Computer Ethics, Sum 2021

Class 3 Readings

June 1

Before class 2, finish reading chapter 1 and read the first three sections of chapter 4.

A new Amazon antitrust theory

We already knew that Amazon Prime was anticompetitive, because, having paid your hefty annual fee, you're sort of locked in.

But Karl Racine, Attorney General for Washington D.C., has a different theory in mind, apparently. It's easy, as a third-party merchant, to sell on Amazon. But to get what Stoller's article above calls the "Buy Box", you have to promise not to sell for less elsewhere.

That is, you have to promise not to sell for less without free shipping. Even selling through, where customers can choose to pick up the merchandise at their nearest physical Walmart (which is much cheaper than shipping to the home address). Another form of discount shipping is more-than-two-days shipping. Yet another is the old-fashioned pay-by-actual-costs, which means, in general, that shipping a dozen small items costs the same as shipping one.

Free shipping costs a lot. It means shipping charges must be incorporated into the selling price. A company that sells on Amazon and their own website pretty much has to offer free shipping from their home site, which will cost -- order of magnitude -- the same as on Amazon (maybe even slightly more). But, as with, there are other options. Amazon prohibits these.

Racine's theory is not a slam-dunk, but so far Amazon has argued that their large size has not harmed consumers, and this is a start.

Once Upon A Time, only fairly large corporations could infringe copyrights. So the enforcement zone was limited. Now everyone, as individuals, can infringe copyrights. This completely changes the legal landscape, and nobody is quite sure what to do.

Who is copyright for? And how does this affect our sense of how copyright laws should be interpreted in "edge" cases?

DMCA and Server-based file-sharing

The majority of infringement today appears to be via Bittorrent, usually with a VPN

Other DMCA responses:

Fair Use and music sampling


Other Fair Use

RIAA lawsuits

Other copyright cases

Google Books


I'm back from a week at my mom's house and now I'm getting ads for her toothpaste brand.

How are they doing this?

Is it a problem?

Would it be a problem if the government were doing it?