Ideas, Linked; Ideals, Inked.

Free Whoppers… with RIAA and MPAA on the Side

You may have seen this soon-to-be-defunct technique, but the comments really pose some interesting questions.

I don’t doubt that Burger King will either change or eiminate the system. But speaking to the theft question. Th argument over whether it’s theft or not is certainly interesting. But you can do it to death. This isn’t clearly a moral issue, as one would hope (RIAA and MPAA, this applies to you all).

Once can argue that, as one commenter notes, given the absurd margins most large corporations make, they are actually stealing from you. On the other hand, as another commenter points out, just because someone leaves his/her window open doesn’t mean you are invited to take money from the house. Both valid points, I think.

The first, unfortunately, is easier to dismiss by taking it to the extreme. If one buys land today, does that mean the person is stealing from Native Americans, because the land was ultimately stolen from them? I say yes. BUT, we cannot accurately identify all the pieces in any puzzle back to the beginning, and even if we could, those pieces may themselves be morally ambiguous. Practicality dictates we limit ourselves. So, while I think the margins are criminal, I’ll put that aside.

The second, I’ll address with two more extremes: abject poverty and mind-numbing wealth. Someone (call him/her poor, homeless, or whatever) who discovers this trick has a choice between doing it and dying. Is it wrong for him/her to do it? No. Now the mind-numbingly rich person, who could buy several franchises, let alone a couple Whoppers, does this. Is it wrong? Clearly yes. The ethical question is linked to circumstances.

So, trying to idealink this conversation, let me try a more productive set of questions, knowing now that there is moral ambiguity here (and likely in most situations).

1) If you can do a thing, does it necessarily follow that you should do that thing? (Thanks, Star Trek VI) If so, why? If not, why not?

2) At what point does “use” become “abuse”?

These questions are meant to cut both ways, in fact, for both the “customers” and “Burger Kings” of the world. Just because you can charge more for a sandwich that cost totally cost $0.80, should you? At what point does the “more” become abusive? $3.50? These questions also apply to the users of the technique. Just because you cn use the technique, should you? At what point does use of this technique become abuse?

Which leads me to the RIAA and MPAA, organizations represent the companies which “represent” their industries of music and movies, respectively. Just because they can sue, attack, and remove choice from their customers, should they? At what point does the relationship they hold with artists ($1 per album, max! The rest goes to the company) or with customers (suing people who often cannot defend themselves) become abusive? Same goes for downloaders of content.

I think RIAA and MPAA are clearly into the abuse category. There are some downloaders who are, too. Some doesn’t equal all. If they attacked some of the big abusers, we’d all support these efforts. Suing grandma? Abusive.

To pathetically quote Spider-Man: With great power comes great resposibility.


Filed under: Culture, Philosophy, Tech, Weird/Funny

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Creative Commons License
Idealink by vijtable is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work by various sources, as cited.
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