Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I Am Such A Wimp

After going on about honesty and copying media last month, I became involved in a situation in real life and acted less-than-honorably.

I'm starting a new accounting class in two weeks and I happen to know someone who is going to be in that class. For that class, we're going to need a particular accounting application. I already own a copy of this software from a previous class. My future classmate knows that I have this software and asked me if he could copy it, potentially saving himself about a hundred dollars.

I wimped out.

No, I didn't let him copy it. I lied and told him that I lost the disc.

I am such a wimp.

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

I'm not trying to judge, but why is lying better then letting him do what he wants with the disc? I agree that you shouldn't have lied and still not have given him the disk; my question is what is the order of preference.

1. no lie, no give disc
2. no lie and give disc
3. lie and no give disc

BrooklynWolf said...

Well, the point was that I *should have* had the courage to tell him the truth about why I wasn't giving him the disc. I wasn't justifying my action.

The Wolf

Joe said...

But you still did the right thing!

You dont know how uncomfortable it is and what negtive responses I get when I refuse to lend Lipa's CD!

Dont be so hard on yourself. Youll get there step-by-step

BrooklynWolf said...


I don't know if the two cases are analogous. I can lend out a music CD to someone. Sure there is the possibility that they may copy it, but I can probably maintain plausible deniability and state that they are only going to put it in their CD player and listen to it (which everyone would say is OK).

You can't say the same thing about a computer program.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

The truth is, for this sort of situation, the company might not care that you share it. Many software companies let people use their software at minimal cost for educational settings, because they know that if someone is trained on their system, they will likely use it in the future for business, where they will then purchase it. Microsoft and Adobe are well known to do this.

I'm not saying it's necessarily the case, but it a possibility that for this scenario they would be lenient.

Of course, if the program is designed to be used for educational purposes (such as a training program), this argument is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

I still love you.
You may not have told the guy off, but at least you didn't let him potentially steal hundreds of dollars.
Its tough standing up to people.

BrooklynWolf said...


Well, I wouldn't have "told him off," I probably would have just said no. And it's not all that much money -- it was more the principle of the matter.


That may be the case, but even MS and Adobe charge for the educational versions (i.e. discounted for students) of their software. They don't give it away for free.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

Wolf - Legally you ARE allowed to copy music for personal purpose from a personal cd or computer. ie letting a friend copy a song for himself is legal. Copying classical music is legal for personal and business purpose. Going to a song site and downloading a song without paying is illegal, because yes you are doing it for personal use, but they are doing it for profit (even if there is no direct profit to be made from this particular song). By accessing their site you see their ads...

I am not familiar with software laws, but am pretty sure that there are exceptions made for none-profit educational purposes on individual basis.

Anonymous said...

I can see two reasons why you ought to have told the truth. The first is an abstract value: it is better to tell the truth than to lie. The second is particular to this situation: by telling him the truth you would let him know that you oppose breaches of copyright and you would be implicitly rebuking him for trying to do the same.

I don't think the abstract value can be very strong. I have never thought that we should tell the truth in all circumstances: the classic argument is that you shouldn't tell a Nazi that you're protecting a Jewish family. I find more weight in the suggestion that you should have told the truth on this occasion.

By telling him the truth you would serve your own interests, inasmuch as he would not embarrass you by asking for these things in the future. That's a selfish argument and not a moral one. The moral issue is whether you had a duty to implicitly rebuke him. I think ... perhaps you did. There might be other factors which outweigh this duty, although they can't eliminate it - preserving your friendship, or concern for his feelings. You recognised these factors and chose to lie, so I think you did take morality into account. You might have made the wrong choice but you didn't make an unthinking one.

Anonymous said...

Looks like this is ancient history...but my advice at the time would be to cheer up. I highly doubt your friend believed your lie anyway.