Robertson, Mcneill, Green and Roberts (2012)
|Robertson, McNeill, Green and Roberts (2012)|
|Title:||Illegal Downloading, Ethical Concern, and Illegal Behaviour|
|Author(s):||Robertson, K., McNeill, L., Green, J., Roberts, C.|
|Citation:||Robertson, K., McNeill, L., Green, J., & Roberts, C. (2012). Illegal downloading, ethical concern, and illegal behaviour. Journal of business ethics, 108(2), 215-227.|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||Field survey data from questionnaires completed by a self-selecting sample of 196 young students (93 males and 103 females) at a New Zealand university (2010)
The sample was representative of typical first year students from a range of study areas, and not limited by socio-economic, gender or ethnic differences.
|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:||
Illegally downloading music through peer-to-peer networks has persisted in spite of legal action to deter the behaviour. This study examines the individual characteristics of downloaders which could explain why they are not dissuaded by messages that downloading is illegal. We compared downloaders to non-downloaders and examined whether downloaders were characterized by less ethical concern, engagement in illegal behaviour, and a propensity toward stealing a CD from a music store under varying levels of risk. We also examined whether downloading or individual characteristics of downloaders were similar for men and women. Findings revealed downloading was prevalent (74.5% of the student sample downloaded), men and women were equally likely to download and the factors characterizing downloading were similar for men and women. The comparison between downloaders and non-downloaders revealed downloaders were less concerned with the law, demonstrated by less ethical concern and engagement in other illegal behaviours. Downloaders were also more likely to indicate that they would steal a CD when there was no risk of being caught. Given these results, messages regarding illegality are unlikely to perturb downloaders and alternative recommendations are offered for targeting illegal downloading.
Main Results of the Study
- Downloading music is prevalent. 74.5% of the sampled students downloaded music.
- The factors characterizing downloading are similar for men and women. In this study, both sexes were equally likely to download music.
- In comparison with non-downloaders, downloaders have less concern for the law. The study demonstrated that downloaders had less ethical concern, and engaged in other illegal behaviours.
- Generally, neither downloaders nor non-downloaders were likely to steal a CD, whether there was a risk of being caught or not. However, 20% of downloaders were significantly more likely than non-downloaders to indicate that they would steal a CD when there was no risk of being caught.
- Some downloading is predicted by the belief that no harm is being committed. A lack of ethical concern regarding consumer behaviour in general, rather than ethical attitudes toward pirating specifically, is also associated with downloading.
- Deterrent messages saying that downloading is illegal, or comparing downloading to stealing a CD, are unlikely to deter downloading.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
- Although not explicitly stated by the author as policy implications, the following are relevant:
- Aggressive media coverage of criminal action against illegal downloaders, and focusing on the probability of being caught, may be more effective than just issuing deterrent messages regarding legal fines and legal prosecution. That approach will increase downloaders’ perceptions that there is a high probability of getting caught.
- The finding that downloaders also engage in other illegal behaviour is concerning, and suggests that much illegal behaviour is already normalized in the youth market. This study suggests that downloading and music piracy might already be causing a more general erosion of ethics in society, and might possibly be a precursor to more serious illegal acts.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||University students|
|Period of material under study:||Not stated|