Ethics in the Internet Era…

Posted on Updated on

I wonder why organizations don’t consider IP/Copyright violations as an Ethical violation – and here I do not mean IP/Copyright violation of the organizational materials itself, but IP/Copyright violations of other peoples resources.

Lets take something closer to the industry we work in.  Lets talk about MP3 songs.  Many of us listen to these MP3 songs while at work and have them on our work stations – either copied from friends, downloaded from Internet or from CD’s etc. If we haven’t paid for these songs or got permission to play these songs then I personally think that this is an IP/Copyright violation and we are denying the artist who wrote that song his due by this act – just as we deny the tax man his due by forging LTA claims. Now this kind of act does not impact the organizations top line/bottom line or directly impact any governmental tax violations. However it is a violation nevertheless. Is this ethical violation any different from LTA claim violation? Why do we overlook ethical violations concerning IP so easily?

It is not just at work that such IP violations happen.. Most of the time they happen in our personal life – outside of our work environment and it is our learnings from those personal experiences that make us go soft on IP violations in work place.

At most popular places in India you will find books being sold on the pavements. You find all kinds of books on all possible subjects and the latest bestsellers selling at a fraction of the cost an original book would have cost. Do we ever wonder why they sell it so cheap? The simple reason is that they are pirated books – books that have been copied and published without publishers/authors permission. We could say that we are just buying the book and are not doing any violation ourselves, but that would mean going into 108 shades of grey.

Lets take one more example.
There are numerous video rental shops all over from where we rent CD’s/DVD’s to watch movies. I bet that almost all of them are pirated and the irony is that we all know that they are pirated. Yet we rent them and knowingly commit IP violations.

I wonder if we tend to give importance to ethics in the ‘transactional events’ that happen in our life? But not much importance to ethics in each moment in life itself? For example filling the joining form of an organization, filing tax returns, submitting travel claims, are some of the transactional events in life. but what about sitting in front of the computer every day and popping up those cool headphones and listening to pirated MP3s? What about strolling along lazily on a weekend and buying those pirated books, or renting that latest blockbuster movie – knowing that it would be a pirated copy.