Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

The Cynical Pirate: How Cynicism Effects Music Piracy

Academic journal article Journal of Management Information and Decision Sciences

The Cynical Pirate: How Cynicism Effects Music Piracy

Article excerpt


Since early in the 1990's, software publishers have been concerned about their losses from software piracy. The music recording industry now faces a much larger threat than the software industry. Its very existence is in question as music is extensively pirated through internet downloads and copying CD's. The total cost of pirating music is estimated at $12.5 billion annually, of which $5 billion is a direct cost to the recording industry. The recording industry has experienced dropping profits and has lowered employment because of the effects of music piracy (Blyth, 2008). Many argue that as a result of music piracy, the structure of the industry must change and the era of both big record labels and superstar bands is ending (Dvorak, 2003). Nevertheless, many people, especially college students, do not seem to regard music piracy as unethical. Understanding consumer attitudes may be an important step in developing a solution to the economic problem of music piracy. This study develops a model based on the Theory of Reasoned Action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) to promote further understanding of attitudes toward music piracy and how those attitudes influence music piracy behavior.

Music piracy is a socially accepted illegal practice. Understanding attitudes toward music piracy can lead to greater understanding of people's relationship to their society. It may be useful for the recording industry in determining strategies. It gives greater understanding of a significant phenomenon on college campuses and how it influences students on the campuses. The results of a survey reported in this paper show that the Theory of Reasoned Action is descriptive of attitudes toward music piracy. It finds that college students frequently pirate music and that students' peers have a large influence on their piracy behavior, but that other referent groups do not. However, people that are more cynical toward business are more likely to engage in music piracy than other students.


Both software and digital music are intellectual rights products. A purchaser of software or digital music does not purchase ownership of the software or digital music, but rather purchases the right to use the product. The cost of both products is primarily in the original production; manufacture of multiple copies only slightly increases cost. Piracy consists of copying and/or distributing unlicensed copies of music or software productions. Because both music and software can be copied without physically taking the media on which they are stored, the loss associated with software and digital music piracy differs from traditional theft in that the cost is an opportunity cost of lost sales rather than a physical loss. Software piracy has been a concern for two decades, but music piracy is a comparatively recent problem. Software piracy has been extensively studied, but digital music piracy has not yet been subjected to the same level of research.

Music and software productions are protected by copyright law and electronic copies are further regulated by a variety of laws including the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995, the No Electronic Theft Act of 1997, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (Imfeld & Ekstrand, 2005). The two primary methods employed to pirate music are to copy music from purchased CDs and to download music files from the internet. Music files differ in several significant ways from software files: music files are smaller than software files (and thus more easily copied and transferred), but legal music files are less expensive than software applications; unlike pirated software, pirated copies of music often are inferior to copies legally purchased on CDs (Gopal et al., 2004).

Music piracy is destroying the music industry. Between 2003 and 2006, 800 music stores went out of business (Keen, 2007). Many experts believe that the music industry must change its structure, and that the era of music production is over (Dvorak, 2003). …

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