Introduction to Computer Information Systems/Ethics

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Intellectual Property Rights[edit]


Copyrights are there to protect individuals' work, such as literature, art and music. Enacted in 1976, Copyrights give the original creator rights over what they created. Even if you die, you still retain rights 70 years after your death. So let's say you buy a CD from Zomboy[1], that does not give you the right to do whatever you want with his music. Even though it is now your property, the artist still holds rights over the songs. Often times with trying to prevent piracy, many things will have digital watermarks [2] , a slight change to content that most cannot see but identifies copyright holder.

Trademark Symbols

Trademarks are words, phrases, symbols, designs, or a combination of these that are used as an identifier in order to help consumers identify and distinguish one product/service from another one which might be similar. This is also referred to as they're "logo". Trademarks are usually registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPO)and use the letter R enveloped in a circle next to the logo to signify this. Trademarks which are claimed but unregistered are allowed to use the print tm alongside they're logo to represent that a claim has been made so as to deter others from using it. The purpose of a trademark is to protect the logo from being used by competitors who may want to "knock off" a more reputable company, though trademarks also protect domain names as well. Many companies want to set up a website using a domain name which matches their product so a consumer can instinctively find they're web address, and a trademark will often safeguard against another company using it.[3]

Patents are similar to Copyrights and Trademarks but protect a person's invention rather than they're literary accomplishments or company logos. Patents are usually granted for a 20 year period and legally authorize the sole rights of an individual to manufacture or produce that which s/he invented. Often it is a unique product but it can also be a unique process such as the Born-Haber Cycle.[4]


do YOU have computer ethics?

The general definition of the word "ethics" defines the elements important to humans' morals. Ethics could be referred to as specific values, standards, rules, and agreements. For example, not being involved in software piracy is a matter of ethics. Computer ethics is a set of morals that regulate the use of computers. It is important for computer users to be aware of the ethical use of copyrighted material, the ethical use of resources and information, and ethical use of school, company, and employee information.[5] Common issues of computer ethics are the following: privacy concerns, how computer affects society, and intellectual property rights. It is a very common and easy practice to burn a CD or movie for a friend. However, another option would be to tell the friend to buy the CD or movie as an ethical alternative. The privacy of another person is also an ethical issue of today. People's information is easily accessible through the computer; the ethical solution would be to not access another person's private information unless given permission. Ethics certainly guide our behavior, and it is the source of the acts we will and will not part take in.[6]

Film Piracy[edit]

FBI Anti-Piracy Warning Seal

The illegal copying and distribution of movies and TV shows is called film piracy. The rate of which people commit film piracy has been growing exponentially since 2004. This is most likely due to the fact that online peer-to-peer file sharing has become a lot easier.[7] According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), film piracy causes an estimated loss of $18 billion dollars per year worldwide. This statistic is estimated because the MPAA has to determine how many people would have actually watched the film if it weren’t for free, or at a discounted price. Ever since 2004, authorities have been pushing to reduce film piracy. In 2005 the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act was put into place. This act makes recording a movie in a theatre illegal in the United States. Besides laws, there have also been things like visual FBI Anti-Piracy Warning Seal’s added to DVD’s. This seal is shown when the DVD is played, and before the actual movie starts. However, this doesn’t always effectively stop a pirate from stealing the movie.[8] There are many software programs used by authorities and private companies to prevent the illegal trade of pirated movies. This software is able to monitor websites that host peer-to-peer file trading. If a company’s film is being misused over the internet, the software is capable of sending infringement notices and collecting important data. All of this information could be used to build a court case against the violator.[9]

Computer Hoaxes and Digital Manipulation[edit]

Example of a photo that has been digitally manipulated (edited)

A computer hoax, or virus hoax, is an inaccurate statement or story spread through computers, typically through am email. Usually the email warns the user about a virus or worm and instructs the user to forward the message (which spreads the virus) or recommends that the receivers download an infected file attachment. These virus hoaxes can often be distinguished by their lofty and enticing wording or by claims that sound formal and authorized. These types of emails use people’s fear of the internet to manipulate their actions and thus spread a virus or computer hoax; many consider these fake emails to be worms in and of themselves because of this. [10]

Digital Manipulation is editing or altering any type of digital content. The most commonly thought of is photo-shop, which is editing an image so that it has little to no resemblance of the original image. This can be anything from adjusting the “exposure” or a photo or using an airbrush tool, to combing two photos to make one or adding portions that were not in the original (such as a large moon covering half the sky behind the Chicago skyline). [11] But digital manipulation also includes altering text, music, movies, or voice interviews. The main issue when it comes to ethics in digital manipulation is that copyrights cannot be violated and the original digital information cannot be misused or misinterpreted. Also, intentions and purpose are key in deciding “how far is to far” when it comes to photo-shop or other editing methods. [12]

