Ethics of the Internet:
Authenticity, Ownership, and Commercialism of Digital Images
These are notes for a lecture on Ethics, Images, and the Internet by Howard
Besser. They are provided to supplement the lecture, and should not be read
outside of that context.
Please do not assume that the sites listed here represent
breeches of ethics.
Many of these sites were chosen to help
understand what kind of principles are involved in
evaluating whether an ethical question is even raised.
The What is Ethics?
section raises questions as to what principles may play a role in
evaluating the "ethicalness" of an act,
and many of the sites help to illustrate
whether ethics is mistakenly viewed as an issue.
What is Ethics?
Ethics has little to do with law
Ethics is based in cultures or subcultures
Ethics is different from good taste
Ethics may or may not be related to intent
Ethics is related to context
- Legal acts may be ethically "bad"
- Illegal acts may be ethically sound
Sites with Images that raise Ethical Issues
Tradition of Doctoring Photos from Ethics in photojournalism by Ken
up Rush Limbaugh
Deformed or disfigured people
Curt Cobain's body
X-Rays of human bodies with objects inserted
Dead Iraqi soldiers with accompanying captions
electronic fanzines (below)
Does ethics involve knowledge and intent?
Religious site posing as lesbian site
of a manuscript image from Image Enhancement Using Adobe Photoshop
by Karen Holmes
Christis Rex is an anti-Soviet group not associated with the Vatican
Museum photo which was temporarily reversed but the temporary image
was copied into part of an Art History project. When someone posts a copy
of an innacurate image that they think is accurate, does this pose ethical
questions? Can a (probably unavoidable) series of mistakes by various parties
be construed as an ethical breech?
- Paris Page Louvre no longer appears to be the real Louvre.
When one tries to publicize a repository, is one responsible for indicating
that this is not an official site for that repository?
Is it an ethical breech to intentionally avoid mentioning that this is not an official site?
Does the ethics of the situation change if one is unaware that people are misconstruing the authorship/ownership of the site?
Possible Copyright or Permissions Infringements
Howard's Copyright WWW page
SILS Face and Finger Gateway Permission was never asked to put pictures up - Is this legitimate?
Images of Anne Rice novel covers
Calvin and Hobbes cartoons
Images of Dr. Seuss's Grinch
Star Trek Poster on personal homepage
Small Philosophy poem by Maria Bonn on background image. Image was drawn by child killed in Auschwitz but
the digital image was created from a copyrighted book.
The Wonder Years on personal homepage
Vaguely identifiable nude thumbnails with obscene content.
Mickey Mouse Fan Club
- Christina Applegate
- Madonna site, a fanzine with "borrowed" images which probably represent the subject in the way she wishes to be represented
- Sandra Bullock site, a fanzine with "borrowed" images which represent the subject in a way she surely doesn't want to be represented
- Babes on the Web which points to the homepages of women who have done interesting Web sites. Ethical issues include:
- If one looks at the sites rated within the top (4 star) category, all women there fit the "classical beauty" model.
- The "Babe of the Month" for November 1995 calls herself a "Playmate" and is seen in a provocative pose. This suggests that the person who created this site is aware that many of the site visiters use the women listed to help them construct sexual fantasies. If one believes their statistics, this site is visted by about 10,000 people per day.
- The women who have their pages pointed to from this site do NOT know that they are listed. Is it ethically legitimage for the "Babes" designer to point to these women's pages without telling them, particularly if he knows that it's likely that their images and personal data will be used as fodder for masturbatory fantasies?
- Heather Lockyear
- The King Pages
return to Image DB class
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