pa832c.jpg Paul Lachine

The Ethics of Internet Piracy

Last month, the US considered legislation that aimed at stopping Internet piracy. The measure went too far, and has been withdrawn, but, unless a workable solution is found, most creative people will need to earn a living doing something else, and we will all be the losers.

PRINCETON – Last year, I told a colleague that I would include Internet ethics in a course that I was teaching. She suggested that I read a recently published anthology on computer ethics – and attached the entire volume to the email.

Should I have refused to read a pirated book? Was I receiving stolen goods, as advocates of stricter laws against Internet piracy claim?

If I steal someone’s book the old-fashioned way, I have the book, and the original owner no longer does. I am better off, but she is worse off. When people use pirated books, the publisher and the author often are worse off – they lose earnings from selling the book.