Over the past decade or so, the literature has sprung in analyses of the impact the so-called online or digital "piracy" has on sales. Since theory posits both positive and negative effects are possible, the question remains purely empirical. Consequently, there is a variety of published articles and working papers arguing in both ways, many of which attempt to account for the challenge of providing a reliable and causal effect. The objective of this survey is to review and discuss the accomplishments of the field so far. We also provide a tentative meta-analysis. Despite the multiplicity of measures and methods used we argue that the literature as a whole fails to reject the null hypothesis of no effects on sales.
Opublikowane | Published
Friends or foes? A meta-analysis of the link between "online piracy” and sales of cultural goods | Information Economics and Policy Przeczytaj streszczenie | Read abstract
Online and physical appropriation: evidence from a vignette experiment on copyright infringement | Behaviour and Information Technology Przeczytaj streszczenie | Read abstract
This study employs a vignette experiment to inquire, which features of online "piracy" make it ethically discernible from a traditional theft. This question is pertinent since the social norm concerning traditional theft is starkly different from the evidence on ethical evaluation of online "piracy". We specifically distinguish between contextual features of theft, such as for example the physical loss of an item, breach of protection, availability of alternatives, emotional proximity to the victim of theft, etc. We find that some of these dimensions have more weight in ethical judgment, but there are no clear differences between online and traditional theft which could explain discrepancy in the frequency of commitment.
File sharing as conditional cooperation: evidence from a framed field experiment | Applied Economics Letters Przeczytaj streszczenie | Read abstract
We investigate willingness to share and download cultural content by implementing a novel "piracy game" modelled after standard public good games. Subjects' decisions have real consequence, as they are rewarded with individual "transfer" on a file-sharing service. We find that willingness to share depends positively on the sharing by others. Interestingly, however, this tendency does not seem to be associated with reciprocity or other-regarding social preferences. We employ several measures of sharing - from self-reporting to experimental - and incorporate to the analysis other factors which may explain the autonomous willingness to share, irrespective of the group effects. We find that conditional cooperation in content sharing is fairly prevalent, but unrelated to personality traits, attitude towards risk, attitude towards the other, marginal valuation, as well as socio-demographic characteristics.
Do pirates play fair? Ethical judgment of unauthorized sports broadcasts | Behaviour & Information Technology Przeczytaj streszczenie | Read abstract
Ethical norms on the Internet are believed to be more permissive than in the ‘real’ world and this belief often serves as an explanation for the prevalence of the so-called digital “piracy”. In this study we provide evidence from a vignette experiment that contradicts this claim. Analyzing the case of sports broadcast, we compare explicitly the ethical judgment of legal and illegal sharing in the offline and online context. We find that the norms concerning legality, availability of alternatives and deriving material benefits from sharing content do not differ substantially between the virtual and real worlds. We also test explicitly for the role of legal awareness and find that emphasizing what is prohibited (copyright infringement) is less effective than focusing on what is permitted (fair use) in reducing the disparity between legal and ethical norms.
„Piracy is not theft!” Is it just students who think so? | Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics Przeczytaj streszczenie | Read abstract
A fair share of studies analyzing “online piracy” are based on easily accessible student samples. However, it has been argued that the youths tend to have more lax social and ethical norms concerning both property rights and online behavior. In this study we present the results of a vignette experiment, i.e. a scenario survey where responders are asked to provide an ethical judgment on different forms of unauthorized acquisition of a full season of a popular TV series described in a number of hypothetical stories. The survey is conducted both on a student sample and on a sample of individuals who openly endorse protection of intellectual property rights for cultural goods. In this way we can investigate the possibly limited external validity of studies relying solely on the student samples. The vignette experiment concerned ethical evaluation of unauthorized acquisition of cultural content in both virtual and real context and was focused on six dimensions previously identified as relevant to the ethical judgment. Surprisingly, we found that the rules for the ethical judgment do not differ between our samples, suggesting that the social norms on “online piracy” follow similar patterns in student and in other populations. Findings from studies relying on ethical or moral judgments of students may thus be valid in a much broader population.
W toku | Work in progress
Internet piracy and book sales: a field experiment Przeczytaj streszczenie | Read abstract
We report the results of an experimental study analyzing the effects of Internet piracy on book sales. We conducted a year-long controlled large-scale field experiment with pre-treatment pair matching. Half of the book titles received experimental treatment, in which a specialized agency would immediately remove any unauthorized copy appearing on the Internet. For the other half we merely registered such occurrences, but no countermeasures were taken. For all the titles we obtained print and e-book sales statistics from the publishers. We find that removal of unauthorized copies was an effective method of curbing piracy, but this had no bearing on legal sales.