(Copyright) Ethics Issues, Society, and Law


are now living in a generation called the information age where we notice that most of our activities are technology-influenced, be it making an online payment, making or inventing of own part of art or information (such as writing articles or clicking photographs and so on). With the reach of technology in our day-to-day life, there has been a paradigm shift, and it has also raised specific issues and problems related to society, ethics, and law. In this article, we shall discuss subjects in this domain such as intellectual property rights (copyright), plagiarism, cybercrime, cyberlaw, e-waste direction, etc.

2. ETHICAL ISSUES (copyright)

These days, we can easily say that our civilization is an information society and our generation is an information era. As we all know that information is the means to gain knowledge. In other words, we can say that information forms the intellectual capital of a person or body. However, there are multiple ethical issues involved with the use and availability of information.

Also Read: Open Source Software philosophy and licenses

Some common ethical issues are:

  • Intellectual property rights
  • Plagiarism
  • Digital property rights

2.1 Intellectual Property Rights:

As mentioned earlier, information makes intellectual property. Any piece of information is produced or created with a lot of effort and it consumes a lot of time. The cost factor is even concerned with the creation or presentation of information. Though once created, it becomes very easy to copy it or share it with others. But this very thing makes information difficult to protect, unlike tangible property. The creator/producer of the information is the actual owner of the information. And the proprietor has every right to protect his/her intellectual property. To guard one’s intellectual property rights one can obtain information copyrighted or patented or use trademarks. Let us speak about what these terms mean.


Intellectual property rights are the rights of the owner of the information to choose how much information is to be traded, shared, or distributed. Also, it provides the owner a right to decide the price for doing (exchanging/sharing/distributing) so.

What is it?A copyright is a legal term to describe the rights of the creator of original creative work such as a literary work, an artistic work, a design, song, movie, software, etc.A patent directs to a pack of exclusive rights assigned to the inventor for their invention(s).Trademarks are some registered words, slogans, logos, shapes, colors and sounds, etc used to distinguish the works or services of one merchant from another.
What’s Protected?Original works of authorship, such as books, articles, songs, photographs, sculptures, choreography, sound recordings, motion graphics, and other creations.Inventions, such as processes, machines, manufacturers, and compositions of matter as well as improvements to these.Any word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that recognizes and determines the source of the work of one party from those of others.
Requirements to be ProtectedWork must be original, creative, and fixed in a tangible medium.A design must be new, useful, and non-obvious.A signature must be distinctive (i.e., that is, it must be capable of identifying the source of particular works).
Term of ProtectionAuthor’s life plus 60 more years in India.20 yearsFor as long as the mark is used in commerce.
Rights GrantedRight to control the reproduction, creating of derivative creation, distribution, and public performance and show of the copyrighted works.Right to control others from creating, selling, using, or importing the patented creativity.Right to use the mark and to contain others from using matching patterns in a way that would cause a likelihood of confusion about the source of the goods or services.

The ethical issue concerned with it is that information must not be exchanged without the permission of its proprietor. The intellectual property rights must be guarded, for it :

  • enables individuals and businesses to create new software and new software applications, as well as improve existent applications,
  • ensures new theories and technologies are widely distributed,
  • promotes investment in the national economy.

.2.1A Violation of IPR:

People and organizations violate intellectual property rights (IPR) in many ways. The violation of IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) is named infringement or IPR infringement.

There are three forms of IPR violation:

  • Plagiarism
  • Copyright infringement
  • Trademark infringement


The violation of IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) is named infringement or IPR infringement.


Simply put, Plagiarism means stealing. Surprised? If you look into an English dictionary to find the meaning of the word plagiarism, it will give somewhat like “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and ideas of another writer and the representation of them as one’s own original creation.”

Consequently, Plagiarism is stealing someone else’s intellectual creation (can be an idea, literary work, academic work, etc.) and representing it as your own work without showing credit to the creator or without mentioning the source of information.

