The snobbery of ethical use?

Photo by tim.la

Photo by tim.la

Some may accuse me of trolling when I suggest that the notion paying for media that I could easily though not ethically download is an artifact of middle class privilege. Still it’s a thought I’d like to explore.

As I become more educated about the world of web 2.0 and all its inherent issues, I try to make more of a conscious effort to model the types of digital citizenship I expect from my students. But try as I might I still get dirty looks from students when I explain to them that it’s unethical to reproduce another person’s work without their permission, that they should pay for an artist’s music rather than download from a bit torrent site, and that “finding it on Google” does not make it fair use.

It’s not that I don’t believe that these are important issues. I want my students to be good digital citizens.

But I’ve also been thinking that my own belief in value of these ideals didn’t evolve until I had enough disposable income to not think twice about spending money on something that I could privately download for free–oh let’s call it what it is–steal.

I am not advocating an end to teaching ethical use of digital media. All I’m saying is that it’s a lot easier to be ethical when you can afford it. So how do we make all our students care–not just the ones who can easily afford to care?