Recent or Free? An Experimental Study of the Motivations for Pirating Movies
38 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2020
Date Written: 2019
The emergence of online providers aggregating illegal content from streaming platforms is rekindling the debate about online piracy. In the past, the discussion mainly focused on the impact of piracy in content industries and the effect of anti-piracy measures. But little is known about one crucial aspect of piracy: consumers' motivations to use illegal channels. Yet, understanding consumers' behavior could help practitioners and policymakers to allocate their resources better to fight online piracy. In this paper, we fill this gap by focusing on two main motives for the illegal consumption of online content: paying lower (zero) prices and having access to content that is not available in legal channels. To disentangle the role of each motivation in consumers' choice, we ran a laboratory experiment with real consumption, a methodology that provides participants with incentives to reveal their true preferences about consumption while controlling for the choice environment and the consideration set. Our results suggest that consumers turn to illegal channels primarily to save on the price of content, and that they are less sensitive to the availability of content in legal and illegal channels. We discuss the implications of our findings for practitioners and policymakers.
Keywords: piracy, digitization, movies, free, release windows, experiment
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation