Intrinsic Adherence to Law: Physical versus Intellectual Property
39 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 10, 2020
Infringement of intellectual property seems to be much more common than infringement of physical property. Intellectual property rights protect goods that are non-rival in consumption, while physical property rights protect rival goods. Non-rivalry implies that the owner suffers no direct harm from infringement. This could explain lower respect for property rights in non-rival goods. To test this hypothesis, we isolate the dimension of rivalry in an experiment. We develop a theft game that offers plausible deniability and minimizes experimenter demand for theft. We find no evidence, neither in behavior nor in social norms, that participants' respect for non-rival goods is lower than for rival goods. To determine whether this indicates absence of evidence or evidence of absence, we use Bayesian factor analysis. The analysis demonstrates evidence of absence. These findings suggest that widespread infringement of intellectual property cannot be explained by its non-rival nature.
Keywords: intellectual property, property, intrinsic motivation, piracy
JEL Classification: C91, K11, K14, O34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation