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Mandatory Professional License for Software Designers

Mandatory Professional License for Software Designers

Abstract: Given the wide impact and real-time safety concerns of some software applications, it seems reasonable to regulate who will be doing the writing of this critical software. A number of other professions dealing with human safety require their practitioners to be either licensed. At present software professionals are not licensed. However, because software does have far-reaching and potentially disastrous effects, all software designers should also be professionally licensed in some manner.

Would you think twice about flying on a commercial airliner if you knew that anyone straight off the street could apply to pilot the jet you sit on? Would you be worried about going to a doctor who never attended medical school, even though he assures you that he “knows what he’s doing”? And think about how you feel while driving next to a tractor-trailer barreling down the highway. Would you be more nervous if you knew that absolutely no training was required to jump behind the wheel of that big-rig?

Now consider how you feel about the fact that the man who wrote the routines to allow you to draw $60 out of your ATM might be some uneducated hacker. The lady who wrote part of the auto-pilot routine for the 747 you fly on might have cheated her way through all of her computer science classes and landed her job without any professional certification. And the software that is supposed to save your new novel to disk could have been written by any nut who happens to know a little C .

Besides altruistic concerns about public welfare in safety-critical jobs and applications, the threat of lawsuits and an interest in protecting the field’s own reputation drives many professions to institute licensing and training programs. The fact is that the airlines do regulate who can fly commercial airplanes. Doctors do have to go to medical school, and even large-truck drivers have certification programs to pass. However, no liscencing is currently required for software developers-even those programming safety-critical applications. Because software has such far-reaching effects and the very real potential to harm when written poorly, software professionals should be licensed as well. This license should ensure that the computing professional has the required body of knowledge and proper ethics to perform his job well.

Part of the issue is that software is somewhat invisible and creeps up in all sorts of places-often as an aid to those in strictly-licensed professions.

Trends In Copyright Infringement: A Review of Two Predictive Articles

Trends In Copyright Infringement: A Review of Two Predictive Articles

Abstract: In 1995 Lance Rose and Esther Dyson wrote articles in Wired Magazine expressing polarized views on the future of copyright law and copyright infringement. This essay reviews those articles, analyzes each article’s accuracy as defined by current trends years later.

Over the past decade the societal view of creative society has greatly changed due to advances in computer technology and the Internet. In 1995, aware of the beginning of this change, two authors wrote articles in Wired Magazine expressing diametrically opposed views on how this technological change would take form, and how it would affect copyright law. In the article “The Emperor’s Clothes Still Fit Just Fine” Lance Rose hypothesized that the criminal nature of copyright infringement would prevent it from developing into a socially acceptable practice. Thus, he wrote, we would not need to revise copyright law to prevent copyright infringement. In another article, Entitled “Intellectual Value”, Esther Dyson presented a completely different view of the copyright issue. She based many her arguments on the belief that mainstream copyright infringement would proliferate in the following years, causing a radical revision of American ideas and laws towards intellectual property. What has happened since then? Who was right? This paper analyzes the situation then and now, with the knowledge that these trends are still in a state of transformation. As new software and hardware innovations make it easier to create, copy, alter, and disseminate original digital content, this discussion will be come even more critical.

Whereas Rose advocated better policing practices and improved copyright legislation, Dyson proposed that the de facto legalization of content duplication would nullify copyright law, resulting in a service-based economy with little copyright law. While this economic and legal evolution will continue for years to come, it is this author’s opinion that Dyson’s model of change seems much more likely based on events and trends over the past six years.

Much of Rose’s argument for the retention of current copyright laws stems from the faulty belief that copyright infringement will remain much of an underground practice. In his article Rose asserts that “Net users who aren’t at least mildly familiar with the [file-sharing] underworld will never even hear about such systems before they are dismembered” [1]. While file-sharing might not have been an important issue in 1995, the word “underworld” does not accurately describe the flourishing file sharing situation today.

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