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6.13: Assignment- “Free Music and Videos?” Discussion Forum

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    Assignment Objective

    This assignment helps you learn to think critically about real ethical issues and difficult problems that may not have good solutions, or that may have more than one good solution. Writing for others in a discussion forum helps you think about your answers more carefully. Seeing the opinions of others helps you reflect on and evaluate your own.


    Part A

    1. Hundreds of millions of songs and videos are illegally downloaded every month and about one-quarter of all Internet users have downloaded a movie from the Internet.
    2. Research this topic and post your answers to the following questions in the Free Music and Videos? class (not group) forum:
      1. What do you think might happen if this situation doesn’t change?
      2. Is downloading music or videos without paying any different ethically than shoplifting CDs or DVDs from a store? Why or why not?
      3. Is there a solution to this problem that could make everyone happy?
    3. Include in your post at least two references (books, magazines, scholarly journals, newspapers, web sites) and clearly relate your sources to your essay. Include a citation in parenthesis with the author’s last name after the sentence or paragraph where you referred to the source. This should be done for each source.

    Wikipedia cannot be used as a direct source. See

    Cite your sources at the end of your essay using either APA ( or MLA ( format.

    Part B: Discussion

    1. Read the statements by others in the class.
    2. Respond to at least two by asking a question. (Choose classmates that have not already been asked questions by someone else, if any.) Your questions should be one of these three types:
      1. Clarification question – This kind of question helps the writer by asking him to clarify points that you think could be more fully explained. An example of clarification questions is, “You said in your posting that all music is inherently free when it is played into the open air. I don’t understand whether you mean physically free, or legally free. Can you explain what you mean in another way?”
      2. Hypothetical question – This kind of question helps the writer by asking her to test her argument by applying it to a situation that you specify. An example of a hypothetical question is, “You proposed that music files be encoded in a non-copyable format. What would happen if somebody bought a new computer and wanted to copy the songs that they bought legally from their old computer?”
      3. Evidence question – When a writer states something as fact rather than personal opinion, his argument is stronger if he cites evidence that the fact is true. Facts can be evidenced, in approximate order of strongest evidence to weakest, (1) by citing trustworthy data, (2) by citing the opinions of experts, (3) by citing repeatable personal experience, or (4) by citing common opinion. This kind of question helps the writer by asking for evidence if he states something as fact but doesn’t cite evidence. An example of an evidence question is, “You stated that copying a DVD that you legally own is illegal. Can you tell me why you think that?”
    3. Discussion is an exchange, not a lecture. Don’t post your comments and then disappear. Participate regularly and solicit feedback from your peers.

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    6.13: Assignment- “Free Music and Videos?” Discussion Forum is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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