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Computer Ethics and Piracy Computer piracy, which is the illegal copying and/or distribution of software, is a serious issue that happens throughout today s world. Software piracy hurts the many computer programmers who make these games, utilities, and other applications. Another form of piracy is hardware, which will be covered in more depth later in this report. Any form of piracy hurts the developers and the retailers who sell the hardware and/or software. That is why it is important to follow certain computer ethics, so you don t get caught up in the mess. Also, if you are a frequent Internet user, certain ethics or “cyberethics” most be followed to ensure the safety and privacy of you and others. Software piracy is the most common form of piracy in the world today. The pirating of utility programs, games, and other computer applications occurs mostly outside the United States. The majority of violators make their home especially in Asian countries such as China and Thailand. They have like over in the billions worth of pirated software available to customers. Authorities there hardly care about such issues as software piracy, so most computer programs they sell there are illegal. This does not mean though that pirating software does not occur in our own communities. Some of us do it everyday. One such example is the lending of programs to friends and families. This in fact, is illegal and is a definite form of software piracy. The reason for this is that you are distributing the software to people who have not paid for it from legit retailers. So the next time, Uncle Bob asks for some software of yours, think twice before doing anything. You can also get pirated software from underground shops and computer shows, such as the one they host at CSUN. Obtaining illegal software is not a hard task to do. In fact, it is very simple. Not only can you get pirated software from non-legit retailers, but also you can download it from the Internet itself. It is not like pirated software is rare; it is all over the place. There is another popular form of piracy that lurks around the Internet. It is very popular among people who like music. You can download these types of files from the Internet, even on services such as America Online. These types of files, also known as MP3s. MP3s are converted .wav files, compressed so much, that a 50 megabyte .wav can be transformed into a file less than 5 megabytes. To make such MP3 files is a very simple process. All one needs is a CD-ROM drive, preferably a brand-name drive, a CD burner (a program that allows you to convert a CD audio track into a .wav file), an MP3 compressor (a program in which you can convert .wav files into a readable MP3 file), and anyone of your favorite CDs. As a note, making your own MP3s is in fact LEGAL. The only way it is illegal is if you violate the copyright law and distribute them through the Internet. With a CD-ROM drive, Person A inserts his music CD into it. He then uses his CD burner to take an audio file, or track, from the CD, and converts it to a .wav file. The CD burner does this entire process of converting an audio file to a .wav file with much ease. With the new .wav file formed, Person A uses the MP3 compressor to then convert the .wav file to a true MP3 file. The way one listens to an MP3 file is with the use of an MP3 player, such as WinAMP. It would be appropriate if Person A uses the file for his own personal use. But, if he uploads it to the Internet, and starts sending it to his friends on America Online, this is ILLEGAL. There haven t been a lot of criminal charges for distributing or supplying such files compared to the numerous accounts of the true “reproduction” of commercial software, but it should be taken seriously by anyone who attempts to engage in such activities. Now you ask yourself, how does one make pirated software? It is in fact, very simple to do, and with the right equipment, you can make your own too (but don t because it is illegal). The way that most people “recreate” software is with the use of a rewrite-able or write-able CD-ROM drive. This piece of equipment ranges from around $200 to about $500 depending on what type you want. After the person buys the necessary equipment, he/she installs it on their computer. That person then takes some software that he/she has purchased, and starts to make illegal copies of that piece of software. The person then can sell the pirated software to anyone willing to buy it at a very low price. This is how one usually does it, and it is the most common way. As for the Internet, getting full-versions of software is as easy as just a few clicks with the mouse button. On the Internet, there are TONS and TONS of uploaded software that Net surfers can download. If you wish to partake in downloading any commercial software, it takes a long time to download depending on your type of connection. Anyone, who wants to distribute software on the Net, must upload it to an FTP site first. For people who do this, it takes a lengthy period of time to do so, since most applications are over 20 megabytes these days. Once it has been uploaded to the FTP site, Internet users can then connect to the FTP and download whatever is there. The cost of pirated software is fairly cheap. You can buy this software from around 50% to 80% off the normal price at retailers. From the Internet, the cost is free of charge. This is what makes obtaining pirated software so tempting to do. But, it is illegal and is not right. You are just as guilty as the people who make it are. So don t do it. Piracy costs software developers and their companies millions and millions of dollars every year. Piracy brings a negative effect towards the people who make the programs. It tremendously hurts the developers especially. The reason for this is that creating a piece of software takes a lot of painstaking effort to complete, and when it is sold for somewhere around $5, and the software sells for $80, they are losing a lot of profit. Sales expectations drop due to the increased purchasing of such software. Companies lose lots of money and you have to live with the fact that you have purchased software that is “stolen”. In the U.S. alone, $2.4 billion was lost to software piracy. If you compare these numbers to the amount lost in the world, the difference is astounding. Globally, somewhere between $10 – $15 billion have been lost. If you are caught pirating software, the penalties are also very serious. You can get fined for up to $100,000 per illegal copy found in your possession. That is a ton of money, especially if you decide to run a business off pirated software. You can spend up to 5 years in prison and all of the copies you had made are totally destroyed. These are some of the main punishments suffered by people who try to pirate software. IT IS ILLEGAL!

