DISCUSS THIS: The Ethical Distribution of Forensics Materials
There's a scene in Jurassic Park when our group of unsuspecting protagonists discover that the theme park will be home to living, breathing, dinosaurs. Upon watching the cloned creatures hatch, Dr. Ian Malcom (played by actor Jeff Goldblum) confronts the wealthy park owner John Hammond about the implications of his creations. "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could," he asserts, "that they didn't stop to think if they should." In the 20 years since Jurassic Park hit theaters, we haven't come much closer to walking alongside dinosaurs, but we continue to face the dilemma of technology outpacing ethics.
Internet piracy has proven to be both a bane and a boon depending on what side of the issue you find yourself. When you're able to gain free access to paid content - be it for entertainment or educational purposes - you find yourself in possession of something you need or want without having to spend any money. On the other hand, when you've produced and made available content that others will find valuable, it is disheartening to be denied compensation for your efforts.
Creating justifications is fairly easy. "It's not stealing, it's copying." "I'm just sharing it with a few friends." "They [the content creators] won't miss the money." "Money is tight and I really need this. I'll buy something from them in the future." Besides, you say, technology just makes it so easy, cheap, and fast to share these files.
Again, just because you can doesn't mean you should.
So when speculations begin to rise about a large group of team copying and distributing a small handful of paid debate briefs amongst themselves, we find it necessary to address the issue. Regardless of the ease, efficiency, or competitive advantage that widespread inter-team distribution of paid debate briefs may afford individuals, it is considered piracy and it is unethical. Period. We are referring not only to debate briefs but any paid forensics materials. This includes uploading debate briefs, textbooks, extemp analysis, or interp scripts on public servers so that a simple internet search allows individuals to access and download the full text materials. When an item is purchased from our store, it is for the exclusive use of the team making the purchase.
The individuals who publish these materials are not anonymous or wealthy. They graduated from your high schools. They are alumni who come back to help teams. They are continuing their education or working other full time job(s). They are raising families. This isn't a get-rich-quick scheme of people thinking that debate briefs, current event analysis, or interp scripts will earn them a fast fortune. The time, effort, and dedication it takes to research, write, and publish materials for forensics is dizzying. It is time that is spent in lieu of having fun or being with friends or family members. This is not a hobby - it is work. It is work that is done to benefit an activity that enriched their educational experience. Their work reduces the time teams spend looking for materials and affords coaches and competitors more daylight hours to spend strengthening skills.
This isn't about forensics companies being greedy. It's about acknowledging that the content has value and its creators are due compensation. When publishers' works are freely distributed, when the compensation doesn't justify the time and effort that goes into creation, people will stop producing the materials. We know money is tight for a lot of people right now. Forensics companies price their products to be reasonably affordable to customers while justifying the effort that goes in to creating these materials.
We are here to serve the forensics community. This activity has immeasurable value for students, coaches, teachers, parents, alumni, and administrators. Forensics has helped many to not only hone their public speaking skills, but their desire to express their creativity through writing interp scripts, their interest in analyzing current events for extempers, or their ability to uncover and organize data and research for debate briefs.
We aren't random outsiders looking to profit from schools or students. We are alumni. We are volunteers. We are advocates. We are part of this community. And we are proud of it.
If you have any questions about materials available in the SpeechGeek Market and what consitutes authorized distribution of your purchase, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to offer any clarification and be of assistance in any way possible.