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CIS_537_56_DB_Freedom of Expression and Intellectual Property

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Your grandfather recently passed away, at a ripe old age. As the only surviving family member, you had been expecting a sizeable inheritance, and were surprised to discover that he left all his money to various nature conservation causes that you weren’t even aware he cared about. He also left, in your care, a mysterious sealed package. Only you know the contents of the package. In the package are detailed design and implementation instructions for a robot that will revolutionize the world as we know it, and a key to a secure storage vault where a perfectly functioning prototype resides. Your grandfather states in a letter to you that he wishes the design for the robot to be given freely to the world, as his gift to humanity. He does not wish for any profit to be made from the robot, by anyone, even though the potential exists to make millions of dollars in profit. Again, you and your grandfather are the only two people who know this robot exists, and he is dead. Make a case for and a case against using his plans to patent the robot and make a profit off of it. Which action would you ultimately take and why? (You knew this part was coming…) What ethical framework are you using to support your decisions?

Feel free to use news articles as references, making sure to list those and any other references at the bottom of the post. Quotations by famous people are allowed, as well – you only have to identify the speaker, not the specific work, in the case of well-known quotations.

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