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Ethical Issues At A Glance

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Are the significant advances in technology making business today unethical? Technological innovations have clearly changed the face of commerce. Communication, entertainment, and routine daily activities have been altered by the mounting technology era. Recently, theft via technology has reached epidemic proportions. Where do legal restrictions draw the line? Several issues concerning the extent of technology trouble both the legal environment and consumers.

Potential investors hesitate to pour their money and savings into such an unsure, unpredictable venue. The legal atmosphere is not definite, leaving many potential technological investments prone to lawsuits. Movie and music companies are particularly likely to request the intervention of the courts. Such cases as Napster paved the way of certainty; however, each case is so different and has not been explored yet. Many feel that the risks are simply too high. These uneasy feelings hurt the investment market for innovations.

Liabilities abound, forcing the courts to set new standards. Companies are developing and marketing items that almost ask users to partake in illegal activity. Some argue that companies who generate products or software that are designed in which they can easily be misused should be held liable--especially if the product could have been designed to reduce the risk of exploitation. For example, many believe sites should be closed if the organization is aware that users are abusing the site's original purpose. Many corporations debate that not all potential infringements can be predicted beforehand. They claim that our ever-changing society is too erratic to guess the ways in which consumers may attempt to misuse products. If made law, though, guidelines would be nearly impossible--hence, placing all power in the hands of content industries.

The many uncertainties and possible liabilities could hinder inventors from developing new products. Oftentimes,



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