To Pirate or to Purchase? A Model of Individual Decisions for Digital Product Product Acquisition

Rob Veitch, Ioanna Constantiou

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    Ten years after the fall of Napster, digital piracy remains an issue for media and software companies. While scholars often treat digital piracy as a behaviour that needs to be prevented or punished, the user’s decision about how to acquire a digital product involves more than the piracy option. However, the decision between legal alternatives and piracy has received limited attention. Moreover, existing models used in piracy research emphasize some elements of the acquisition decision, but disregard other important influences. This has led to a body of literature that is fragmented and has decontextualised digital piracy by not examining how available legal alternatives are evaluated. This paper makes an attempt to address these issues and presents a model of the user’s digital product acquisition decision in the context of piracy, integrating elements of previous models to reflect the decision’s complexity. Specifically, we use a consumer decision-making perspective as a framework for integrating elements of previous models used in digital piracy research, including those from social psychology, business ethics, criminology, and consumer behaviour. In the model, we depict the acquisition decision as being influenced by the user’s product desire, price perceptions, perceived risks, internal regulators of behaviour, resources, and product availability. Theoretical and empirical evidence from the existing literature is drawn upon in order to provide support for the elements of the model. The paper concludes with an outline for future research and a brief discussion of its contribution.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2011
    Number of pages12
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    EventThe 6th Mediterranean Conference on Information Systems. MCIS 2011 - , Cyprus
    Duration: 3 Sept 20115 Sept 2011
    Conference number: 6


    ConferenceThe 6th Mediterranean Conference on Information Systems. MCIS 2011
    Internet address


    • Digital piracy
    • Consumer behaviour
    • Decision-making
    • Internet

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