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

Subject: Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...
From: Owen Grant (
Date: Sun Nov 13 2005 - 19:57:03 EST

I am aware of my idealistic viewpoint, and I stand by my view that musicians
attending university should, ideally, have an instrument bought for them.

Although, in the real world I wouldn’t expect a free instrument to take home
-- it would simply cost too much. On the other hand, with the ability to
reproduce software so cheaply, is it morally right for software developers
to continually charge extortionate amounts of money in relation to the cost
to make a product -- especially if the user is in academia and not making a
financial gain. The big software companies’ profit-to-expense ratio must be

On Sun, 13 Nov 2005 Kenneth Newby wrote:

>On 13-Nov-05, at 3:36 PM, Owen Grant wrote:
>>Kenneth wrote:
>>>This gets more and more interesting. When, as a child, my parents wanted
>>>us kids to have a direct musical experience they invested in a piano.
>>>They didn't expect the music school to provide an instrument for free.
>>>It was simply too expensive. When I decided to learn any musical
>>>instrument I either bought outright, or, if on a tight budget, found a
>>>store with one of those lease-to-own programs.
>>I think this is applicable in a private situation -- I wouldn’t expect a
>>free instrument either if it were my hobby. Although, in an academic
>>environment the situation is slightly different: one moves away from an
>>ideologically capitalist environment of individualism -- where motivation
>>is provided largely through greed, and the love of money -- and into an
>>environment that instead thrives through the sharing of ideas,
>>collaboration, and a shared end product.
>I'm not aware of any university-based or professional music programs that
>provide instruments for their students beyond those that sit in commonly
>accessible practice rooms. I never got to take anything home... which is
>where I developed my individuality and individuation to an acceptable level
>to be able to function and contribute to my culture. There's just not
>enough time to do that in the hallowed halls. The same situation applies
>to digital music instruments and tools.... unless of course we want to
>accept another increase in already spiraling tuition costs. In our school
>we considered requiring students to purchase their own laptops and a basic
>suite of software.... no unlike the requirement that an instrumental music
>student is expected to have their own instrument while engaging in their
>studies. The idea was quashed for many obvious reasons. We do provide
>labs with enough seats and software to support all the students in our
>program... but they still want to work at home, on their own time, and I
>don't blame them. But the societal shift towards public institutions
>paying their own way means that tuition fees are dramatically higher,
>grants to students non-existent, and therefore the thought of investing yet
>more in one's education is not easy to justify.
>The idea that universities are devoted to an idealistic culture of free
>sharing of ideas, collaboration and shared end product is another one I've
>not had personal experience with. Industry-university liaison offices
>abound and pressure is intense to find ways to capitalize on one's research
>outcomes. Pure research is made difficult or simply abandoned under
>pressure from industry partners in favor of so-called applied research.
>I'm all in favor of a culture of academic freedom and free scholarly
>exchange... in fact I think it's one of the most important features of
>modernity that we'd like to preserve. It just seems to be a vanishing part
>of our current culture driven by management science and the cult of
>efficiency. I'm increasingly skeptical of the utopian aspects of this
>The problems we're discussing are, I believe, a direct consequence of this
>shift in the role of the university (and so many other public institutions)
>in contemporary culture. I wonder if this isn't what would lead so many
>people to discard their ethics and simply dive into the culture of
>intensive individuality, greed, profit, etc. you describe? I don't think
>it's simply because it's easy that people take what is not theirs with so
>little regard for the investment that's been made by the producers. Rather
>one is taught to develop a certain thickness of the skin in the face of the
>meanness of the "new economy".

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