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

Subject: Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...
From: Michael Gogins (
Date: Sun Nov 13 2005 - 17:20:37 EST

I would tend to agree that copying for creative purposes should be
allowed -- up to the point where an impartial critic (assuming one can be
found) would say that the new piece is a "version" of the borrowed piece --
but no further.

As for legality, if you think it is sometimes ethical to break laws, you are
wrong. For example, if conscientious objectors or those engaged in civil
disobedience break the law, they are prepared to accept the legal
consequences as a way of making a point. They are not trying to break the
law, but to mend broken laws. This can only be done by assuming the
essential morality of the legal system as a whole, as an agreement between
all or most of the members of society on what is and what is now allowable.

Picking and choosing laws to obey demonstrates contempt for others in the

There are exceptions to this, obviously, I do not mean to play with logic or push my argument to the point of absurdity. I would agree that the Underground Railroad was moral, though illegal.
But freeing slaves is not the same thing as freeing somebody else's
property. A human being is not a thing. But a file is a thing.

You could go on to argue whether a file is property, or whether intellectual property really exists -- and you would find most of society disagrees.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Owen Green" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, November 13, 2005 3:37 PM
Subject: Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...

> The post you first replied to said that I was ambivalent; there are cases
> where it is clearly unethical and cases where this is not so (legality
> doesn't really do it for me as a reason not to do something, so excuse me
> if I stick with ethics).
> An example of something that I tolerate, and quite possibly approve of,
> would be the sharing of music files for items that record companies have
> deleted - who loses out? Similarly unauthorised copying for creative
> purposes, which always begs the question of where the line is drawn; if
> drawing a line makes it harder for music to stay in circulation or
> stunting creative practice then I'd be for not drawing one at all.
> Michael Gogins wrote:
>> My point is that there are moral and legal ways of questioning the
>> legitimacy of institutions, and immoral and illegal ways of doing so.
>> My impression is that you approved or tolerated copying digital files
>> without permission of copyright owners, which would be both immoral
>> and illegal.
>> Please correct me if I am wrong about you and copying files without
>> permission.

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