Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...

Subject: Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...
From: Steven Rice (
Date: Sun Nov 13 2005 - 14:36:09 EST


I think your statement comparing comparing cracked software to
plagarism is somewhat flawed. Theft is taking something owned by
someone else. Plagarism is taking someone's work and calling it your
own. Both involve taking something from someone, but there is an
element of lying in plagarism, which seems to be more important to
what it is. For example, if I gave permission for someone to use my
idea in their paper, for example even if I wrote a paper for a
student, their submitting the paper I wrote is still plagarism, even
though they didn't steal from me. Using cracked software isn't the
same in this way, whether you use MAX with permission or without
permission, people don't assume that you wrote MAX- either way it's
understood that your work rests on this other work of someone else.

But, if the end result is that you want to have a rationale for
abolishing the use of cracked software academically, it seems that the
issue of permissions could come into play. If I want to write a thesis
on a diffusion score for one of your pieces, I would need your
permission to reprint it (or your publisher's- whoever owns it),
otherwise I could talk about the score, but I couldn't use any of it.
Similarly, one could say that if it's necessary to use MAX/MSP for
this thesis, one needs permission to use MAX, and if you don't get it,
the student needs to go back and strip it out of the thesis for it to
be accepted and published by the university, or to be performed in a
public venue.

It would be trickier to say the same of pieces you write in lessons or
in class, because sometimes they aren't going to see the light of day.
But you could always have some sort of ethics agreement to take your
class that people need to sign that says whatever you want it to about
cracked software. I don't know if the uni. would have legal
entanglements because of that.

The last thing- often University ethics statements don't just say that
plagarism can get you kicked out, but also theft. If it comes to light
that someone stole something, couldn't you treat the cracked software
the same way you would if a student was playing with a stolen
saxophone, or something?


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