Management Information Systems

Message from professor:
Over the last five weeks we have discussed various topics connected to the social, organizational and individual effects of computing and network technologies. We have looked at the question of Intellectual Property Rights and technological progress through the cases of open source software and file sharing, we have looked at questions of democracy through issues of privacy and the transnational structure of business (outsourcing and supply chain) (and the whole new area of social media). Each of you have t return to the these discussions and readings and write a short 3-5 page reflection paper in response to any one of the following two questions:

1. Do we need to fundamentally rethink the concept of IPR and develop a new policy/legal framework to ensure open technological progress?

2. Do we need a new set of policies and legislation to ensure that democracy is not compromised in the network age?

Open Source:


There are ten criteria that open-source software must comply with:

  1. There are no restrictions or fees on selling or giving away the software in combination with other software from other sources.
  1. The source code must be available my some means and must be in a format that can be modified.
  2. Modifications and derived works must be allowed.
  3. The source-code may be restricted if “patch files” are distributed contained the source code so that the program can be changed.
  4. No discrimination.
  5. The license must be accessible for any type of “endeavor.”
  6. Program rights need to be with the program for those who it is redistributed to.
  7. The program rights must be the same for distribution with any software.
  8. The license cannot restrict another software that it is distributed with.
  9. The license cannot be for any one type of technology.

Open Source Philosophy:

  • GPL code:  protects the freedoms of the user from the developer
  • Example:  Wikipedia
  • Matt Mullenweg hopes technology brings a win-win situation to society
    • maintain convenience while being green to the environment

CNET Free Software:  (

  • Guide to finding free programs on the web, which are usually open source programs (people work together to make software that can be used for free)
  • Examples:  FireFox, LINUX operating system,
  • No company to contact if you experience issues, only forums available where the issue can be discussed.
  • allows users to do word processing, use spreadsheets, and create presentations
  • is an image manipulator that allows users to perform the same functions as photo shop.
  • allows users to manipulate audio tracks, can be exported in different file formats, and import audio,
  • allows users to change video file formats
  • and houses many open source programs

File Sharing:

The Music Industry:
Any unauthorized copying of music is against the law; copyright laws protect the value of work by the artists.  This occurs when someone makes a copy of someone else’s work without the artist’s permission than you are “stealing” something valuable to them.

A civil law suit could hold you responsible for many of thousands of dollars in fines and if criminal charges arise you may find yourself with a felony record as well as up to five years of jail time with fines up to $250,000.
Courts essentially say it is illegal to download or upload music without permission and that’s that.

Copying music from a cd and giving it away is illegal
Downloading songs from websites
Anything that is copyrighted cannot be remade without permission first

Fight on why file sharing should be legal
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a digital civil liberties union to fight for free-speech and privacy rights who are attempting to legalize sharing of music as well as movies.  File sharing is extremely popular despite lawsuits and other attempts to stop these users from providing music and movies to people all over the world.  Essentially the entertainment industry is pushing Congress to tighten sanctions up for file sharing users and to also help restrict innovation in the field.  Thus this is why Electronic Frontier Foundation is stepping in to ensure there is a place for innovation and to make the lives of millions easier by fighting in favor of file sharing.  One of the bigger cases against innovation was MGM vs Grokster and this was where Electronic Frontier Entertainment went to the Supreme Court and defended the right of innovators to create new technologies without asking for the entertainment industry’s permission first, in the end neither side got what they wanted; MGM was not given a veto over innovations and Grokster did not get full permission to continue their specific venture.
Spain declares file sharing and link sites legal: the music group SGAE wanted a full trial to shut down the file sharing sites, but the outcome was not what they were looking for.  The judge declared the sites legal if they are for non-commercial sites as well as non-profit use, so if the company does not directly see a profit it is legal in Spain.

Digital Economy Bill
The bill allows the UK courts to put blocks on websites, it requires ISPs to send warning letters from copyright holders, and it allows for internet disconnection on repeat offenses

Research and new trends
Music sharing didn’t kill cd sales says one study, “We find that file sharing has only had a limited effect on record sales, while downloads occur on a vast scale, most users are likely individuals who would not have bought the album even in the absence of file sharing.”
Private peer-to-peer systems are becoming more popular because it allows only trusted peers to participate, one gets in using a main server to allow other clients to join.


Basic Issues:
In intellectual property all expressions and products have an origin and have a lot of value that must be protected.  Ideas on the other hand are not intellectual property and no credit is rewarded to you if your ideas are stolen.  There are two groups of intellectual property, industrial property and copyright property.  Industrial property is based on patients, trademarks, industrial design, and geographic indications while copyright is based on literary, artistic, and performing works.  Since the internet came around the boundaries of intellectual property has been more challenging since innovation has occurred older copyright laws have been outdated.  Students and writers must be careful to cite quotes they find so they are not partaking in any plagiarism which can result in major penalties in the work place or especially school.
In defense of IPR:
In the global world intellectual property plays a big role in international trade as well as relationships between neighborhoods.  The first world explains intellectual property in a commercial standpoint while the creator is the individual.  The state holds the intellectual property in the second world and in the third world the intellectual property comes from the actions as well as activity in the state.  Lastly, the fourth world describes how intellectual property is in the soul and spirit of people.
Intellectual property is often overlooked in businesses; however, it is one of the most important assets to turn a business into a highly successful business.  Some forms of intellectual property are trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets.  When a company grows it usually means the company did so by with distinctive measures, when this is done it is often a good idea to register for a trademark before your product is distributed.  A copyright is often used as well to keep exclusive rights with the creator to ensure the work is not reproduced, this is often used with music, writings, and architectural plans.  Next we have a patent; this is a right that the United States government grants a person to exclude others from using or recreating the invention for a specific period of time.  Lastly are trade secrets, this is information that can be of economic value, these are generally not obtainable.  Trade secrets can vary from formulas, programs, techniques, etc.  Thus as long as a business takes the correct measures to protect the information, courts recognize that the information can be under protection as a trade secret.

Against IPR:
Copyrights and patents are not considered natural rights which people automatically possess.  They are actually given by governments for very particular purposes, but they happen to collide with more basic rights such as property rights.  However with patents its worse, patents restrain “free” people their most important trait, the free use of their brain. People are not allowed to use their own creative measures when trying to solve a problem if it has been previously patented, and this is one of the major drawbacks against IPR.  IPR tries to enforce barriers in the free flow of information which creates scarcity.  Moreover, if patents were taken away benefits would surely occur; these benefits are parties will pay individuals or teams to solve particular problems; a problem will be solved once and for all for all of humanity.  Ultimately there are many important problems that need to be solved and performing the same formulas or techniques will not get the job done, thus problems will never see a solution as long as one must work around patents in order not to infringe upon them.


In your opinion, do open source programs “steal” revenue from software such as Microsoft Office, Turbo Tax, or Photo Shop?  Why or why not.  Have you ever used any of these types of programs?

After hearing both sides of why music sharing should be legal or illegal what is your opinion on the issue?  Should music sharing be allowed or should it stay illegal like it currently is in the United States?

After seeing both sides of the IPR, would you say you’re in favor or against IPR?


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