In this paper, a discussion is made regarding ethics in the context of intellectual property. Ethics concerns with all that is considered morally upright. It entails actions that take into account rights and interests of all parties or stakeholders. On the other hand, intellectual property encapsulates rights protected under law for the creations of the mind. It includes protection of artistic works, inventions, designs and marks that belong to certain persons. All across the globe, various activities are undertaken that can be understood to infringe on the rights of such owners of intellectual property. In the following chapters, examples are given of scenarios where intellectual property rights are abused. An abuse on rights to intellectual property constitutes a breach on ethics.
Copyrights prohibit the use of an author or producer’s content without their prior consent. On the educational front, for instance, in a college or university, mass production of copies for educational purposes is done on a daily basis. Books, journals or articles by various authors are reproduced through photocopying (George, 2011). Owners of such content or works must have invested substantially to produce whatever that is being photocopied. In fact, time and funds being the most notable resources. It also takes a mind to reason before anything of substantive content that can be relied on for studies can be created. Before any educational or informative content is produced, diligent research and study becomes prerogative. It is obvious that as much as producers or authors of the content desire to equip learners and the world with knowledge, they too wish to earn a return out of their work. For income to accrue to the original creators of such content, their original material will have to be sold at a certain determined price. Production of their content through photocopying in whatever way denies the owners a source of income and compensation for their work.
Technology has greatly enhanced human life. Communication and access to information and data has immensely changed. Music and videos data are easily obtained through technological techniques. Live events can be obtained and stored on sophisticated gadgets like phones (Greenhalgh & Rogers, 2010). The stored content can then be played at any time and be reproduced and transferred to numerous parties. Such unwarranted use of data that belongs to a person of another without their approval harms their rights over the control of their work. Storage devices have worsened the fate of owners of such content; for instance, flash disks and external storage devices.
From the above discussion, obtaining, processing and using content that belongs to another person without their approval infringes on their rights. Producers lack control over the transfer or spread of their products. They too are denied income since everyone who obtains their content is supposed to pay for the service or product procured. The use of trademarks of others or similar to those of others to the extent that they can cause confusion before unsuspecting customers or clients is also a cause of moral failure and breach of ethical considerations. The intention of trademarks and patents is to protect owners for their creations and thereby compensation for the work of their minds and resources (George, 2011). Unscrupulous people reproduce counterfeit products and brand them with marks belonging to original manufacturers or producers. In that disguise, they sell the products in false pretense. Where products fail to meet customers’ or clients’ needs, such would create a bad reputation on the real owners of original brand.
The above discussions have concentrated on ethical issues in the light of rights to owners, inventors or creators of various contents. Protection of intellectual property is a fundamental right guaranteed under the constitution (Greenhalgh & Rogers, 2010). It is personal property. Where intellectual property is fairly protected by law, inventions and innovations would be encouraged. The same protections under intellectual property raise certain moral questions regarding to the rights of the public to information and promotion of the rights to education for learners and researchers.
As has been presented above, recognition of the rights of authors and writers of various content of educational and informative nature is noble and upheld by the law. To protect the intellectual property rights of an author, reproduction of his or her content would require a ban. Therefore, photocopying being one activity to be prohibited. In colleges and universities, students undertake photocopying for mainly educational purposes (George, 2011). A majority of students can hardly afford the costs of purchasing books from bookshops. They only make copies of pages relevant to their study. A ban on such noble exercise would imply making education expensive, and thereby a preserve of the few. The effects associated with low or lack of education are majorly of negative nature. Banning of such reproduction would benefit the authors, at the same time, serve a blow to promotion of education. The poor would be hit hardest. A balance would require to be struck in order to have a level playing ground and fairness.
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Property rights are legal interests protected for the creativeness and investments made by owners. Owners are meant to be protected against unwarranted benefit to third parties by recreating content. Therefore, justice is served through a proper legal recognition of such rights. However, in the formulation of such legal provisions, there arises the need to equally protect public interest to information and promotion of education and research. A level playing ground that balances the need for fairness and justice would be appropriate.
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