Any of the subsequent acts would be termed Plagiarism :

  1. Using some other author’s work without giving credit to the author.
  2. Using someone else’s work in a wrong form than intended originally by the author/creator. Modifying/lifting someone’s presentation such as music composition etc. without attributing it to the creator of the creation.
  3. Giving incorrect or incorrect source of information i.e., wrongful citation.
  4. Failure in giving credit or acknowledging the contribution of others in a collaborative effort, of which you are also part.
How not to Plagiarize

As most universities¹ put in their student handbook. To avoid plagiarism:

It would be best if you gave credit whenever you use

  1. another person’s idea, opinion, or theory;
  2. sources of another person’s actual spoken or written words; or
  3. Translate another person’s said or written words.
Plagiarism is Offence

‘If plagiarism involves copying not only concepts but also a substantial portion of a copyrighted work without attribution and without a license, it would amount to both copyright infringement and the violation of the ‘special right’ of the author to be credited. Copyright infringement and the violation of an author’s right to be credited are both civil wrongs and criminal offenses. A civil case may be instituted, and criminal charges may also be filed. Both civil cases and criminal charges are punishable crimes and charge fines and penalties.

Copyright Infringement

A copyright violation guides to using of copyrighted work without the approval or permission of the copyright holder. The violation of intellectual property occurs when someone or a group of individuals fabricates copywriters’ work intentionally or unintentionally without giving them credit. For instance, if you use an image or a video available online, without asking for permission, it may be copyright infringement because not everything which is available on the Internet is available for free use. Most of the things available online are copyright protected.


A copyright infringement directs to using copyrighted work without the license or permission of the copyright holder.

Other examples of copyright infringement include:

  1. Selling pirated books
  2. Selling copied/duplicated artwork
  3. Selling pirated software
  4. Performing a play in public without getting permission from the play right.
  5. Online piracy and many other such acts.
Trademark Infringement

Trademark infringement is the unauthorized usage of a mark that is identical to or deceptively matching a registered trademark. The term deceptively similar here means that when an average consumer peeks at the mark, it is likely to mistake him/her for the source of the goods or services.

All types of IPR infringements are crimes and the owner can start legal action against the people/companies who do it.


Trademark infringement is the unauthorized usage of a mark that is matching or deceptively similar to a registered trademark.

(copyright) Ethics Issues, Society, and Law
(Copyright) Ethics Issues, Society, and Law

2.2 Digital Property Rights:

Digital property (or digital assets) directs to any information about you or designed by you that exists in digital format, either online or on an electronic storage device. All of your digital property includes what is known as your digital manor.

Samples of the digital property contain any online personal accounts, such as email and communications accounts, shopping accounts, photos, social media accounts, video sharing accounts, video gaming accounts, online storage accounts, and websites and blogs that you may operate; domain names registered in your name; intellectual property, including copyrighted materials, trademarks, patents and any software or code (such as software tools developed by you or games or apps made by you) you may have written and own, etc.

Digital property rights lie with the owner. Honestly, a person who has built it or the owner who has got it developed by paying legally is the legal proprietor of digital property. Only the owner can use and choose who all and in what form can his/her digital asset may be used by others, whether by making payments or by purchasing it or by getting its license or usage rights etc. But this is not the case normally; there are many threats to digital properties.

Threats to Digital Properties

Let us shortly talk about common threats to digital properties :

Digital software penetration tools:

Although one requires to buy usage rights or a license to use a digital property, there are multiple software penetration tools such as cracks and keygens, tools made by hackers to penetrate your software’s registration system and enable unauthorized users to freely access your software without honestly paying for it

Stealing codes of your digital properties:

Sometimes other creators somehow get hold of your software’s source code and then make plagiarized versions of your code and exploit it in their own software. In other words, they steal your software’s source code and use it to build their own versions of it, and then sell it under their own company name.

Digital Property Rights Protection

As there are multiple types of threats to digital properties, there are many ways you can ensure the protection of your digital properties. Let us talk about these protecting steps:

Anti-Temper Solutions.

There are many anti-tamper solutions available today which ensure that your digital property is tamper-proof. These anti-tamper solutions use a host of advanced technologies to prevent hackers from hacking, reverse-engineering, or manipulating your digital properties such as utility tools, software, apps, video games, and so forth.

Legal Clauses.

Add a lawful clause in the clauses of usage of your software/digital work. You must have a transparent clause in your software’s Terms of Service that restricts the scraping of your software’s source code for reuse. This is a good lawful backup for you.

Limit the sharing of software code.

You should share your software code only with trusted people who are part of the development group. You should also use a Digital Rights Management (DRM) resolution to protect your software from being scraped for source code using decompilers etc.

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