Resolving the tensions between Privacy and Intellectual Property Interests
The article begins by giving background information on two related cases; the Verizon vs. RIAA case and the MGM vs. Grockster case. The appeal process in the Verizon case according to the author was ruled in favor of the privacy rights of users of P2P networks while appeal processes in MGM case was ruled in favor of property rights holders.
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According to the author the decreasing public domain in extending the extent of copyright of any copyrightable material is infringed by the Copyright Act of 1976 (Grodzinsky & Tavani 2005, 243). However, Jessica Litman offers a suggestion of possible distribution models that could help expand file-sharing. One such distribution model is the iTune which is compatible with Apple’s MP3 player, the ipod and although this may create distribution monopoly, it is aimed at curbing illegal file-sharing activities.
The other one is the On Demand Distribution (OD2) majorly popular in Europe. Lastly, Litman suggested the application of streaming media which usually applies on the internet radio. Streaming media would help resolve video as well as audio streaming problems (Litman 2003, 219-221). The author also suggests the distribution of Non-DRM information.
Helen Nissenbaum through her theory of Contextual Integrity Theory tries to explain issues surrounding individual privacy concerning P2P networks. Nissenbaum theory of privacy believes that there are aspects of information that have to shape or limit information flow as well as our roles in the information flow. She distinguishes between norms of appropriateness; and distribution.
She asserts that appropriateness of information has to be analyzed before being presented to the public. The author concludes by comparing the protection of privacy rights to that of the university system where not even the student’s parent is allowed to access the child’s information without his or her permission.
The author argues that the advancements in ICT especially the computers networks, the internet, distribution models and the web has increased file-sharing tremendously. However it has also made it almost impossible to protect new technology. He therefore feels that both the intellectual property rights and the privacy rights could be better protected if Nissebaum’s privacy approach and more distribution models could be adopted.
The author expresses his opinion by first showing that not even the courts have been able to effectively deal with controversies surrounding file-sharing. He discusses the technical as well as the theoretical options available and finally gives an ideal example of how the controversies could be resolved.
The Digital Dilemma
The Digital Dilemma is documented by Randall Davies who is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at MIT in Cambridge, MA. The Digital Dilemma is taken from the “Communications of the ACM” of February 2001; vol. 44 No. 283.
Davis is concerned about how intellectual property and the final benefits of their creation could be preserved. He recognizes that the combination of computer networks, the web as well as infrastructure-information which is in digital format has both many advantages and disadvantages.
He acknowledges that infrastructure-information presents many challenges which include pragmatics of implementing the laws to prevent individuals from easily breaking the law; as well as the need to review some of the laws that are obstacles to innovations. He recognizes that the society has to adjust to the new ways and therefore it is essential that new business models as well as new intellectual property issues are developed. These have to include economics of information, psychology as well as sociology issues.
The copyright owners and the law enforcers are not able to control reproduction by individuals due to the great access to computers, the widespread digital information as well as infrastructure. The author therefore suggests that selling rather than licensing would better help distribute information economically.
He states that although some companies have used encryption, licensing and other technologies to help them protect intellectual property rights, these have not been able to be effective and sustainable. The author explains that by reducing the prices of the products; producing high volume; and also always improving the quality of the products, it is possible to limit reproduction.
The author argues that the advancements in information technology have come with both benefits and demerits. It has improved the quality, quantity as well as access of various forms of digital information. However, he feels that the development of digital information, the web and the spread of computer networks have even made it more difficult to control copying, thus making protection of intellectual property almost impossible. He argues that private behavior has grown to supersede intellectual property holders.
According to him the problem can be solved by applying technological protection mechanisms, reviewing the laws governing copyright and by adopting innovative business models. The author argues out his case by trying to show the economic logistics behind reproduction to both the intellectual property holders and the privacy owners.
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Ethical aspects of the DeCSS decryption program
The article is written by Robert Vaagan of Oslo University College and Wallace Koehler of Valdosta State University.
According to the authors, there are several major court rulings which have been very controversial as regards to intellectual property rights and public access rights.
The young Norwegian hacker who was found guilty of Content Scrambling of the protection on the DVDs and was sentenced in 2000 was later acquitted of the charges in 2003 by both the Oslo Municipal Court and the Borgarting appellate court citing no wrong doing. On the other hand, Dmittry Skyarov, a Russian was charged in the US for developing a program that could crack Adobe’s eBook Reader; his employer, ElcomSoft was also charged; however, they were found not guilty by the court.
The authors are of the view that no one is in a position to distinguish the extent of intellectual property rights and privacy rights. It is even more difficult to protect intellectual property rights as each country has its own laws governing information ethics. Companies therefore ensure protection of their intellectual property rights through the use of anti-copying measures like copy bars which some people view that as unethical. The authors agree that piracy is a big threat to innovations.
The authors therefore suggest that it is important to produce cheap version of the products which could be sold to poor countries to reduce piracy as Microsoft plans to do for XP Windows to be sold in Thailand, Malaysia as well as Indonesia (Petreley 2003).
The authors are concerned that the advancements in ICT has made it possible for consumers to develop software for cracking the copy bar codes and even to spread the knowledge to other consumers.
This has made very difficult to protect intellectual property and also discourages new innovations as the courts are also not able to identify the limit of intellectual property owners and public access rights. The authors present their opinion by discussing related cases that have encouraged cracking and hacking and uses them to show the damages these have innovations.
Grodzinsky, F., S., & Tavani, H., T., 2005, P2P networks and the Verizon v. RIAA case: Implications for personal privacy and intellectual property. Ethics and Information Technology, 7 (4): 243-250. New York: Springer.
Litman, J., 2003, Ethical Disobedience: Ethics and Information Technology, 5 (4): 217-223. New York: Springer.
Petreley, N., 2003, Debunking the Linux-Windows market-share myth. Linux World. Web.