The Role of Restrictiveness of Use in Determining Ethical and Legal Awareness of Unauthorized File Sharing

Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 14(9), 521-549.

30 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2008 Last revised: 19 Jun 2014

See all articles by Jared M. Hansen

Jared M. Hansen

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Eric Walden

Texas Tech University - Area of Information Systems and Quantitative Sciences (ISQS)

Date Written: September 1, 2013

Abstract

A host of different types of information goods are available for free download from illegal file sharing sites. As far as price is concerned, no company can compete against “free.” Hence, managers, researchers, and policy makers are interested in determining factors other than price that might influence consumers’ file sharing behavior. Moral consideration is one factor that might sway individuals to pay for files they could otherwise obtain for free. To help better understand how moral consideration works in the context of file sharing, this research examines how people form perceptions of the legality and ethicalness of downloading music files through file sharing. We propose that when people receive files in a more restrictive manner (e.g. streaming vs. downloading) they are less likely to recognize file sharing as being unethical or illegal. We conduct five studies to test our theory of restrictiveness. The results consistently indicate that consumers’ perceptions of legality and ethicalness of file sharing are associated with restrictiveness of use. In particular, while file sharing with different levels of restrictiveness still transfers intellectual property from one individual to another, increased restrictiveness results in consumers being less likely to identify file sharing as being illegal or unethical. This in turn has a great impact on their actual engagement in the unauthorized file sharing activities. We find the relationships are significant even when controlling for several other elements such as gender, age, income, and prior knowledge about how and where to go on the internet to participate in file sharing.

Keywords: MP3, file sharing downloading, ethics, public policy, intellectual property, restrictiveness, property rights, marketing, copyright, deviance, piracy

Suggested Citation

Hansen, Jared M. and Walden, Eric A., The Role of Restrictiveness of Use in Determining Ethical and Legal Awareness of Unauthorized File Sharing (September 1, 2013). Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 14(9), 521-549., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1311988 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1311988

Jared M. Hansen (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina at Charlotte ( email )

9201 University City Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28223-0001
United States

HOME PAGE: http://belkcollegeofbusiness.uncc.edu/jaredhansen

Eric A. Walden

Texas Tech University - Area of Information Systems and Quantitative Sciences (ISQS) ( email )

Lubbock, TX 79409
United States
806-742-1925 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://ericwalden.net

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