and someone who buys a book at half-price bookstores. The author of the book is missing out on royalties from the re-sale of their book, yet this is perfectly legal? Perhaps I am dating myself here, but back in the 80’s was it illegal to make a cassette copy of an album so you could listen to it in your car?
So what do you all think? I’m sure this thread will go south very quickly…….