Digital piracy and the perception of price fairness. Evidence from a field experiment

We study a relationship between perceived price fairness and digital piracy. In a large-scale field experiment on customers of a leading ebook store we employ the Bayesian Truth Serum to elicit the information on acquiring books from unauthorized sources (often referred to as digital piracy). We provide empirical evidence in support of the conjecture that willingness to ‘pirate’ is associated with having experienced subjective overpricing. We propose and verify the relevance of two mechanisms behind this link: reactance theory and moral cleansing/licensing. The results indicate that pricing policy perceived as fair may reduce the scope for digital piracy.