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Digital Media Ethics

Digital Media Ethics

Charles Ess

ISBN: 978-0-745-65500-0

Apr 2013, Polity

280 pages



This is the first textbook on the central ethical issues of digital media, ranging from computers and the Internet to mobile phones. It is also the first book of its kind to consider these issues from a global perspective, introducing ethical theories from multiple cultures. It further utilizes examples from around the world, such as the publication of “the Mohammed Cartoons”; diverse understandings of what “privacy” means in Facebook or MySpace; why pirating CDs and DVDs may be justified in developing countries; and culturally-variable perspectives on sexuality and what counts as “pornography.” Readers and students thus acquire a global perspective on the central ethical issues of digital media, including privacy, copyright, pornography and violence, and the ethics of cross-cultural communication online.

The book is designed for use across disciplines – media and communication studies, computer science and informatics, as well as philosophy. It is up-to-date, accessible and student- and classroom-friendly: each topic and theory is interwoven throughout the volume with detailed sets of questions that foster careful reflection, writing, and discussion into these issues and their possible resolutions. Each chapter further includes additional resources and suggestions for further research and writing.

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Foreword by Luciano Floridi.


Chapter Synopses.

1 Central Issues in the Ethics of Digital Media.

2 Privacy in the Electronic Global Metropolis?.

3 Copying and Distributing via Digital Media: Copyright, Copyleft, Global Perspectives.

4 Citizenship in the Global Metropolis.

5 Still More Ethical Issues: Digital Sex and Games.

6 Digital Media Ethics: Overview, Frameworks, Resources.



"A stimulating introduction."
Times Higher Education

"The last chapter alone would make Digital Media Ethics a worthy addition to the shelf of any journalism ethics teacher ... teachers of journalism and media ethics are sure to find much in it to enrich their own understanding and teaching."
Rhodes Journalism Review

"Offers a clear, concise and appropriately simple introduction to digital media ethics for students of diverse disciplinary backgrounds. Extensive effort has been made to enliven the text with vivid and potentially emotive examples (rape rooms, infant suicide bombers, slavery), to be inclusive of varied philosophical traditions, and to develop questions that facilitate collaborative reflection and debate."
Media, Culture & Society

"In Digital Media Ethics, Charles Ess provides a unique and timely look at pressing issues facing all of us in an interconnected, global society. The text is philosophically inclusive, well researched, and clearly presented. It is a goldmine for classrooms across disciplines, as it offers many opportunities for critical reflection and engagement. A brilliant collection of the theoretical, practical, and pedagogical."
Elizabeth Buchanan, University of Wisconsin

"Digital Media Ethics is the most insightful and useful overview and analysis of the ethical dimensions of new media. It examines critical issues like privacy and copyright but it also delves deeply into matters of online behaviors and consequences. While the topics are complex, the writing is clear, and there are very useful exercises and discussion questions with each chapter, making it a very useful book for teaching. I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in learning new ways to think about the principles and values that may guide online interactions."
Steve Jones, University of Illinois at Chicago

"This book is a concise and rich introduction to digital media ethics. Ess combines a sophisticated consideration of how philosophies of ethics apply to new media with grounded and insightful case studies of hot button issues in the current digital environment."
Nancy Baym, University of Kansas

  • The first textbook on the central ethical issues of digital media, ranging from computers and the internet to mobile phones and social networking.
  • Uses a wealth of contemporary issues such as the publication of the Mohammed Cartoons and understandings of privacy in Facebook or MySpace, plus cross-cultural examples such as the variable perspectives on what counts as pornography.
  • Written by one of the leading scholars in the field and current president of the Association of Internet Researchers.
  • Employs pedagogical resources throughout the text, all of which are completely integrated and were highly praised by reviewers.
  • Will be supported by a series website, with blog and community media functionality.