Demographic Factors Affecting Freshman Students' Attitudes towards Software Piracy: An Empirical Study

Article excerpt

Introduction

According to BSA, "Software piracy is the unauthorized copying or distribution of copyrighted software." Softlifting is accepted as the most common type of software piracy. It refers to illegal copying and sharing of legally licensed software (Rahim, Seyal, & Rahman, 2001; Simpson, Banerjee, & Simpson, 1994). The Sixth Annual BSA and IDC Global Software Piracy Study examined PC software piracy rates across 110 countries and reported that 41% of software installed on computers worldwide was pirated in 2008, with estimated losses at $53 billion (BSA and IDC, 2009). According to this report, piracy rate was 64 percent in Turkey, and that caused $468 million loss in 2008. Software piracy problem is worldwide phenomenon. Software piracy occurs not only in developing countries, but also in developed countries (Law & Wong, 2005). For example, piracy rates of Canada and France in 2008 were reported as 32% and 41%, respectively. Even though the United States had the lowest piracy rate (20% in 2008), worldwide software piracy caused losses of $9,143 million to the United States in 2008 (BSA and IDC, 2009).

As the use of computers and the Internet has increased dramatically, so has the illegal and unethical usage of these technologies. Even though Internet has become an essential tool for education and entertainment in the life of students, it is widely accepted that the spread of the Internet has facilitated growth of a variety of crimes, such as digital piracy (Gan & Koh, 2006; Hinduja, 2001; Holt & Morris, 2009; Van der Byl & Van Belle, 2008). The advances in computer technology and the Internet have made it possible for people to access, store, change, and transmit the information much easier and faster than it used to be. However, these advantages have made also unethical behaviors much easier, particularly among students in academic settings (Abdul Karim, Zamzuri, & Nor, 2009).

Software piracy has become an important problem for businesses and educational institutions (Hinduja, 2001), and continues as a variety of legal, economical and ethical issues. Studies show that software piracy in higher educational institutions is common and students perceive the use of unlicensed software as an acceptable behavior (Christensen & Eining, 1991; Cohen & Cornwell, 1989; Konstantakis, Palaigeorgiou, G., Siozos, P. & Tsoukalas, 2005; Law & Wong, 2005; Rawlinson & Lupton, 2007; Siegfried, 2004; Siegfried & Ashley, 2006).

Literature Review

There has been an increasing amount of literature about software piracy and other unethical uses of information technologies in the educational institutions. A considerable amount of these studies have investigated the relationship between software piracy and undergraduate students.

The results from previous studies suggest that most university students do not view software piracy as an unethical practice. Konstantakis et al. (2005) surveyed 79 freshman students of a Computer Science Department and found that all students illegitimately use or copy software that is protected by intellectual property rights. Cohen and Cornwell (1989) found from the results of the survey study of 309 students that 58% of the students had personally pirated. Cohen and Cornwell (1989) reported that an overwhelming majority of students feel that software piracy is an acceptable behavior and also many students feel that it is okay for them to pirate software. Christensen and Eining (1991) investigated unethical copying of software among accounting students in the United States and found that of the 139 students who owned computers, seventy-three percent reported engaging in software piracy and students' knowledge of the laws appeared to have little impact on piracy behavior. They also found that individuals do not perceive software piracy as an inappropriate behavior and that they do not believe that their friends and superiors think it is inappropriate. …