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Jared Houghton Ethics Paper

There is a dilemma that has been plaguing the NFL for almost six months. The problem deals with the investigation into the New Orleans Saints bounty program and the subsequent legal battles and decisions that have come from it. I would like to analyze why the Commissioner, Steve Goodell, has acted in a utilitarian ethical way and why principally Jonathan Vilma has acted in an egoistically ethical way about the situation. When the NFL found out about the bounty program that the Saints were using, it wanted to swiftly take care of the problem and to give a harsh penalty so that no one else would follow suit and do the same thing. There are many problems with the bounty system. The first is that it violates the contract that the players and the NFL has together stating that there can be no extra contracts among players or coaches that are not listed in the contract signed between the player and the organization. Another problem is that you have players actively trying to injure other players and this causes many problems both between teams and players. Ultimately it shows that the players are acting egotistically and not with a utilitarian view point. To solve this problem, Goodell acted in a utilitarian way for the betterment of the NFL. Commissioner Goodell wanted to come down with a swift and very hefty decision for the players involved so that he could prove to all the other players that they cant get away with something like this, but also for the league as a whole. In his eyes, this was the best decision that he could choose for the benefit of the league. If he allowed players to act this way, he would lose control over the league and everyone would begin to do whatever they wanted to do. This also benefits the league because it shows to everyone on the outside that they league isnt going to

tolerate what happened and they are going to respect the league more. This was going to lead to the best possible outcome because he didnt think that anything less of a punishment would have the same outcome. The only problem is that there is no equation to this problem because it hasnt happened before. So, again he acted ethically by setting the precedence very clear so as to discourage other players from doing the same thing. At the same time, Vilma believes that Goodell is not acting ethically and has taken an egotistical approach to the situation. He was given a one year suspension for his role in the bounty program. He has sued the NFL and requested an injunction so that he would be able to rehab his knee at Saints headquarters. Because of his suspension, he cannot be at the Saints facilities. He filed the lawsuit because he feels that Goodell defamed his name by acting solely on his feelings and not by what the facts say. This is very egotistical because one of the main reasons he wants the lawsuit is because he wants to play again next year in the league and not sit out a year. Also, he wants to be able to return to the Saints headquarters to continue to rehab his knee. Im sure Vilma could make the argument that he is doing this so that he can return and help his team win next year but the biggest reasons are so that he gets his paycheck and so that he can rehab his knee with those doctors. The outcome of this decision will play a huge role in the future of the league. Right now, Goodell hears all appeals on any suspensions or fines because that is his role as Commissioner to look out for the benefit of the league. If Vilma wins this case, then it will limit Goodells role and make it so that he will have a more difficult time acting in a utilitarian way. At the same time, it will make it so that more players will take up lawsuits against not only the NFL but maybe against the Commissioner as well. They will be able to act egotistically and push for the benefit of themselves over the benefit of the whole group. Both of these men will continue to

think that they are acting ethically in what they are doing. Goodell will feel this way because he believes that he will be looking out for the benefit of the league and Vilma feels this way because he thinks he will be looking out for the betterment of himself. I agree with how Goodell is reacting to the situation. He knows that he needs to act ethically for the benefit of the league or he will have some major problems in the future. I dont agree with how Vilma is acting even though he is acting ethically according to the principles of egoism. There is a lot of data that proves he is guilty but because he is looking out for himself only, he will continue to fight against the decision that was given to him.

Are subtitles online an Infringement of Copyright?

The current issue at stake is whether online material needs to have closed captions or not. The problem is that many people who are deaf that claim there needs to be closed captions on websites like Netflix because it goes against the Americans with Disabilities Act that that prohibits discrimination based on disability. The Telecommunications Law states that there are closed captions for television shows but not for online videos. We are asking that the courts decide if this applies to online videos and if it will break copyright laws or not. Statement of facts According to the Telecommunications Law of 1996, requires closed-captioning for all television programs 1 25-year-old from Norway was fined for creating a website that provides subtitles for movies because of copyright infringement problems 2 Netflix and CNN have been sued for not providing subtitles for their online material 3

The legal standard for companies like Netflix is that there are copyright laws that protect the work of the studio that made the movie. Usually, these companies will consider their scripts and other files made for closed captions to be considered intellectual property. This is their own property and for other companies (like Netflix) to legally use the closed captions, they would need to pay to use these products. The standard we would like to focus on is that if you were to put making subtitles for different programs, then you would see that we would be sued for

1 2

http://transition.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Cable/Notices/1997/fcc97004.txt http://torrentfreak.com/student-fined-for-running-movie-tv-show-subtitle-download-site-120608/ 3 http://www.rcfp.org/browse-media-law-resources/news/federal-judge-rejects-cnns-anti-slapp-motion-closedcaptioning-lawsu, http://www.sfgate.com/technology/article/Netflix-may-have-to-provide-closed-captions-online3652999.php

