An Algorithmic and Social Introduction to Computer Science (CSC-105 2000S)

Class 45: Software Piracy

Back to Planning for the Rest of the Semester. On to Privacy.

Held Monday, April 24, 2000


Today we consider issues of software piracy.

Question 45 for discussion today: When, if ever, is software piracy appropriate?

Question 46 for discussion Tuesday: Where do you stand on the continuum from total privacy to total efficiency? Do you think that either privacy or efficiency is more important, or that a balance can be achieved between the two? How do computers affect the balance between individual rights and organizational responsibilities? Are privacy and protection issues complementary or at odds?




Tentative Schedule

Date Presenter Reading/Subject
Monday, April 24 Kevin Software Piracy: Forester and Morrison Chapter 3
Tuesday, April 25 Cathy The Invasion of Privacy: Forester and Morrison Chapter 6
Wednesday, April 26 Sam Questions to stimulate discussion: Forester and Morrison Appendix
Friday, April 28 Jae Analog Computation: Dewdney 33
Monday, May 1 Jeana Storing Images: Dewdney 47
Tuesday, May 2 Adan Disk Operating Systems: Dewdney 53
Wednesday, May 3 Liz Operating Systems: To Be Determined
Friday, May 5 Ivy Computerizing the Workplace: Forester and Morrison 8
Monday, May 8 Jeff Birthdays; Random Numbers
Tuesday, May 9 Joel Core Wars: Reading to be determined

Kevin's Notes

Today's class will be two-fold: Kevin will begin with an introduction to the law behind software theft, and then hold a class discussion about some of the questions below.

It would be nice if someone would volunteer to record the discussion, but it's not really necessary.

Legal Background for Software Piracy

See for the Software Publishers Association's page on software piracy and for a more in-depth discussion.

See for Kevin's primary source, the Software Publishers Association page on the US Code. The SPA does have the right to initiate proceedings.

Copying of software for any reasons other than back-up is an infringement of the software creator's exclusive right to distribute and copy the program.

Illegally copying software on an individual, sharing-with-a-friend basis can result in the author of the software getting damages and any profits back from the infringer, or statutory damages of between $500 and $20,000. The individual accused may also be put in jail for up to 3 years if he/she is a first-time offender.

``Software Piracy,'' or illegally copying software for personal financial gain or commercial advantage, can result in fines of up to $250,000 or a five year stint in the ``big house,'' but only if the software is copied at least ten times and is worth at least $2500.

Discussion of Implications of Software Theft/Copying

Is copying software morally acceptable even though it's not legally acceptable?

Can we protect against the copying of software, or will the criminals always be ahead of the technology?

Should we make the software copyright laws stronger, and if so, how would we do that?

Because of the ease of copying of software, should we just forget trying to curtail it and just make all software open-source? (The Richard Stallman Technique)

Does software piracy really stifle the creativity of the software market, as Forester and Morrison claim, or is that just blowing the problem out of proportion?

Is copying of programs actually helpful insofar as this copying permits more budding programmers the opportunity to get ideas on how these programs could be improved?

I don't really expect to get to those questions, but I think it's important that they are at least there for the members of the class to consider on their own.


Saturday, 22 January 2000

Monday, 26 April 2000

Back to Planning for the Rest of the Semester. On to Privacy.

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