Study Guide

    Internet Downloads or "Warez"

      The Internet has made it all too easy to steal, market, and distribute copyrighted material.  Pirated software on the Internet can be shared via bulletin boards, e-mail, news groups, web sites, peer-to-peer networks, and on  Internet auction sites where it is misrepresented as legal software.  The term "warez" is generally used to describe commercial software that has been pirated and made available to the public via  the Internet or an electronic bulletin board.  Crackers break the software's copy protection and then share illegal copies of the software.  Then they distribute it around the world via the Internet. 
    • What are Warez?

    Ethical Issues of Software Piracy 

      The use of unlicensed software is illegal, plain and simple.  Downloading commercial software is unethical, as it is the virtual equivalent of stealing.  Piracy is the theft of intellectual property and is no more acceptable than shoplifting.  Software pirates attempt to make several arguments justifying their actions.  Such arguments are software is too expensive and pirates are just testing it and will buy it if they like it. 
    • Are any of these arguments ethically valid?
    • Does information "Want to be free
    • What ethical standards should govern the downloading of commercial software from the Internet?
    • What is the consumer's role in preventing software piracy?

    The David LaMacchia Case 

      One of the more famous cases of alleged Internet piracy was the case of David LaMacchia.  David LaMacchia was an MIT student who was accused of operating a Bulletin Board Service (BBS) on MIT's computer network from which commercial software could be downloaded.  He was indicted by the federal government for conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  Eventually, the case was dismissed because the judge determined that there had be no wire fraud.  The government has since established the No Electronic Theft (NET) Act to accommodate such cases in the future.  The No Electronic Theft Act closed a loophole under the old law that allowed people to distribute commercial software over the Internet without facing prosecution.  This loophole was closed by making it a crime to distribute copied software over the Internet regardless of even if the offender did not profit from his actions. 
    • Did David LaMacchia do anything wrong?
    • Is the No Electronic Theft (NET) Act fair? 

Internet Downloads Index