Watson, Zizzo and Fleming (2016)
|Watson, Zizzo and Fleming (2016)|
|Title:||Risk, Benefit, and Moderators of the Affect Heuristic in a Widespread Unlawful Activity: Evidence from a Survey of Unlawful File‐Sharing Behavior|
|Author(s):||Steven J. Watson, Daniel J. Zizzo, Piers Fleming|
|Citation:||Watson, S.J., Zizzo, D.J. and Fleming, P. (2017) Risk, Benefit, and Moderators of the Affect Heuristic in a Widespread Unlawful Activity: Evidence from a Survey of Unlawful File‐Sharing Behavior. Risk Analysis, 37(6)|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||An online questionnaire was issued to participants who were sourced via a market research company (totalling 1,395 participants). These participants were in turn divided into two groups; one which completed a questionnaire based on eBooks, and the other on music files.|
|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:|
“Increasing the perception of legal risk via publicized litigation and lobbying for copyright law enforcement has had limited success in reducing unlawful content sharing by the public. We consider the extent to which engaging in file sharing online is motivated by the perceived benefits of this activity as opposed to perceived legal risks. Moreover, we explore moderators of the relationship between perceived risk and perceived benefits; namely, trust in industry and legal regulators, and perceived online anonymity. We examine these questions via a large two‐part survey of consumers of music (n = 658) and eBooks (n = 737). We find that perceptions of benefit, but not of legal risk, predict stated file‐sharing behavior. An affect heuristic is employed: as perceived benefit increases, perceived risk falls. This relationship is increased under high regulator and industry trust (which actually increases perceived risk in this study) and low anonymity (which also increases perceived risk). We propose that, given the limited impact of perceived legal risk upon unlawful downloading, it would be better for the media industries to target enhancing the perceived benefit and availability of lawful alternatives.”
Main Results of the Study
Firstly, it should be noted that the study finds that media are perceived differently: participants believed there was more benefit to downloading music, and also that there was less trust in this industry; the reverse is true of eBooks.
There is no statistically significant difference in the self-reporting rates of unlawful file-sharing where percieved legal risk increases. Furthermore, where the perceived benefit of unlawful file-sharing is high, this appears to outweigh or undermine the perception of legal risk. Also impacting perceived risk are levels of trust in an industry, and anonymity: for the former, higher levels of trust in an industry are associated with higher perceptions of risk (where that trusted entity causes harm); for the latter, where perceived anonymity is high, risk is perceived as low.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
As the perceived benefit of unlawful file-sharing outweighs any associated legal risk, the authors recommend legal-alternatives (such as alternative business models which promote cost-efficiency and convenience, e.g. streaming), or campaigns which undermine these perceived benefits. Conversely, any changes in the legal framework are only likely to have short-term or limited benefits.