The Generational Divide in Copyright Morality
David Pogue of the New York Times writes about Copyright Morality, the other side of the coin in the fair use debate. The issue is posed as a generational one. It is only a generational gap though because the separation between those firmly embedded in the Internet world and those who are not is divided by time or age rather than geography.
We are speaking of two different worlds and there is no means by which one world will rule over the other or be able to merely ignore the other. The morality of the older generation, the one with the power and money, is often based upon an institutionalized morality where control over resources dictated the moral use of those resources. I do not believe that RIAA has the moral high ground.
But I must say that I still see stealing as wrong, I still pay for my downloads and I do not understand the attitude of those young myself. What I do not believe is the Generation X and Y are immoral as a whole. They are defining themselves differently but doing so those not make them immoral even if they don't follow old rules. It was Entrepreneurial Mind that introduced me to Sam Davidson. I am not saying that Sam Davidson would download songs without paying, but he is an excellent example of what Generation X can produce.
Professor Jeff Cornwall wrote in his blog Entrepreneurial Mind some time ago a post encouraging entrepreneurs to translate their ethics and values into concrete actions in their businesses.
While business ethics is getting much more attention in the press, in the boardroom and in the classroom, I am concerned that our definition of business ethics is sliding into a legalistic world of rules compliance. Whether it's in everyday life or in the business world, we have to be careful not to boil morality down to a simple list of don''s that serves as a checklist of how to be ethical. Business ethics should so much more than a list of rules to follow. It should be a much broader set of standards of how we treat one another.
The issue of ethics applies to everyone in the market. The question is, and Professor Cornwall could very well see it differently, do we need a new set of rules?