Shang, Chen and Chen (2008)
|Shang, Chen and Chen (2008)
|Ethical decisions about sharing music files in the P2P environment
|Shang, R. A., Chen, Y. C., Chen, P. C.
|Shang, R. A., Chen, Y. C., & Chen, P. C. (2008). Ethical decisions about sharing music files in the P2P environment. Journal of Business Ethics, 80(2), 349-365.
|Key Related Studies:
|Hunt, Williams, Nicholas and Rowlands (2009), Nandi and Rochelandet (2008), Yoon (2011)
|About the Data
|Scenario survey conducted with high school and university students face to face in class, with 674 returns and 451 valid responses. Sample composed of 162 junior high school students, 100 senior high school students, and 189 university students. No secondary data sources stated. The authors do not specify a time period for data collection, and they do not specify a funder for the research.
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Digitized information and network have made an enormous impact on the music and movie industries. Internet piracy is popular and has greatly threatened the companies in these industries. This study tests Hunt-Vitell’s ethical decision model and attempts to understand why and how people share unauthorized music files with others in the peer-to-peer (P2P) network. The norm of anti-piracy, the ideology of free software, the norm of reciprocity, and the ideology of consumer rights are proposed as four deontological norms related to using P2P systems. The model is tested using a scenario survey with four alternatives; the results indicate that the deontological norm of anti-piracy is not a main factor in affecting P2P users’ ethical considerations regarding sharing files with others. This finding suggests that to protect their property rights, record companies should try to realize the consumer benefits brought via new digital and network technology, instead of simply declaring their intellectual property and resisting the innovations resulting from new technologies.
Main Results of the Study
The main results reported in this study:*This study tested the Hunt–Vitell model to explore the impacts of multiple norms on users’ ethical decisions about variant ways of using the P2P network to share copyrighted music files.*The results show that deontological evaluations are influenced by the belief in the ideology of consumer rights in all alternatives, and its impacts are larger than most of the other antecedents. Consumer rights may be the major and general cause for sharing music files in the P2P network.*The norm of reciprocity and the ideology of freeware can also motive people to use a free P2P system to sharing music files, but their using free P2P systems is discouraged by their belief in the norm of anti-piracy.*There are several reasons for the weak impact of the belief in the norm of anti-piracy. First, paying the P2P provider may transfer guilt and the problem of piracy to the P2P system provider. People may believe they are doing a good thing for both musicians and consumers by distributing good music, instead of hurting copyright holders. The large numbers on a P2P network and the anonymity of a computer-mediated environment may also create ethical ambiguity and lead to deindividuation. This leads to the negative effects of decreasing self- awareness and stimulating anti-normative behavior.*The Hunt–Vitell model suggests that when behavior and intentions are inconsistent with ethical judgments, one of the consequences will be guilt (Hunt and Vitell, 1986). Unethical behavior, however, like other behaviors, is learned in social interaction. People learn the techniques of neutralization, which is a set of justifications or rationalizations that can insulate people from self-blame when they engage in norm-violating behaviors.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Policy implications reported in the study:*Since consumers can easily rationalize their behavior while copying files from the Internet, simply proclaiming intellectual property rights and the norm of anti-piracy may be ineffective for reducing unauthorized copying.*The popularity of P2P systems that charge may suggest that people would like to pay small fees to reduce their guilt or legal considerations about copying files, even when there is free music on the Internet. The success of iTunes firmly supports this idea.*Companies should try to apply and realize the advantages of new technologies to increase consumers’ benefits, instead of resisting change, simply declaring their rights, and imposing the guilt of piracy on consumers. Consumers may be more willing to respect companies’ intellectual property rights if these companies care more about the welfare of their customers.
Coverage of Study
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