Category Archives: Legal ethics

Teenagers and the Ethics of Music File Sharing

gavi eskin asked:

My sixteen year old daughter is a typical teenager – sometimes she’s rude and arrogant, but most times she’s just asleep or grooming herself- If only she worked at math like she works on her hair.  Like mostteens she loves music. I have tried to broaden her appreciation of different genres by submitting her to music she wouldn’t normally listen to. I’ve had some success with Billy holiday and Louis Armstrong and even some classics like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

As well as musical appreciation I have also tried to give her an appreciation of ethical behaviour, and even though she exhibits none of her own, I think she gets the concept on the whole. Yet when it comesto downloading and file sharing, it all falls apart, after all ‘sharing is caring’ – what can you say to that? I tell her that she wouldn’t steal a CD from a friend. She tells me no but she would borrow one. I don’t reply because I can’t even remember if that’s legal or not. The way she sees it is that she’s simply borrowing music from other peoples files and not making a CD, and again I don’t know if that’s legal or not.

Now I’m trying to tell my kids to behave ethically but I cannot understand the technology and the legal implications. I’m beginning to appreciate the annoying piracy ads on DVD’s – at least you know where you stand. It’s hard to keep up with the changing technology and now it seems to be changing again. Now we have so called legal free download sites.

I know I’m stretching things when I ask my sixteen year old if she’s worried about artists maintaining their artistic integrity if they are being paid not for their work but instead for selling ad space on the internet. A little, she admits, well that’s something I think. But then she continues I don’t really care; I just want to relax and listen to some music. What about the message in the music? But I’ve already lost this one, and I don’t even understand the argument myself.

Not only that but I feel like such a hypocrite having enjoyed a few downloaded movies with the kids – it seemed too innocent at the time. OK I concede, let’s just try stick to the legal download sites, at least to avoid viruses.

Purpose of Ethics in a Business Environment

Laura Erickson asked:

Ethics can be defined as a set of moral values or principles that consist of a moral duty and obligation. In the business setting they are the rules or standards which govern the conduct of employees. This code of conduct encourages public confidence in the products and services of the company. A profession is formed on the basis of a generally accepted body of knowledge, a standard of achievement and code of ethics that is strictly enforced. A code of ethics is said to be a crucial element in the foundation of a profession. The three major accounting professional organizations follow an ethics code.

Ethics are especially important in the work of a management accountant so they have the right elements and are able to serve their management efficiently. The behavior of a management accountant is governed by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) Code of Ethics. When this code of ethics is followed a trusting relationship develops so the work of the accountants is able to be relied upon and it also enhances their professionalism. The four main standards that appear on the code of ethics are competence, credibility, confidentiality and integrity. The standard of competence requires that every member must maintain a high level of professionalism by continuing to develop their skills and knowledge, be able to perform their duties by still abiding by relevant laws and regulations. Also to provide supportive decisions and other information that is accurate and timely and lastly to be able to recognize any limitations or constraints that relate to the success o an activity. Credibility refers to each member being able to communicate information objectively and make sure that they disclose all relevant information and delays of deficiencies that have an effect on the organization or its operations. The concept of confidentiality refers to each member of the organization keeping all personal information discrete and secret unless it is necessary that the information is disclosed. All parties involved must be aware and comply to the confidential policy. It is also assumed that under this standard each member will refrain from using information that is considered confidential to have an illegal advantage or promote unethical activities. The last standard in the code of ethics is integrity. Integrity refers to the ability to adhere to moral and ethical principles and have regular communication to avoid conflicts of interest. Also acting with integrity includes refraining and abstaining from engagement in any activity that with discredit the company or be deemed as unethical. 

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) insures that all members of their organization should always behave ethically. Each member is obligated to commit to practices that are both ethical and professional. Their ethical principles include: Honesty, Fairness, Objectivity and Responsibility. Everyone has their own knowledge of honesty and what it means to be honest. Being truthful and sincere is said to be acting honestly and it will help in an organization if everyone possesses those qualities. Fairness in accounting is defined as a company’s financial statements being presents in an understandable, and comprehensive way to not favor one party over another. Objectivity refers to not acting based on personal feelings or prejudice and being unbiased. Responsibility is an obligation or duty to do things that you feel is right. In a business environment these are all key principles that each person must follow and uphold in order to maintain some sort of ethical standard to work and live by. Every member should not only abide by them but also encourage others in their organization to do the same; failure to comply can result in strong discipline.

