Sheehan, Tsao and Yang (2010)
|Sheehan, Tsao and Yang (2010)|
|Title:||Motivations for gratifications of digital music piracy among college students|
|Author(s):||Sheehan, B., Tsao, J., Yang, S.|
|Citation:||Sheehan, B., Tsao, J., & Yang, S. (2010). Motivations for gratifications of digital music piracy among college students. Atlantic journal of communication, 18(5), 241-258.|
|Link(s):||Definitive , Open Access|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The convenience samples of the study included 204 college students who voluntarily participated in an anonymous survey in February 2009. The majority of the survey participants were recruited from four undergraduate classes and one graduate class in a large university on the east coast of the United States.|
|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 article reports on a quantitative survey done at a large eastern university to study motivations for gratifications of digital music piracy among college students. The study found that economic utility, collection utility, and social utility all motivate digital music piracy. A key finding was that social utility was the most important motivation for illegal downloading. Looking at music piracy as a social phenomenon may be a key to improving the effectiveness of antipiracy strategies.
Main Results of the Study
Main results reported in this study:
- Economic, collection, and social utilities all motivate digital music piracy.
- The importance of social utility was an important new finding: it may support music piracy as an aspect of social network theory (Kadushin, 2004), which underscores the importance of social connections and relationships in regard to individual actions.
- Although our previous qualitative results led us to believe that social utility was an important motivator, our quantitative results showed that it contributed more to the level of gratification than economic utility.
- Social utility was the most important motivation for illegal downloading, collection utility was the second most important motivation, followed by economic utility, which is surprising.
- Specific factors that reinforced the motivations to download include previously documented anti-musician/anti-music industry feelings and feelings of optimistic bias.
- The most significant findings were related to the influence of social aspects. Higher levels of social acceptance led to stronger motivations to illegally download.
- A previously researched result was reinforced: when moral conscience was low, desire to illegally download is high (Gopal et al., 2004). Rather than being an absolute measure of moral conscience (i.e., right vs. wrong), if we look at this through the social lens, we can see it more as a measure of what is deemed socially acceptable or unacceptable.
- In personal and group interviews, the legal cost for downloading using on-campus servers was seen as extremely high. Most respondents had a friend, or had heard of someone, who had been caught and/or fined. Off campus, in the “real world,” however, respondents indicated that their fear of being caught was infinitesimally small.
- With such a low perceived possibility of being caught, it is reasonable to theorize that the optimistic bias of college kids regarding legal costs grew to such an extent that legal costs no longer had the potential to act as a brake on illegal behavior.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Policy Implications reported in the study:
- The music industry should not only be developing strategies to fight individual downloaders, as a focus on individual lawsuits does. Rather, they should perceive the problem as fundamentally group oriented, or social. This indicates that grass roots efforts within colleges that focus on times when students are assembled either physically or in social networks could prove effective.
- In terms of broader communication, messages with the objective of overturning peer group social acceptance by showing the cost of the behavior on the peer group, its image, or society at large might be more effective than focus on individual risks.
- In addition to social strategies, any program, legal approach, or advertising campaign aiming to increase the perception of personal risk needs to reframe the perception of risk substantially. Aside from using on-campus servers, the perception of personal risk to college students is, today, very small.
- A swift and drastic shift in perception would be important not just on an individual basis but because it could create a social tipping point among college peers. A key to combining personal and social costs might be to focus on things related to music piracy that could cause extreme personal embarrassment within the insular social peer networks of college campuses.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||University students|
|Period of material under study:||February 2009|