The ethical aspect of technological development is one of the primary challenges of the present-day world. It implies the emergence of conflicts between digital technologies such as the Internet promoting freedom of expression and intellectual property rights that can be violated as a consequence of the rapid spread of the former. This situation is quite complicated, and its consideration should include various types of intellectual products and the ways their owners’ rights are violated. Hence, the primary persons affected by unauthorized access to online information are different cultural and business entities.
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One of the methods of self-expression is the creation of musical works. Their popularity defines the central place of the industry in the conflict. The unethical use of music derives from the lack of respect for the artist who created the product. The violation of musicians’ rights is explained by the neglect of the investment they made in creating their works (Herlihy & Zhang, 2016). From this perspective, downloading songs for free can be considered morally wrong behavior, complicating the conflict between the owners of copyright and target users. The same applies to movies, TV shows, and other cultural products since free access are against ethical principles.
Another field that adds to the conflict between freedom of expression and intellectual property rights is business. Its importance is defined by the profits a company can lose in the case of unlimited access to its information. In this situation, the breach of ethics relates to the use of trademarked, copyrighted, and patented goods created by enterprises (Uzialko, 2019). When it comes to companies’ losses, the consequences of such actions for them can be more severe than for individuals. The use of their content may not only cost thousands of dollars but also lead to criminal charges or even jail time (Uzialko, 2019). Therefore, the neglect of the ethical aspect of free access to companies’ essential information is more serious about the conflict.
Moreover, the misuse of businesses’ intellectual property brings additional complexity due to the existence of a variety of indirect ways to violate such principles. In the case of the music or movie industry, the owners of copyright can lose the money and waste resources invested in creating their works, whereas the losses of companies are more significant (Uzialko, 2019). They might also cause damage to business reputation that, in turn, will result in bigger losses in the future (Uzialko, 2019). Therefore, the free use of a company’s trademarks or patents is directly connected to the ethical conflict of freedom of expression and intellectual property.
Nevertheless, this situation applies not only to companies and creators of cultural products but also to individuals. For example, my privacy and personal intellectual property can be affected in various ways by the use of the information I provide on social media. Thus, the access to it by officials or potential employers can create an image of me as a person who they might judge not by his deeds but the impression he makes online.
To sum up, the problem of finding the balance between ethics and free access to extensive information online is a challenge for present-day companies and entrepreneurs. Any data published online for business can be misused by others. Such actions might lead to significant losses and the punishment of perpetrators. However, individuals can also suffer from the breach of ethics when one can use social media information to form an opinion about a person.
Herlihy, D., & Zhang, Y. (2016). Music industry and copyright protection in the United States and China. Global Media and China, 1(4), 390-400.
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Uzialko, A. (2019). Copyright infringement: Are you stealing intellectual property? Business News Daily.