8 March, 2004: Modern moral dilemmas

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Recently I bought a wire to connect my mobile phone to my computer. While the manufacturer of the phone wanted me to pay about 50 for the wire, some chap on eBay was selling the same thing for (as it turned out) about 10, resulting in a small but splendid victory for capitalism. However, my purchase created a small moral dilemma. I turn to you, my half-dozen readers, for suggestions as to how I should respond. (This will also serve as a test of my flakey new comments system.)

The wire was advertised as coming with a CD of software which allowed you to transfer data to and from your phone, and also contained some free ring tones and god knows what other junk. Since I don't use Microsoft Windows (can't you just feel the moral righteousness...) I couldn't have cared less what was on the CD, but when the seller posted me my wire and CD, I was slightly surprised to discover that it was not, as implied (but not explicitly stated) an official CD issued by the phone's manufacturer, but instead a (boo!) copy of (presumably) the same on a recordable CD. Now, at this point I should, as always, point out that copyright infringement is Bad and Wrong and very definitely Not To Be Encouraged. Anyway....

On eBay, you're encouraged to leave comments and ratings about buyers and sellers, which are intended to allow traders to judge whether they can trust a particular seller (or customer). Sellers typically encourage their customers to leave positive feedback, for obvious reasons, and if you've had good service it's polite to do so. (I often forget, but that's only tangentially relevant.)

So what do I do now? The seller posted me my wire promptly, and it works fine. I couldn't give a toss about the CD, because it's of no use to me except as a drinks coaster (and, as anyone who's visited my home will know, my furniture generally already has a protective covering of abandoned paperwork, so coasters aren't a lot of use to me either). But it's the sort of thing that other buyers might be worried about, and technically the seller is doing something illegal (though distributing infringing copies of the software -- since it is only of use to people who already have a particular type of mobile phone -- won't have any economic impact whatever on the manufacturer). Should I,

Answers on a postcard, please.


Copyright (c) 2004 Chris Lightfoot; available under a Creative Commons License.