Sunday, September 9, 2012

How Deep Does the Rabbit Hole Go?

How deep does the rabbit hole go?

This week a classmate invited me to access some study materials on dropbox. So I went to the Student Government Association sponsored site and I found pdf files of quite a few of our textbooks. Now, I'm not an ethicist or lawyer by trade, but I'm pretty sure it's illegal and immoral to download or distribute digital files to avoid paying for them, especially because the copyright notice printed on the inside cover states- 

All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a data base or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Some of the titles I found there include the following:

First Aid - $45
BRS Physiology - $25
Bates Guide to Physical Exam - $100
Rapid Interpretation of EKGs - $30
Katzung Pharmacology - $45
Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy - $55
Purve's Neuroscience - $150
Thieme Atlas of Anatomy - $180
BRS Gross Anatomy - $33
BRS Microbiology and Immunology - $25
Gray's Anatomy - $100
Lippincott's Biochemistry - $50
Lippincott's Immunology - $50
Practical Guide to the Care of the Medical Patient - $40
Review of Medical Microbiology and Immunology - $45
The Developing Human - $65
Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment - $65
Andreoli and Carpenter - Essentials of Medicine - $70
Basic and Clinical Biostatistics - $55
Grant's Dissector - $35
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine - $180
Medical Physiology - $105
Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease - $105

I believe that people are basically good and that we know what is right and what is wrong. In an effort to stimulate thought and discussion I posted on the class facebook page a question: Is there an ethically defensible reason to have copyrighted material on the dropbox? The responses I got ranged from a link to the tuition payment schedule to "I want a unicorn" to  "Everything should be free and there should be no money" to "Utilitarianism - I would never buy these books since they are too expensive but the knowledge contained in them might help me save a life one day. 1 life > 135.99$ to a publisher." 

One guy even posted, "In Plato's Republic, Socrates tells a story about a guy named Gyges who finds a magic ring of invisibility (yes, LOTR is based off of this). Gyges murders the king to marry the queen while being praised as a hero, and he believes it's the most rational way to live--if you can do bad and get away with it, why not? While we could 'share' books without the authorities being none the wiser, Socrates would say that doing so would plant malevolence in the soul which would catch up to us in this life or the next, as lack of virtue is essentially akin to weakness, a chink in the city wall of the spirit! If you don't believe it will catch up to you in this life and deny the existence of Tartarus as the delusional ramblings of some guy Socrates calls Er, why not put on the power ring by clandestinely sharing copyrighted materials?"

1 comment:

  1. That is really sketchy that all those books are on a site sponsored by the student government association. This is something that I would suspect might get some people in actual trouble. If the administration is OK with directly/indirectly hosting these types of files, that's an embarrassment to the institution.