Courtesy. Kindness. Respect. Copyright Infringement.
What happened to the simple act of asking for something that does not belong to you before you take? Courtesy, kindness, and respect no longer seem to exist. Instead, copyright infringement or theft seem to be the order of the day. Many young people claim they take from the Internet without permission because they don’t know they are supposed to ask – they claim ignorance! Yet, my silly and obviously antiquated belief is that if something is not yours, you should always ask for permission to use or take it. But so many ignore that concept, or perhaps they never learned it because their role models didn’t. Instead, they seem to believe that you do what you want, hurt whomever you want, create as much havoc as you want and if caught, ask for forgiveness later. What an entitled way to think!
Today’s copyright infringers are definitely from this school of thought. Knowingly or not, they help themselves to the IP (intellectual property) of others without asking permission or compensating the IP owner. If it’s on the Internet, it must be free for everyone to use…right?
Wrong! You no more have a right to take and use IP on the Internet without permission than you do to take and use someone’s car without permission. The criminal penalties for using the car may be far greater, but the moral principle is the same. Sure, a person can get away with using other people’s property on the Internet easier that taking material objects. The Internet’s vastness makes it seem easy. There are millions of websites, Facebook and Twitter accounts out there, this person will never know I am using their IP without permission.
Whether we are speaking in moral or legal terms, the principle is the same. You don’t take other people’s things without asking permission! How much effort does it take to ask? But when these people are slapped with a copyright or trademark lawsuit or a cease and desist letter, they are surprised and often claim victimhood for themselves.
Yes, the Internet is a wonderful thing, but it’s not a bastion of anarchy where the moral and legal rules of society suddenly don’t apply. Just as there is an expectation that we respect other people’s material property, we must also respect the intellectual property of others.
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