pirates! ahoy!

Slice of Life

Slice of Life

“Why do you think downloading software for free is okay?”

“Miss, I don’t have money,” replies a student who attends a private school in Asia.

In any case, I attempt to apply his logic to a different effect, “So, I don’t think I have enough money to buy a car in Indonesia. I think I’ll take your family’s car. That’s okay, right?”

“But I’m taking a copy. Not the real thing,” the student protests.

Sixth grade logic!! I had to concede this point. Yet, I felt compelled to respond to his genuine surprise that pirating would be anywhere in the vicinity of stealing. So I take a different approach, that I already know is not as effective.

“True. But who is the only person you have to live with the rest of your life? Of course, you! You need to decide what kind of person you want to spend all that time with. If someone takes a lot of time and uses tons of creativity to design something that you appreciate, wouldn’t you want to respect them by paying for their ideas if they ask you to chip in some money for their effort?”

Even I think of Wikipedia. Google, Linux and other open source services as reasons for not paying. This is a tough distinction to make for kids. Yet, the key is the line between legal copyright and designers who share their ideas for the joy of collaboration–and possibly a business model I don’t fully comprehend.

In tech class, we were examining the differences between “off the shelf” software, subscription based services and “open source” application and also apps. When I ask the students to close their laptops for further discussion, the student who defended pirating announces, “But I’m downloading right now!” to a collective giggle. I had to grin. Gravity is difficult to generate in discussions surrounding software piracy.

In fact, later, in a conversation with colleagues about illegal downloading in a country where NetFlix is not currently available and dvds of popular movies are suspiciously low priced at local vendors–my homeroom partner gives me a high-five for admitting that I have never knowingly illegally downloaded–not because I’m judg-y, but because I just haven’t taken the effort. I’m conventional. iTunes seems more of a direct route to Breaking Bad. People lend me their dvds of Downtown Abbey. I once followed a band, and genuinely enjoyed supporting them by paying for even the most obscure EPs.

Our other colleague asks him incredulously because she knows him well, “Really? Have you ever used iTunes?”

“Actually, no. But I was impressed by someone who does.”

“So the high-five was for the only nerd you’ve met?” I observe, smiling.

How do you approach the issue of pirates among us and within us? How do you discuss ethics in the classroom? Among colleagues?


About jaclynfre

Tech integration specialist, recipe adventurer, fast walker, sporadic writer, aunt, sister and daughter
This entry was posted in international teaching, life and culture and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to pirates! ahoy!

  1. I share your concerns with pirating software AND with plagerism. Once you cross the boundary to “using” someone else’s property, it’s hard to draw a line in the sand of where to stop. This is an epidemic (in my mind) everywhere!

  2. An interesting discussion on an important topic, indeed. It might be interesting to share this article with them, http://nyti.ms/VI0A5E. It’s about pilfering Nutella. I’d love to know what they think about it.

  3. jen b. says:

    Great piece. So much to think about, and sadly, I think the conversation should be just as alive and necessary among adults as we need it to be in the classroom. Thanks for sharing your perspective and experiences. I appreciate knowing I have a fellow iTunes user! 🙂

  4. Ah–intellectual property is an interesting thing to consider in this world. In the last year or so, I have asked questions like this to a testing company to which we have a subscription as well as about our Department of Education online. The testing company asked teachers to create their own test items and post them onto their web site. Okay… I go through a lot of trouble to try to create valid questions, etc., post them on their site, and then… who makes the money for them? Does my intellectual property become theirs? The same is true when we post lesson plans on a site run by our Dept. of Ed. When do we give up our rights to our thinking, especially in the digital age?

  5. Betsy says:

    A tricky subject but a great conversation has started here. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

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