Computers and Your Health[edit]

Physical Health[edit]

Hard at work in the Tampabay Social Media Center. I was able to finally meet some tweeps!.jpg

There are some physical problems that can be caused by computer use such as eyestrain, blurred vision, fatigue, headaches, backaches, and wrist and finger pain. One kind of health problem that occurs is repetitive stress injuries, which is when doing the same thing over and over causes hand, wrist, shoulder, or neck pain. Using the keyboard and the mouse can cause repetitive stress injuries. One repetitive stress injury that is related to repetitive finger movement is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a painful condition of the hands and wrists. [13] Another repetitive stress injury is related with typing on the smaller keyboards of mobile devices and this is called DeQuervain’s tendonitis. There can also be many eye problems caused by looking at a computer screen for too long. Another concern is hearing loss because many portable media devices can be turned up too loud and cause hearing problems. There is also a concern with radiation that can be emitted from wireless devices. There are ways to avoid these physical health problems caused by computers. One way is to make sure that you are comfortable while at the computer and that you use a good chair that will be supportive for your back and neck. It is also important to just be aware of these possible physical health risks caused by computers because it is something that is often overlooked. [14]

Emotional Health[edit]


Because of our fast growth and use of technology there are many positive advantages of using computers and much more; however, in recent years emotional health has become an important factor with the use of computers and technology. The use of computers in general can cause much stress and anxiety for workers in different fields today. When computers were first introduced to the working field, secretaries had to learn how to change from a typewriter to a keyboard. Many people now widely understand the use of computers, but the downfall is keeping up with the changing technology. [15] Every few years a new system, computer design, etc. are updated and sent out to the market. This makes operating a company more difficult when programs and systems need to be updated. Because the Internet can be accessed 24/7 the stress of being “on-call” is worrisome to many workers. They worry they do not have enough down time to themselves, after they come home from work that day. In the U.S. information is right at citizens’ fingertips, which can sometimes create an information overload. There is always news to be caught up with, as well as catching up with email, text messages, and social media as well. Many can become exhausted from being on the computer (or cell phone) too much. This is called burnout which is long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work. [16] A more common type of “emotional health” deals with teenagers who have a technology addiction. Social media plays a huge role in this now today. [17]

Technology Access[edit]

The U.S. Digital Divide[edit]

Helping each other understand and use the Internet builds strong bridges for humanity

Though the exact percentage is argued over by the experts, we can be happy to know that in the United States the digital divide continues to shrink. About 80% of the population of the United States uses the Internet. They use the Internet at school, work, home, and everywhere else. It's rare to find a Mcdonalds, one of the lowest common denominator eating establishments, that doesn't have a Wi-Fi connection. Computers and Internet access are always getting cheaper, which is great news because staying connected to the world is such an important quality. We stay alive and thrive through building relationships of all different kinds and the Internet is a powerful means of obtaining these relationships. Not only that, but most jobs today require the use of the Internet in one way or another. Due to the importance of the Internet however, ideally the statistic of users in the United States would be closer to 99%. According to Forbes, there are several reasons why some people have never used the Internet or don't use it very often. The biggest percentage of them said they don't want or need to go online, because they're either too busy or because they think the Internet is a waste of time. A slightly smaller number of them said it is difficult or frustrating to go online, either because they don't understand or are physically unable.[18] Ultimately, the importance of the Internet is understood the world over, meaning that the digital divide in the U.S. will continue to shrink so our country can stay competitive with Europe and Asia especially.

Global Digital Divide[edit]


The Global digital divide is an issue that our world seems to be facing more and more as time goes on. Like the US Digital divide, it is a comparison of groups of people with access to technology but on a global scale instead of a country scale. The problem arrises when one country's people has more access to technology and /or communications than another country. Most developed countries have a majority of their population with some access to technology, however it seems that many developing countries lack the technological accessibility that the others have. The largest problem caused by this is the lack of education. The internet today is such a source of information that one could potentially gain their entire college degree while hardly ever stepping foot in a classroom. Many people around the world lack the opportunity to gain an education because of their lack of access to the internet and other technology that would help them to learn things at a faster, easier, or more efficient rate. The internet has so many uses: school courses, communication, language tutoring, translations, calculations, and so many more. [19]

More on the Digital Divide[edit]

