The act you perform may not be as important as the thinking / reason behind it. Sharing could land you in prison. You could kill and be applauded, you could be Robin Hood and get massive adulation.
It is more about the reason, rather than the act itself
Nothing is right, and nothing is wrong, but thinking makes it so.
The issue of the (il)legality or (im)morality of taking intellectual property, and using it as your own had always been contentious.
While doing that could be subject to different points of views (depending on the country or the state of your conscience) regarding how right or wrong it is, there is little doubt that taking intellectual property and going commercial with it is not right, even if it is not illegal in some jurisdictions.
That would certainly be unethical, or immoral, in the least.
We are all aware of the serious fracas with the law regarding founders of torrenting sites (like PirateBay), and the lengths media practitioners, satellite TV providers, and the likes, go to, to protect their content.
The other day, a Facebook friend posted how interesting she found a particular motivational book (Innovators’ Dilemma) she was currently reading . In three minutes, I googled, downloaded the book, and shared the download link on Facebook to “friends”.
I have always found it interesting… that there are people who regard copyright infringement as a form of flattery… Tom Lehrer
This is not the first time I have found a link online (of apps, video, articles, ebooks, whatever), and shared it almost impulsively to those I feel may benefit from it.
Swiftly, a respected friend castigated this copyright infringement act, sent a PM, saying..
I had to hide the comment which had the link to the book because I don’t think it’s right to encourage people to violate copyrights.
When you are in doubt as to the origin of an online content, it is better you keep it private to yourself if you must have it.
Let’s reverse the situation…
Supposing someone sends me a link to whatever (book, video..), is it my responsibility to investigate the source before I use it, and probably share it? Seriously, it doesn’t look like this is practicable, as you can’t always do that, even if you want to.
If you acknowledge the fact that people are able to share content freely due to (internet) technology, it begins to look like tiresome tedium or taking personal probity to excessive levels to expect that using a material is immoral if the source is illegal .
Computer village is filled with pirated materials, and many businesses thrive on copyright infringement from Peking, China to Alaba International Market in Lagos Nigeria.
The big question is, do little drops of water REALLY make a mighty ocean? You could argue that the content creators need to make a living, and plagiarism / copyright infringement deprives them of legitimate income.
But, how wise or worthwhile is it to move against a moving train, or, swim against a strong tide? I thought it’s said that the trend is your friend?
What impact does it make to decide to do the right thing (even if of little practical significance).. in a world gone mad, and being right could be so wrong?
Do you feel a pang of guilt actively googling for materials without consideration for the legality, receiving a music track from a friend, or watching that online movie, or enthusiastically recommending and providing a download link for a friend)?
Would you give that pirated AutoCAD DVD to a friend to install on his computer, despite the fact that it is meant for your single use on your personal computer?
Is it the easy and rapid reproducibility of online media that makes it wrong?
How sensible would a manufacturer be to insist that only you can drive the car you bought, and lending it to that friend whenever he needs a car would not make him buy a car, thus depriving the car manufacturer legitimate income?
If you don’t password your Wi-Fi hotspot, and I use it to download all night long, would this be termed illegal / immoral? Would the situation be any different if that neighbour who left his “wifey” available for plundering did it as a philanthropic act (same act, same circumstances)?
How illegal, unethical or immoral would downloading materials without bothering about source be, taking cognizance of the volume of unidentifiable materials resident online, which are truly low hanging fruits, waiting to be plucked?
How justified is it to use affordability as an excuse in a country of N18,000 minimum wage?
Would that average struggling student truly be able to afford the software he has on his N25K laptop, if he were to buy every single software from the correct source?
And, knowing how he had abundant free content online in his student days, would he, as an adult likely not continue with the mentality of you can get anything free online .?