When corporations are more ethical than individuals

We were discussing piracy and plagiarism in class today. It's common knowledge that most young people don't consider downloading or copying music from a friend to be stealing. I was going to raise my hand and talk about how the music industry is actually doing fine - it's shifted more now to live shows, merchandise, and commercial licensing. Commercial licensing made me realize that on some issues corporations act much more ethically than individuals; that is, a corporation's larger liability leads them to act more ethically, because the damages are higher. For example, TV companies and commercial makers pay artists to license music during songs; the costs of them playing the songs without permission is much higher. I would also guess that, all other things equal, employees of a centrally owned, national corporation would act more ethically than a mom-and-pop operation in the same line of work. This analysis only really applies to physical crimes like harassment and theft; I believe that employees of big corporations would act more ethically in these areas than individuals, or small firms. There's no individual equivalent to corporate malfeasance, option backdating or share price manipulation.

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