Sunday, May 30, 2010


Of the readers who responded to an unscientific poll on my column's blog, 59 percent believe that it is wrong to download electronic copies of a book without paying, even if they have paid for it in another format, while 41 percent disagree.

"When you buy a book, you are purchasing a very limited license to enjoy the content in the form presented," writes William Jacobson of Cypress, Calif. "You are not purchasing the right to download that content in any other format, unless it is specifically stated as part of the sale."

Ken Gagne of Worcester, Mass., thinks that "it's fair to create your own translation of a product you own for personal use, such as scanning a book to put on your Kindle or digitizing a CD to load onto your iPod."

He draws the line, however, at downloading additional copies of a book simply because you have paid for it in another format.

"To enjoy the fruits of someone else's translation efforts means making the investment in their version of that product. To do otherwise is still piracy."

Check out other opinions here, or post your own by clicking on "Comments" or "Post a comment" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," New York Times Syndicate, 630 Eighth Ave., 5th floor, New York, N.Y. 10018.

c.2010 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)

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