Living in a society full of high technologies like today, it is extremely hard to avoid problems of copyright violation. Imagine we are using Facebook, checking our friends’ newest updates online. Suddenly, we find an extremely hilarious video in a friend’s “News Feed”. Because the clip is just way too funny, we decide to share it on our own Facebook “Home Page”. By simply clicking on “share”, we easily post that link through Youtube on Facebook.
As more and more online websites have been created, such as Facebook and Youtube, people nowadays can prevalently and easily share various information, such as video clips, music and computer software, on-line. At the same time, thanks to the high-speed Internet, the whole procedures are not only fast but also free of charge. However, as we click the “share” button, how many of us would really consider the issue of copyrights, or the problem of violating copyrights? From another perspective, if the information is something worthy and needed to be brought to public attention, how do we efficiently protect original authors’ copyrights at the same time? When we are sharing information on-line, for example, when we are sharing music on Facebook, can this be categorized as fair use? Most of the time, we are not doing so on educational purposes, we are not sure how it will affect the market for the copyright works, and more importantly, Facebook cannot be counted as a private place. Is there a standardized way to determine fair use? If not, how can we maintain a good balance between fair use and digital rights management?
When it comes to the issue of the intellectual property protection of software, the situation becomes even more ambiguous. According to what our textbook suggested, neither right-based analysis nor utilitarian analysis (one based on natural right argument, the other based on consequences) have strong arguments. Do these approaches indicate that granting the intellectual property protection of software is unnecessary? Is digital rights management performed by the government reasonable and ethical?
By attaching laws to grant the intellectual property protection of software, digital rights management has been reinforced. Once people violate a licensing agreement, they violate the law. Based on Kantianism and rule utilitarianism, breaking the law is ethically wrong. Since both theories have their own drawbacks and the previous arguments from the two analyses are not strong, are laws granting the intellectual property protection of software meaningful?