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Re: Theos-World feedback on intellectual rights and ethics

Nov 13, 1997 07:39 AM
by Eldon B Tucker


[writing to MKR]

>> Right now, anything goes is what is going. Even if the rights issue is
>> sorted out, enforcement of any violation is going to be impossible.
>	There is a big difference between what is legal and what is right. As
>Theosophists, we should always try to do what is right, even if doing
>what is wrong is legal.

You bring up an important point. There may be a big difference
between what is against the law and what is right to do. The
law may be based upon what is enforceable and have low standards
at times. This does not mean that we lower our standards. The
end result of only doing what is required by law is the "what
we can get away with" mentality, which leads individuals and
major corporations to do terrible things in the world, things
that are technically legal but morally offensive. 

Our standards *should* be based upon a sense of what is the
right thing to do, according to well-defined ethics, taking
into account the rights and needs of others.

Enforcement is a non-issue, from an ethical standpoint. An
ethical person acts out of a sense of right even when it's
not in that person's best interest, even when the majority
may not be doing the right thing.

The issue of rights and the author's intent still need to
be sorted out, as MKR mentions. There are too many people
doing things on the Internet to police everything, and not
everyone is educated nor scrupulous. What will be the
status quo in the future is yet to be seen. 

The basic idea, as I see it, is that a writer still 
retains intellectual rights to their materials. What
needs defining are the ground rules for using Internet
publishing, like news groups, mailing lists, and Web
pages, where it's clear-cut what rights the author is
giving up in putting materials online in different ways.

There are a number of articles by ACM (a professional
computer association) dealing with these issues. An
example point would be that to give a URL is like
citing someone's work, while including the actual text
of their writings in your web page would constitute
republication, and require permission if the work was
not in the public domain.

Perhaps a discussion of what are the types of Internet
publishing and what their ground rules should be
might be useful.

-- Eldon

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