Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 80, Issue 2, pp 349–365 | Cite as

Ethical Decisions About Sharing Music Files in the P2P Environment

  • Rong-An ShangEmail author
  • Yu-Chen Chen
  • Pin-Cheng Chen


Digitized information and network have made an enormous impact on the music and movie industries. Internet piracy is popular and has greatly threatened the companies in these industries. This study tests Hunt-Vitell’s ethical decision model and attempts to understand why and how people share unauthorized music files with others in the peer-to-peer (P2P) network. The norm of anti-piracy, the ideology of free software, the norm of reciprocity, and the ideology of consumer rights are proposed as four deontological norms related to using P2P systems. The model is tested using a scenario survey with four alternatives; the results indicate that the deontological norm of anti-piracy is not a main factor in affecting P2P users’ ethical considerations regarding sharing files with others. This finding suggests that to protect their property rights, record companies should try to realize the consumer benefits brought via new digital and network technology, instead of simply declaring their intellectual property and resisting the innovations resulting from new technologies.


peer-to-peer systems ethical decision model computer ethics music industry consumer ethics 


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This work was supported in part by the National Science Council of Taiwan, R.O.C. under Grant NSC 92-2416-H-031-005. It received the Dragon Thesis Award from the Acer Foundation, Taiwan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Business AdministrationSoochow UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Product Marketing and Management DepartmentZyXEL Communications CorporationHsin-ChuTaiwan

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