Software &

the Internet


At first glance, software and the Internet seem greatly separate entities. True, the systems that allow us to fully utilize the Internet as a powerful tool use software to do this. However, how can the simple use of the Internet and its software even bring up ethical questions?

Just as in many other areas, including music, the Internet has made it easier to violate certain ethical principles not necessarily specific to software. The Internet itself does not violate any of these principles, nor is it necessary to do so in order to fully utilize the power of the Internet. What the Internet does, however, is make it easier for a much greater number of individuals to violate basic ethical principles. It also has brought about new situations that walk a hard to distinguish line between ethical and non-ethical Internet practice.

Copying and distribution

For more background on copyright law regarding software and other subjects, visit:

Open Source

For more background on open source software, visit:

Trial Software

It is sometimes difficult to determine whether or not practices are unethical while operating on the Internet, but in reality, the Internet is a part of the physical world, not some realm of its own, and the same principles apply. Practices that are unethical off the Internet are not made ethical on the Internet because of the ease of the practice.


This page is the creation of

Randy Chamberlin

April Hennebeck

with thanks to the other members of the class for their input