Not only is there software piracy, but also there is also something called hardware piracy. What is hardware piracy? Hardware piracy, often referred to as “carding” is when people buy computer goods, and other stuff as well, with stolen credit cards, and sell them on the Internet for over 80% off the regular price. This is another tempting reason why to buy from such dealers, since these “carders” sell top of the line computers for under $400. These types of people, who hardware pirate, are becoming unreliable with their services. Such example is when you pay for the stolen hardware, and they don t send the stuff you ordered. If this ever happens, you just lost yourself a lot of money! This is one of the main reasons why hardware piracy isn t as popular as software piracy. You can mostly encounter these “carders” on America Online in one of the piracy chat rooms. They send you their list of stolen goods await your eagerness to buy their stuff. Likewise, hardware piracy hurts the company and their developers who make the hardware. Not only that, but you are using another person s credit card number. You don t know who these people are, yet if you do this type of stuff, you are basically stealing their money. Buying computer goods like this is a MAJOR illegal offense. Depending on what you buy, you may end up in jail, which is totally not good. And if you even send out your money for some computer hardware, you might get ripped off and they will have some of your money. If you are one of these people who buy computer goods with stolen credit cards, be prepared for lots of cash fines and some prison time on the side. The consequences are more serious than pirating software. All together, piracy, software and hardware, hurt the developers who make them and hurt the consumers, because they are the ones who are buying non-legit stuff. Another major problem in the world of computers is the invasion of privacy of others. In the age of computers, information can be stored on them. Some of the information is helpful, other information, can be information about you. Sometimes, while surfing the net, you may encounter a site where it asks you to take a brief survey. This survey usually reveals your hobbies, the personal stuff you keep to yourself, etc. etc.. This information is taken from you and is sold to companies who make goods related to your interests. The companies send you brochures, junk e-mail, and they even might call you up on the phone, trying to sell their products to you. Also, when you buy stuff off the Internet, transmissions can be intercepted, thus people can have access to your credit card number(s), and/or other bits of important information. One way to stop all of this is with the use of an World Wide Web browser such as Internet Explorer 4.0. This browser lets you regulate the security, whether you want it to be very strict or very lenient, you can control it. It will often notify you when hackers can access your information while transmitting something on the web. This is a good way to get rid of all those sneaky fools who think that they can “spy” on you as you work or play on the net. If you follow the following computer ethics and “netiquette”, you will have a pleasurable time on the Internet, while being safe and private. First of all, respect the privacy of others. Don t try to get their personal information or anything else like that because you are basically spying on that person. In chat rooms and when writing e-mail, be courteous and polite. You don t want to give people you don t know a bad impression of you. Don t flame anyone either. Be careful of junk e-mail! It s everywhere, including such services as America Online and CompuServe. These types of e-mail may lead you to sites that you don t want to go to. They are very annoying and it is a must for you to delete them once you receive them. These are some of the basic computer ethics that are a must to follow. Some other ethics are also important to follow. They apply to the intermediate computer user but should also be followed by the novice. Whatever you do, don t download anything off the Internet until you know who the person actually is. If you don t even have a clue who the person is, chances are it might be a virus. Virii can screw-up your computer depending which virus it is. There is a new popular virus out now. It s called Back Orpheous, also known as a Trojan horse. Technically, it s not a virus, but it can act like one, with the help of your control. This is what happens when this Trojan infects your computer. If someone has your IP address (the number that identifies you on the Internet) they can remotely control your computer from theirs. For example, if I send the Trojan horse to Bob, I will have complete control over Bob s computer. I can open and close his CD-ROM drive. I can download anything that is on his computer. I can control his mouse. I can disable all of the keyboard keys. I can even restart, shutdown, or power-off the computer! I can upload files to his desktop. I can steal his passwords for applications. I can even see what he is doing on his computer. For example, the horse lets the “invader” take a picture of the desktop and it sends it back to the person. I can also delete files off his computer to top it off. The thing that bugs a lot of people, is that you can t delete it without the help of another program which you can download off the Internet to “clean” your computer from any horses it might find. Likewise, you must not send computer virii to anyone. It really sucks when someone has to reformat their entire drive or drives, because someone sent them a virus. The viruses might also backfire on you, and you may become infected. These virii usually come in the extension of *.exe, so if you do decide to download something off the Internet with this extension, scan it for virii, or you may be come the next victim. So, my advice to you is not to handle such programs. Also, another thing not to do is “hack”. Hacking is when someone illegally logs on to someone s computer through remote access or local access, and modifies any file on that computer; delete, copy, change information, etc. etc. Serious charges also come with “hacking”. Payable fine and some jail time might apply to you. Using computers can be a great experience for you, if you follow the rules of the road. Piracy, hardware and software, will make your journey a tough one, and can result to sever consequences. Certain etiquette must be followed when using a computer to make sure that your journey is a safe and exciting one. Not following certain guidelines will leave you hanging from a cliff, with no help at all around you. In conclusion, you should stay away from the trouble that lurks on your computer and on the Internet. If you decide to make this risky decision, please be aware of the consequences you might face.

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