„Piracy is not theft!” Is it just students who think so?

A fair share of studies analyzing “online piracy” are based on easily accessible student samples. However, it has been argued that the youths tend to have more lax social and ethical norms concerning both property rights and online behavior. In this study we present the results of a vignette experiment, i.e. a scenario survey where responders are asked to provide an ethical judgment on different forms of unauthorized acquisition of a full season of a popular TV series described in a number of hypothetical stories. The survey is conducted both on a student sample and on a sample of individuals who openly endorse protection of intellectual property rights for cultural goods. In this way we can investigate the possibly limited external validity of studies relying solely on the student samples. The vignette experiment concerned ethical evaluation of unauthorized acquisition of cultural content in both virtual and real context and was focused on six dimensions previously identified as relevant to the ethical judgment. Surprisingly, we found that the rules for the ethical judgment do not differ between our samples, suggesting that the social norms on “online piracy” follow similar patterns in student and in other populations. Findings from studies relying on ethical or moral judgments of students may thus be valid in a much broader population.

@article{krawczyk2015piracy, title={“Piracy is not theft!” Is it just students who think so?}, author={Krawczyk, Michal and Tyrowicz, Joanna and Kukla-Gryz, Anna and Hardy, Wojciech}, journal={Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics}, volume={54}, pages={32--39}, year={2015}, }