Ethics – Do They Change Based On Generations? – Sidebar Update!


In the Wall Street Journal Law Blog and interesting post appeared this morning by Peter Lattman relating to “file sharing” copyright infringement and the University of Oregon.


It seems that when the Recording Industry Association of America subpoenaed the school for records of students who were uploading songs on a file-sharing network, the school fought back saying that the request was violating the student’s privacy rights.

The blog is shared (?) as follows:

Today’s NYT Sidebar column spotlights the University of Oregon and its legal battle against the music industry. Go Ducks!

The Recording Industry Association of America subpoenaed the school in September, asking it to identify 17 students who were uploading songs onto a file-sharing network. The school, represented by state AG Hardy Myers, fought back, moving to quash the subpoena. It said the RIAA was violating its student’s privacy rights and engaging in questionable investigative practices.

The music industry has sued thousands of illegal file sharers, and most of them settle for a few grand rather than engage in a lengthy court battle. And its litigation crusade is expanding, says the Times. The RIAA gets most schools to identify alleged file sharers and pass along “prelitigation letters” to them. It told the NYT it has provided some 150 schools about 4,000 letters which offer students the chance to settle for $3,000 by punching in a credit card number at

“Certainly it is appropriate for victims of copyright infringement to lawfully pursue statutory remedies,” the AG reportedly wrote in his motion. “However, that pursuit must be tempered by basic notions of privacy and due process.” He added: “The larger issue is whether plaintiffs’ investigative and litigation strategies are appropriate.”

While Adam Liptak reports that the Oregon AG’s legal argument has little chance of success and says no one should feel too badly for music stealers, he writes “it is nonetheless heartening to see a university decline to become the industry’s police officer and instead to defend the privacy of its students.” He concludes: “All the university is saying, after all, is that the record industry must make its case in court before the university will point a finger at one of its own.”

So the ethical question that seems to be moving front and center is which protection has greater value – privacy or copyright protection. As previously mentioned, the ethical standards are becoming much more grey as technology changes the medium of distribution.

Texas Motivational Speaker, Chuck Gallagher

As an Ethics Speaker, I often get the opportunity to speak to young people and their choices and the consequences that follow. A teen ethics survey is being planned for 2008 in the North Dallas area sponsored by the Choices Foundation. Do you think that teens have a strong foundation for making ethical choices?

Your thoughts on the ethics of file sharing and teen values changing.


One Response to Ethics – Do They Change Based On Generations? – Sidebar Update!

  1. Ashley Burr says:

    Fortunately, the music industry is finally figuring out how to adapt to the changing media. Unfortunately, ordinary music listening people don’t see music sharing as nearly the breach of ethical conduct that the music people (who have money involved) do. I’m not saying its not an issue, just that there is absolutely zero agreement on the ethical premises for conduct.

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