Organizations can have as many rules and regulations they want when it comes down to acting ethical and how to punish those who don’t but sometimes conflicts do arise that can’t be handled just by your organization’s policies. In situations like these other courses of action must be applied and taken into consideration. To resolve ethical conflicts you should first talk to your supervisor and discuss the situation with them. If this doesn’t help to resolve the conflict it would be a good idea to keep moving up the chain of management until an immediate answer is found that would help to resolve the problem. Another option would be to discuss your possible outcomes to the situation with an IMA counselor to get a better idea of what your options are. To take it one step further you could also contact your attorney to legal obligations and rights that may be involved in the conflict of ethics.

There are always going to be ethical issues that arise but having a good ethics code within your organization there is a high chance that conflicts can be resolved. It is necessary that the ethics code be enforced and if someone is acting unethically or not abiding by the code that they person should face serious consequences. Ethics provide the foundation for which a civilized society can exist and therefore they are a key element in the success of all business and accounting professions.

Download Free Online Movies – The Ethics

Peter Nisbet asked:

It is possible to download free online movies legally, with or without p2p file sharing software. It is not the peer to peer networks that are illegal but the way they are used, and it unfair to blame the tool and not the user.

It is not only downloading free online movies that we are discussing here, but also so-called free music downloads and video game downloads. Here we shall not only be looking at P2P software services and how they are used illegally and the ethics of free online music and movie file sharing, but also how to download movies and music legally.

A. P2P File Sharing Software

Peer to peer file sharing software allows users to connect to specific file formats on the hard drives of other members of the P2P network that are connected to the network at the same time. You can use one of the free open source P2P file sharing networks such as Gnutella directly, though most prefer to do so through a paid membership system that offers some benefits over the raw option, including accelerated music and free movie downloading speeds, enhanced file storage and retrieval, more reliable downloads, absence of dangerous malware, such as adware and spyware, and connection to more sources.

To locate a free movie, music track or game to download, you simply enter the name of the movie, track, artist or even genre and you will receive a list of what is currently available on the network, the quality of the reproduction, the file format, and how many sources are currently available online from which to download. The more sources for each track or movie the better. Click on your choice, choose the destination folder and the download starts. It is very easy to use.

You will download free online movies simultaneously from all sources (hard disks or other storage devices) offering your choice of free movie download (or music track or free game). The more there are then generally the shorter the download time.

B. Download Free Online Movies Legally

Free movie downloads (or music or video game downloads) are legal if the movies or entertainment files are not copyrighted. There are many public domain and non-copyrighted files available online that you can find using a simple internet search using your favorite search engine. You can legally download as many such online movies or music tracks as want.

Many new movie-makers that want their work publicized sometimes offer their work copyright-free, as do many people who make home movies. The same is true of new bands and singers that want to build up a fan base before releasing their work commercially, or that want to advertise a new album by offering free music tracks from it. Others might release a beta version of a new game on a P2P file sharing network to get any bugs sorted and also a sense of how well received the idea or concept of the game might be.

In other words, free legal movie downloads, free online music downloads and legal free online games provide a benefit for both the originators and the users of such free entertainment files. The problem lies in the illegal downloading of copyrighted work.

C. Illegal P2P File Sharing

Peer to peer file sharing becomes illegal when the files being shared are under copyright. This applies to all current chart hits and online movie blockbusters, new games and most commercial software that is not open source or in the public domain. Most work produced over the past 50 years is liable to be copyright protected, although much of it is also copyright-free, and can be downloaded. A good rule of thumb is if you are unsure, and then don’t download it. Unfortunately most people download free online movies illegally.

A good membership P2P file sharing network should inform you if you are attempting to download free online movies or music that requires a license to download – another advantage of using a paid peer to peer network. It is unfair to condemn the software or the P2P network because of its misuse – the software is not illegal and neither is its use: it is the way that most people use it that is illegal. But should it be?

D The Ethics of P2P File Sharing and Illegal and Legal Movie Downloads

Who are movie and pop stars who openly use drugs, trash hotels and blatantly and publicly break other laws and get away with it to complain when kids break the law by copying one of their tracks or movies? The movie and music industry would be better spending their time putting their own house in order than chasing high school kids and fining their moms for downloading free movies or music tracks.

However, although that is my opinion, there are circumstances where those that download free online movies illegally can damage the entertainment industry. It is the professional movie, music and video game pirates that use P2P file sharing software to download entertainment files and copy them to portable storage devices such as CDs and DVDs by the hundreds of thousands for sale that are causing the real problem, and it is they that should be vigorously pursued, not the kids.

A major problem with this is that a large number of these pros are Asian, and it is not possible to prosecute these people in their own countries. So where does that leave us? Is it ethical to prosecute and give massive fines to people breaching copyright using P2P networks while being unable to touch those causing most of the damage? Is it right to fine a kid for copying a track from an album, who then goes on to purchase that album or even to buy a ticket for the live concert because they liked what they heard or saw?

Many of the whingers owe part of their success to illegal music downloads, because it was partially through these that they came into public prominence. The ethics of P2P free movie downloads and illegal music downloads are not as clear-cut and unarguable as those mooting them might have us believe, although we are not yet in a situation where anything other than legal movie downloads and paid music file sharing can be justified.

P2P file sharing networks are not all bad, however, and in a free world should never be made illegal – only used properly and intelligently by artistes, designers and the public alike. One day we will be able to legally download free online movies and music that has been specifically produced for promotional and testing purposes, and this shall become a common marketing and testing technique for new film and music genres, and new video game ideas.

Ethics and Counselling Applications

Pedro Gondim asked:

“Ethics (from Greek – meaning “custom”) is the branch of axiology, one of the four major branches of philosophy, which attempts to understand the nature of morality; to distinguish that which is right from that which is wrong. The Western tradition of ethics is sometimes called ‘moral philosophy'”. (WIKIPEDIA).

The origins of ethics are related to the introduction of moral behaviour in early societies. The application of concepts such as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, and the definition of these concepts in different environments, induced the need for a formal approach to social behaviour – an attempt to create commonality and organisation in a society. In this context, codes of behavior were created, and different forms of behaviour enforcement adopted.

As societies developed, and increasing importance was placed in structural thinking – such as the advent of sciences – meta-ethics became an eminent topic of discussion. Meta-ethics refers to the investigation of ethical statements, an actual analysis of ethics itself. Names such as Hobbes, Kant and Nietzsche were prominent in this period.

Nowadays, ethics is still a main topic of discussion. As societies evolve, the relationships between individuals become more complex, and so do the etiquettes and codes of conduct. The development of business relationships has raised many ethical dilemmas, and ethical counselling is one of them.

Ethical Counselling

Because counselling is not a regulated profession in many countries (including Australia), the use of ethical standards is a method of guiding the quality of the services provided by counsellors, the quality of training provided to counsellors, and of protecting clients.

These standards provide conduct guidelines for professionals and are an effective way support many counsellors lacking experience or knowledge of the industry. It also serves the purpose of structuring the counselling industry, providing common professional descriptions, definitions and service boundaries according to each type of counsellor.

There is a wide range of issues comprising the field of ethical counselling – which are also part of common guidelines for the practice of therapy. According to Daniluk and Haverkamp (1993), “the main ethical framework referred to in many discussions of therapy is one based on the concepts of autonomy, fidelity, justice, beneficence, non-maleficence and self interest”. In this context, we devise several ‘problem areas’ in ethical counselling:

Law and Counselling

The need for professionalisation has created a common link between ethical behaviour and legal conduct in the therapy fields. Legislation was provided to primarily protect clients from misguidance, and ultimately to provide guidelines for the profession. However, as cited previously, in most countries ethical conduct in counselling is not yet part of the legal framework – which outlines the importance of professional and industry peak associations in providing guidelines and codes of conduct for affiliated professionals.

The Australian Counselling Association is one industry association in Australia that provides ethical guidelines and a code of conduct for counsellors. The ACA’s Code of Ethics and Code of Practice are part of the Code of Conduct – which can be accessed from their website at www.theaca.net.au/docs/code_conduct.pdf. An excerpt from this Code is:

Counsellors will:

– Offer a non-judgemental professional service, free from discrimination, honouring the individuality of the client.

– Establish the helping relationship in order to maintain the integrity and empowerment of the client without offering advice.

