Cenite, Wang, Peiwen and Chan (2009)
|Cenite, Wang, Peiwen and Chan (2009)|
|Title:||More Than Just Free Content: Motivations of Peer-to-Peer File Sharers|
|Author(s):||Cenite, M., Wang, M. W., Peiwen, C., Chan, G. S.|
|Citation:||Cenite, M., Wang, M. W., Peiwen, C., & Chan, G. S. (2009). More Than Just Free Content Motivations of Peer-to-Peer File Sharers. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 33(3), 206-221.|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:|| The sample included file sharers who had used more than one P2P application, had a working understanding of their usage, and had purchased at least one original CD or DVD since they started downloading.
The procedure included 40 face-to-face in-depth interviews lasting approximately 1 hour of participants 16 to 31 years old from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, and Vietnam. About two-thirds were college students; the rest work working adults. All participants lived in Singapore.
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
This study explores file sharers’ reported motivations for downloading and uploading content on peer-to-peer networks, including ethical obligations guiding file sharing. Drawing on Lessig’s classification of purposes of file sharing and Giesler’s theoretical framework of gifting systems, 40 in-depth interviews were conducted with file sharers in Singapore using a standard protocol, then transcripts were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Downloading is perceived as an alternative through which users satisfy desires that existing markets do not meet. Respondents reported downloading to avoid long waits for content to arrive in Singapore; to access difficult-to-find and censored content; to sample content, including content outside their usual tastes; and because downloading is convenient and free. Respondents reported a norm of reciprocity and sense of community that motivated them to upload and an obligation to purchase content they liked. Implications for understanding and combating file sharing during the inevitable transition to other business models are discussed.
Main Results of the Study
- To regard file sharers as homogeneously unethical and criminal is oversimplified.
- Findings suggest that P2P downloading is being used in arguably positive ways to fulfill fole sharers' needs that the content industries have not met.
- Downloading motivations included reasons such as: (1) seeking access to content that is difficult to find; (2) downloading to avoid long waiting times; (3) to sample entertainment content in order to determine what to buy; (4) the convenience and cost considerations of quickly downloading music; and (5) in order to buy the content after downloading if they liked the work (33 of 40 reported doing this).
- Uploading motivations included: (1) a norm of reciprocity to give back to the community of file sharers; and (2) a sense of virtual community based on sharing and common tastes. Fear of legal risks dissuaded some people from sharing.
- File sharers turn to downloading to satisfy desires the current commercial markets inadequately meet. The solution to the downloading problem should align content industries with consumer demands, i.e., paid downloads, making digital copies more available to satisfy issues with access and waiting times.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
- Users may be violating copyright law, but they are also deliberately following certain shared ethics - the ethics of the unethical within the file-sharing community - insisting on a balance between downloading, sharing, and purchasing content.
- Perhaps piracy may be reduced if content industries can address consumers and align themselves with market demands by providing convenient access at the right price through digital distribution.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Individual|
|Period of material under study:||Prior to December 2007|