Global Digital Divide1

The concept that is called the digital divide is the reality that technology, specifically computers and the Internet, is not available to all individuals. The digital divide is thought to be based on physical access to computers, Internet, and related technology. Some people consider the people that have access to computers and the Internet but do not understand how to use it are also part of the category of people that do not have true access to digital technology. One article explains that there are multiple dimensions to the digital divide. It claims the difference in not necessarily determined by the access to the Internet, but by access to ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) and to Media that the different segments of society can use. Other factors that should be considered are the quality of connection to the Internet and the cost of access to the Internet. Researchers also report that disadvantages can take such forms as lower-performance computers, lower-quality or high price connections, difficulty of obtaining technical assistance, and lower access to subscription-based contents.[20] The reason that the digital gap is a concern for society is that information and communication technologies are vital to quality civic life. One article explains that access to new technology splits clearly along socio-economic class lines. According to U.S. census data, more than 30 million homes have no broadband access, most of them concentrate in some of the poorest parts of the country. According to another survey 84% of the teachers surveyed felt that today’s digital gap is leading to greater disparities between affluent and disadvantaged schools.[21] Technology can inform people by creating mutual understanding about different cultures and societies; technology also plays a part in education and governmental reform. By lessening the digital gap economic equality, social mobility, and economic growth will be more readily available.

Assistive Technology[edit]

Toby Churchill shown with assistive technology

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires companies with more than 15 employees to make reasonable accommodations for anyone that has known limitations. Nowadays, there is hardware and software specifically designed to aid individuals with physical disabilities. The most common technology that has been introduced is used to help those who are visually impaired or hard of hearing. There are various input devices available today to assist users communicate, usually on the computer. Braille or large-print keyboards, one-handed keyboards, switches, eye tracking systems, pointing devices, and voice input devices are all used today. In addition to the various input devices, there are output systems as well. The most common one is a screen reader that can read text information for the blind. There are also printers that can print in Braille instead of the conventional ink. Assistive technology is not always the best option, however. Often times it can be too expensive for the individual and not match their exact needs. [22] Devices should be researched and tried out before purchasing. Training for these devices also needs to be taken into consideration. For example, what if this technology stops working for the user?

Environmental Issues[edit]

Green Computing[edit]

The color Green...

This refers to the use of computers in an environmentally friendly manner, but computing is not currently as environmental friendly. According to the guide to greener electronics only 2 out of 18 of the Pc are considered on the green rating. The reason is because companies are subjected to make energy and hence cost saving in the face of rising electricity prices. One of the activates that could help environmental savings is existing hardware which can be in place of it there are software’s called LittleGreenGenie. This software permit certain individuals to measure reduce and carbon offset from computer use. Its stats that it takes about 1.8 tons of chemicals, fossil fuels and water to produce a typical desktop computer and there’s about one billion PCs sold. Although putting a computer on standby or sleep mode will save a lot of power, people are unaware that shutting down a computer doesn't completely turn it off because the computer power supply will remain physically switched on. This leads the motherboard still partially on waiting for a signal to boot up again. The following are certain tasks that can be beneficial in reducing energy consumption which are lower power hard drive, visualization, cloud computing, energy effecting coding, improved repair, re-use recycling and disposable and less pollutant manufacture. [23] [24]

Solar Power[edit]

Solar Panel

Instead of reducing energy consumption and electricity costs, another option is to use solar power. Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic cells. These cells can be packaged into a frame, and a frame into an array, based on how much solar power is needed for the building or area. The process has slowly become cheaper due to our increase in technology and knowledge of solar power. As of right now, we are considered to be in our third generation of solar power because of our use of new materials like nanotubes, silicon wires, and solar inks. This is a step up from the first generation, which used solely silicon as a material, and then the second generation, which used thin-film solar panels. As the capability of solar power becomes cheaper, more products are incorporating solar power as a power source. Examples of this are the solar powered phone charger and solar powered calculator. Solar powered calculators have been around for a while because calculators do not require much energy, so the solar panel is very small and therefore cheap. The solar powered charger has come out more recently because the newer flexible technology made it feasible to produce. Solar power has been a greener way to consume energy.[25]

Recycling of Computers and Other Electronics[edit]

Find a recycling center that accepts electronics

Given the reliance of the commercial world on computer technology it is easy to overlook the inherent unsustainability of computer production. Computers have become embedded in contemporary culture and play a crucial role in the global economy, but as the industrialized world continues to degrade the environment one must become aware of the negative impacts of computer use and consequently work with possible ways to reduce them. The Chicago Recycling Coalition states that, on average, 240 kg of fossil fuels are consumed in the process of producing a desktop PC.[26] In a time when fossil fuel supplies are decreasing at an alarming rate it is important now more than ever to be conscious of consumer decisions. The issue of fossil fuels aside, computers contain arsenic and mercury while computer monitors can contain several pounds of lead. This is one reason why simply disposing computers into landfills is problematic. Instead, the Chicago Recycling Coalition advises consumers to donate computers to various organizations and charities, give older computers to family and friends who need them, and find locations that offer recycling services. The EPA provides a utility that helps consumers and manufacturers know where they can donate or recycle their electronics.[27] Mobile devices, PCs and TVs make up the “Electronic Devices” category, and after selecting a device one can choose a company to see what services are offered.

Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005[edit]

Movie Copyright Laws

There’s no question that copyright laws are pushed to the side when it comes to copying illegal things such as movies, music, and videos. People act as if there is nothing to risk, and it does not matter if you break the law. However, the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, which was passed in 2005, made these offenses just a little bit more serious. The law worked to make three offenses more defined and punishable than they were before. First, it made sure that no one was allowed to bring a camcorder into a movie and record it. This works to stop people from selling movies that they do not have legal copyrights to. Second, it worked to make sure that there was no illegal prerelease of movies that had not yet been released to the public. The act actually states that this offense is punishable by a large fine or even time in jail. Finally, it allowed certain technology to be installed into DVD players that permits the user to automatically skip or mute entire portions of a DVD, allowing them to get passed crude, violent, or inappropriate parts that they would not have wanted to watch. Basically, the law just worked to reinforce previous copyright laws that seemed to be pushed aside without users giving them any consideration. [28]


Terms and Definitions [29]

assistive technology Hardware and software specifically designed for use by individuals with physical disabilities.

burnout A state of fatigue or frustration usually brought on by overwork.

business ethics Standards of moral conduct that guide a business’s policies, decisions, and actions.

carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) A painful and crippling condition affecting the hands and wrist that can be caused by computer use.

code of conduct A policy, often for a school or business, that specifies allowable use of resources, such as computers and other equipment.

code of ethics A policy, often for an organization or industry, that specifies overall moral guidelines adopted by that organization or industry.

computer ethics Standards of moral conduct as they relate to computer use.

computer hoax An inaccurate statement or story spread through the use of computers.

copyright The legal right to sell, publish, or distribute an original artistic or literary work; it is held by the creator of a work as soon as it exists in physical form.

cybersquatting The act of registering a domain name with the intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.

DeQuervain’s tendonitis A condition in which the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist are swollen and irritated.

digital divide The gap between those who have access to technology and those who do not.

digital manipulation The alteration of digital content, usually text or photographs. digital rights management (DRM) software Software used to protect and manage the rights of creators of digital content, such as art, music, photographs, and movies.

digital watermark A subtle alteration of digital content that is not noticeable when the work is viewed or played but that identifies the copyright holder.

docking station A device designed to easily connect a portable computer to conventional hardware, such as a keyboard, mouse, monitor, and printer.

eco-label A certification, usually by a government agency, that identifies a device as meeting minimal environmental performance specifications.

ENERGY STAR A program developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to encourage the development of energy-saving devices.

ergonomic hardware Hardware, typically an input or output device, that is designed to be more ergonomically correct than its nonergonomic counterpart.

ergonomics The science of fitting a work environment to the people who work there.

ethics Overall standards of moral conduct.

etrash Electronic trash or waste, such as discarded computer components.

green computing The use of computers in an environmentally friendly manner.

intellectual property rights The legal rights to which creators of original creative works (such as artistic or literary works, inventions, corporate logos, and more) are entitled.

Internet addiction The problem of overusing, or being unable to stop using, the Internet.

notebook stand A device that elevates the display of a notebook or tablet computer to a better viewing height; can contain USB ports to connect additional hardware.

patent A form of protection for an invention that can be granted by the government; gives exclusive rights of an invention to its inventor for 20 years.

plagiarism' Presenting someone else’s work as your own.

repetitive stress injury (RSI) A type of injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, that is caused by performing the same physical movements over and over again.

trademark A word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies goods or services.


True or False

1. All unethical acts are illegal.

2. Changing the background behind a television newscaster to make it appear that he or she is reporting on location instead of from inside the television studio would be an example of digital manipulation.

3. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by using a computer keyboard.

4. As computer use has become more common, the potential for stress related to computer use has decreased.

5. Assistive technology is hardware and software designed to help all beginning computer users learn how to use a computer.

6. A software program would be protected by copyrightlaw, while a corporate logo would be protected by trademark law.

7. Turning in a copy of a poem you found on a Web site as your original composition for a poetry class assignment is an example of plagiarism.

8. Registering the domain name to profit from it would be an act of cybersquatting.

9. The digital divide can be used to describe discrepancies in access to technology by individuals within a country, as well as to compare access from country to country.

10. Match each term to its description or example, and write the corresponding number in the blank to the left of each description or example.

A. What the symbol © stands for.

B. Can vary from another's depending on his or her values, culture, and so forth.

C. A warning about a nonexistent virus spread via e-mail.

D. A subtle alteration of digital content that identifies the copyright holder.

i. Computer hoax

ii. Copyright

iii. Digital watermark

iv. Ethics

Answers [30]

1. False

2. True

3. True

4. False

5. False

6. copyright; trademark

7. plagiarism

8. cybersquatting

9. digital divide

10. A. ii. B. iv. C. i. D. iii.

  9. Understanding Computers 14th Ed. by Deborah Morley & Charles Parker