From a Christian perspective, a certain and specific standard of conduct applies to everything we do, however, even from a secular standpoint, ethics in regards to computer use is a necessary and valuable goal. A standard morality should be in effect for computer users, and that should look like a respect for people's property, along with the basic golden rule. Two Hundred years ago, mercantile economies could only exist if pirates didn't ruin trade, and successful trade led to honest work and thriving countries on both sides. Similarly, the internet will be a thriving medium only if people are willing to put their work on it with out fear of it being stolen, copied, or handled without their approval or knowledge.
Intellectual property law exists, but leaves much to be desired. Our current laws have black and white right and wrong, but unfortunately, they also have a great deal of grey areas too, and enforcement can be next to impossible. The internet and computer use in general could be a more valuable resource with the increase of both well written and enforceable law, and personal ethics.