Quiring, Von Walter and Atterer (2008)
|Quiring, Von Walter, and Atterer (2008)|
|Title:||Can filesharers be triggered by economic incentives? Results of an experiment|
|Author(s):||Quiring, O., Von Walter, B., Atterer, R.|
|Citation:||Quiring, O., Von Walter, B., & Atterer, R. (2008). Can filesharers be triggered by economic incentives? Results of an experiment. New Media & Society, 10(3), 433-453.|
|Link(s):||Definitive , Open Access|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||To reproduce the five different revenue-sharing conditions (100:0,75:25, 50:50,25:75,0:0),the sample of 100 undergraduate students was divided into five groups of 20 participants.Each group simulated a small peer-to-peer network.Participants were recruited via a web form where they filled in their address,age,gender and download affinity.The five experimental groups were matched according to these three criteria (age,gender,download affinity).|
|Data Type:||Primary and Secondary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
Illegal filesharing on the internet leads to considerable financial losses for artists and copyright owners as well as producers and sellers of music. Thus far, measures to contain this phenomenon have been rather restrictive. However, there are still a considerable number of illegal systems, and users are able to decide quite freely between legal and illegal downloads because the latter are still difficult to sanction. Recent economic approaches account for the improved bargaining position of users. They are based on the idea of revenue-splitting between professional sellers and peers. In order to test such an innovative business model, the study reported in this article carried out an experiment with 100 undergraduate students, forming five small peer-to-peer networks. The networks were confronted with different economic conditions. The results indicate that even experienced filesharers hold favourable attitudes towards revenue-splitting. They seem to be willing to adjust their behaviour to different economic conditions.
Main Results of the Study
- As a partial result,it can be noted that distinct differences exist in the care invested in choosing download material between those users who have no costs whatsoever for a download,and those who have to pay.This result indicates that under real conditions,not all files which are downloaded illegally from the internet would be saleable.Therefore,on no account can the number of illegally-acquired files be treated as commensurate with music industry losses.The reason why there are no significant differences between those groups with different payment conditions lies,among other things,in the experimental design,which had to allow for restrictions to the duration of the simulation period and the consistent budget of €75.Certainly,studies over a longer period of time with variable budgets would yield more vivid results.
- Differences between the groups can provide clues as to the effect of economic incentives on users’willingness to cooperate in an anticipatory manner.While downloads from the commercial provider do not lead to financial gains for any participating user,the users in groups 25:75, 50:50 and 75:25 profited from downloads by other users.Therefore,the tests on group differences can be looked upon as rough partial tests of the distribution revenue model.
- Looking at the users’interactions,there are several indications that social norms are at work:a closer inspection of the log file data reveals that almost all users in the revenue-sharing conditions began the simulation period by immediately buying songs from the commercial provider,i.e.they spent (virtual) money in order to establish a common basis for further exchange.After a very short period of time (about three minutes in each condition) they began to download songs from other participants without being addressed by them first.It can be assumed that they did so because they believed that other users would download from their account in the future.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
- This study confirms that users – at least under experimental conditions – show a willingness to cooperate and take future profits of their own into account.The strategy observed in the experiment more or less resembles the cooperation part of the ‘tit for tat’strategy well known from game theory (Axelrod,1990).In the long run,all users benefit from a cooperative strategy,as they would miss out on financial benefits if they did not cooperate.Therefore,a cooperative strategy can be regarded as the most effective choice economically.Moreover,these systems could be interesting for users who want to make a profit by building up an extensive database in order to resell their files.
- According to the authors, the explorative study has severe limitations and only parts of the theoretical ideas discussed above are covered by the data.It was unable to investigate a number of factors that also might have a decisive impact on user behaviour. Further experimental research might consider factors such as unlimited time,a larger number of participants,the integration of chatrooms,new ways of distribution (including cellphones and personal digital assistants (PDAs)),real budgets and real songs.While the participants more or less behaved according to the theoretical idea in a 30-minute simulation period,long-term online experiments might clarify whether or not some users drop out of the system because they are never addressed, while other users emerge as new big players within the system. In this context it would be interesting to see how other users’attitudes towards new big players develop.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Students|
|Period of material under study:||Not stated|