copyright infringement because we wont have the necessary rights from the studios to copy their material and use it for our benefit. The decision of this problem will change the way of online media for the future. Many studios have issues with licenses and if we were required to have subtitles, there would be problems with that. The internet isnt considered a public accommodation because according to the ADA, it isnt listed in that law. These studios consider their work to be intellectual property and they have copyrighted all their material. We would need to gain their permission to make subtitles and we would also have to spend a lot of money to do so. This decision will affect a lot of people and we ask you to keep that in mind as you try to make the decision that will affect the least amount of people overall. The movie and TV studios in America have in the past, taken legal action against subtitling websites in the past. The issue with this is there are licensing issues abroad that prohibit them from allowing their products to be shown in certain countries. If they allowed companies to do that, then they would run into certain problems with countries if they didnt take the right protocols to meet the standards that were set. To avoid those problems, they have not allowed those companies to create subtitles. We would also have the same problems if we were forced to have subtitles on our movies online. As a company, we would have to increase our spending in order to meet the demands of the different licenses that would be needed. The big issue would be with other sites online. Most of this content is user created and each individual would have an individual copyright to the material that they created. Most probably wouldnt have the means or know that they would need to register their material in order to use litigation to regain what was copyrighted. But if enough people knew of the problem, then they

would go out and copyright their material and the different websites would be left with a difficult decision to make. Would they force the different users to allow them the rights to the different content that they have and kick them out if they didnt comply? Or would they break the copyright laws that this country has in order to meet this standard? The other side might argue that because of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, we would have to abide with the regulations that all televised mediums need to provide closed-captioning for their materials. But, this act doesnt specifically mention anything about the internet and so we would not be breaking the law by not providing them. They might also argue that we are not following the ADAs requirements but the internet isnt considered a public accommodation according to the Ninth District Court of San Francisco and other courts across the country 4. So we would be following those laws as well. We want to remind the judge that this is a very important case not only in our regard, but also for everyone else who has material online like we do. If you ruled that this isnt a copyright issue, then other people would use this as precedence and say that other websites would need to provide subtitles on all their material. This would cause major copyright problems because someone would have to get permission from each person to use their material to make subtitles. This would cause more problems than it would solve. It is important to remember that this is a service that has been offered to paying customers only. People cant use our product without paying for it so they chose to use it rather than have it available to them for free. If they know that we dont offer subtitles and they have to pay for the service, we shouldnt have to provide that either because we have the right to determine what we can or cant do as our business. We ask that you see that this is a first amendment issue and we have the choice if we want to include


the subtitles or not because people chose to come to our site voluntarily and not because they are forced to. The legal standard for companies like Netflix is that there are copyright laws that protect the work of the studio that made the movie. Usually, these companies will consider their scripts and other files made for closed captions to be considered intellectual property. This is their own property and for other companies (like Netflix) to legally use the closed captions, they would need to pay to use these products. We argue that they have the rights to this material because for movies, this product is already available. Also, we argue that the studios will want the best for their own product and they will not have a problem in allowing the websites to provide this content. If you consider what must be proved in order to have copyright infringement, then you will see that we dont have any problems with copyright. This issue is an important issue that needs to be solved sooner than later. Right now the future of media is online with many social media websites and other websites that provide media for many people instantly. Even though this is a paying product, it is important to remember to remember that there are a lot of other websites that arent and they would be affected as well. With the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, websites are required to meet this standard. There are many companies who offer products to provide subtitles for different forms of media and they could use this to provide subtitles. It is important to know that the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 requires that all programs that were originally aired on television to provide subtitles when they are placed on the internet 5. So companies like Netflix would have to


provide subtitles for everything they have that was played on television or was made for television. This follows what was decided by the Telecommunications Act because that requires all television shows to have subtitles on television. This is just another step to show that they will need to provide subtitles for their material online. This applies to allow sites online and not just the sites that are available for free but also all sites that require a fee to watch. In regards to the different licenses that the different studios would need to allow subtitles to be available in different countries around the world, they would just need to show that they are consistently keeping track of where they can and cant be. When they find a company who offers this service somewhere they have a license for, they just need to prove that they are continuing to monitor this and the courts will uphold their lawsuits in court. They wont be able to get monetary gains unless they can prove that the service was done for a fee. If they continue to monitor, they shouldnt have any problems with licensing problems either in the United States or in countries around the world. There are many companies who would need to provide subtitles for their content. Because of the growing demand for companies to meet the standards of the ADA, websites will need to adapt to this or they will get sued. A company by the name of Amara, who originally was named Universal Subtitles, allows users to add subtitles to their own material that they create 6. This will allow the sites to follow the Media Accessibility Act of 2010 and not have problems with lawsuits. Working in conjuncture with these companies, social media site such as YouTube can require their users to first use this product to provide subtitles to their material before uploading them. This wont be too hard and with advertising they will still be able to afford the extra costs of using this feature.


They will not be able to prove that they will have a copyright issue because the work will no longer be used illegally. Specifically with television shows, there will already be subtitles from when they were on air, so they will not have to worry about using material that is copyrighted. The material will be an original work and fixed in a tangible medium and registered or else there would be many people across the world that would be using their material. But they would not be able to prove that we directly copyrighted the material because they have already used their scripts in subtitles for when they made the movies. This is already available and the companies would just have to give permission or be required to give the permission needed to specific companies to play their movies or other different material. We would survive a copyright infringement lawsuit because we wont meet all three of these requirements. As has been noticed, this is a very important decision to be made. It will change the course of the media world for the future. You need to decide that subtitles on websites like Netflix are not breaking copyright infringement laws. There has already been subtitles provided and they would not need to make new ones. By requiring websites to provide ways for users to include subtitles, there would be a lot of lawsuits avoided. It is also important to remember that when the Telecommunications Act was passed, the internet wasnt as prevalent as it is today. By adapting that law to the differences that are around us now, we know that it is required and that it wont be an issue of copyright infringement anymore.