Computer Ethics, Summer 2020 online
Tuesdays and Thursdays . We're
scheduled for 5:30-8:45. The Comp 317 and 417 groups are in the process of
being split into two sections. I still have not decided (even though it's
been almost two hours since the split was announced to me) whether we'll
meet all as a group, or whether we'll split it with 3:17 meeting 5:30-7:00
and 417 meeting 7:15-8:45. We might do a combination.
Because there are asynchronous class video lectures, we will NOT
be meeting the full 3 hours 15 minutes.
General class structure: maybe start 317/417 split next week?
5/19 miniwriting assignment: What do you see as the
future of copyright? Will it survive? Will enforcement become increasingly
intrusive? What do you think? Write a few sentences on the Sakai forum,
or, if you really prefer, send them to me by email. I'd like them by
5/29 Paper 1
Class 1 Readings
Watch the first video, on filesharing (in the Sakai
Read the first three sections of Baase chapter 1 and at least the first
section of chapter 4, especially:
Video sharing in §1.2.1
Cellphone case-study in §1.2.2
What is intellectual property?: §4.1.1
Before class 2, watch the second video, on ethical theory,
and finish reading chapter 1 and read the first three sections
of chapter 4.
The main course notes are in the Notes Organized by Topic
section on the main web page. Reading assignments, comments on the class
discussion and occasional special notices are in these week-by-week notes.
There will be three papers. For the first paper, you will be given an
opportunity to rewrite it.
Plagiarism rules: be sure ALL
quotations are marked as such, and also cited.
When you write, be sure you organize your points clearly and address the
question. Grammar and style count for MUCH less!
In the past, I've had everyone participate in one or two "debates". I'm not
quite sure yet how that will work for the online course, so for the moment
that's on hold. If we go with it, I will publish a list of topics soon, and
create a sign-up site. Topics will be in the form of declarative sentences;
topics based on the examples above might be
- We need a strong DMCA takedown process to protect copyright holders
- Mass communications monitoring should be abolished; no government
agency should be able to access even communications metadata without a
finding of probable cause.
We will have an exam (via Sakai) at some point after the last class. It will
cover basic facts, and also have questions like (a) argue for a given
position, (b) argue against.
Example: is file-sharing stealing, if
nobody lost anything?
- understanding traditional ethical theories in the context of computing
- understanding legal theories of computing & information
- understanding some of the social consequences of computing technology
- Should we still use the word "stealing"
- Is it as bad as physical theft?
Overview of some of the issues we will discuss this semester:
- copyright (ch 4)
- whether there is such a thing as "intellectual property"
- DMCA: Digital Millennium Copyright Act
- privacy (ch 2)
- matching / fraud prevention
- personal profiles
- web tracking
- from employers
- from copyright holders (RIAA lawsuits, ISP actions)
- per-use content management
- software patents (ch
- what is the purpose of
software patents? To enforce ownership rights, or to improve
- computer crime
- software licensing
- legal issues regarding "click" contracts
- trust and the web
- security: phishing, certificates, etc
- antitrust issues
- professional issues
- responsibilities and liabilities
- talking to your supervisor
Case Studies from theory_filesharing.html
- Is it theft?
- Is it wrong?
- Who is copyright law for?
- Who are downloaders harming?
- How far can the Napster model go?
- Wrong or not, is it reasonable to expect people to abstain from
Ethical theory preview: problems
First look at Fair Use: how much use is fair, and why?
Facebook, Google, and freedom to talk about Covid19
Michael Eisner's June
2000 statement to Congress (edited, from Halbert & Ingulli 2004).