– Be committed to ongoing personal and professional development.

Confidentiality

This area is closely linked with the legal issues in counselling therapy. Confidentiality plays a major role in defining the communication between a counsellor and a client, bearing in mind that trust is one of the backbones of a therapeutic relationship. Albeit confidentiality is a key component of the relationship, it is also one of the leading causes of ethical dilemmas for counsellors. Situations which may put the client – or other individuals – in danger usually require the counsellor to make difficult decisions in regards to breaching confidentiality. In many instances, the actual breach is a legal requirement as it may incur the prevention of a crime against the state, or another person.

Other predominant issues such as consultancy with supervisors or colleagues; definition of the type of confidentiality to be used (absolute or relative) prior to the counselling relationship; and session record-keeping, must be considered by therapists when practicing professional counselling.

Bad Practice

The issues of privacy and power in a counselling session can be prejudicial in terms of unethical practice. The private nature of a counselling session leaves a ‘gap for unsupervised practice’, and therefore it is quite difficult to be assessed. For instance, fairly recent explorations of unethical practice in therapy have shown the emerging problem of sexual abuse of clients. This issue is augmented by the power relationship between client and counsellor, in which the therapist could take advantage of their position of power to practice unethical behaviour.

Training and Professional Recognition (Australian Industry)

As cited before, counselling is not regulated in most countries. In order to standardise the industry, and ensure that counsellors have the necessary skills to professionally practice, training and recognition must be accentuated. In Australia, the ACA plays a role in coordinating industry efforts, providing information to the public and maintaining records of counsellors in practice.

That system protects clients from bad practice, and supports training standards for organisations that provide counsellor training. The Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors, as an example, is recognised by the ACA – which means that AIPC and the Diploma of Professional Counselling complies with industry standards defined by this peak organisation in regards to training standards for counsellors.

Safety and Negligence

These concepts are utmost concerns of counsellors in practice. A counsellor-client relationship is a very delicate encounter of an individual seeking help, and a professional providing advice. Primarily, it is the counsellor’s responsibility to provide a safe environment for the counselling session – particularly because physical and psychological safety is a premise for the counselling therapy to succeed. Negligence is closely related to the concepts of breach of confidentiality and safety. Observing principles for duty of care is part of ethical behaviour in counselling.

Complying with ethical guidelines is one of the most important aspects of being a professional counsellor. Creating awareness in both counsellor and clients of the boundaries of the services provided will lead to a better development of the profession, and overall improvement of industry standards. Counsellors are responsible for keeping up-to-date with professional codes of ethics, confidentiality guidelines, and other relevant information.

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Objectivity and Confidentiality as Ima Ethical Standards

Jennifer Burns asked:

Objectivity is another core accounting principle. Objectivity refers to unbiased reporting of clients’ financial information. Even though at times accountants may be pressured by clients, objectivity is essential in correct reporting of financial data for stakeholder decisions. As an educational institution can be regarded as that of a profit organization, it is important for students to remain unbiased in making own opinions about the educational processes. Aside from this, when deciding on professional qualities of tutors and evaluating the peer work working in groups, it is important not to mix own feelings, attitudes, and prejudice with professional qualities and work requirements attributed to an individual. Only when doing so, a student can expect similar behavior in return, which establishes the basic conditions for operations of an educational institution.

In accounting, confidentiality of client’s or employer’s affairs can be overridden only when legal, ethical, or professional requirements call for disclosure of information. In academic community, the issue is less complex, as it cannot be penalized legally except for, perhaps, by poor reputation. Still, it is important to make a distinction about information that can be made public and the one that should remain private, for example – academic performance of students. In order to ensure equality of opportunities and students’ right for privacy, the decision whether to reveal certain information or not should be left to a student.

To sum up, the four IMA standards, competence, integrity, objectivity, and confidentiality are the base not only for accounting practice, but they are the backbone of every democratic institution. Even though there is a difference in consequences realizing from inability to follow the principles in academic and professional spheres, it is only due to nature of the industry itself. In accounting practice IMA standards must be followed because of possible administrative penalties, whereas in educational institution they remain to be a matter of ethics without fear being employed as a stimulator. Nevertheless, the four principles should be applied, as they both ensure good performance of an educational institution and have a positive impact on students’ individuality, skills, and professional qualities.