The protection of copyrights in the music industry has been of paramount concern as the popularity of digital music players, personal websites, and file-sharing continues to grow, each of which subsequently contributes to the persistence of Internet music piracy. While the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) links file-sharing to copyright piracy, others argue that file-sharing allows maximum exposure of artists’ music which in turn increases its value. While this debate continues, little empirical research has specifically addressed the behavioral aspects of the consumer. In this paper, we use survey data on university students to study how attitudes toward copyright law along with economic and demographic factors affect the extent of music copyright violations. We find that while students are responsive to economic incentives and perceptions of risk, the extent of these incentives has not reversed the overall propensity to engage in file-sharing.
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An abridged version of the survey containing all questions relating to this article is found in Appendix 2.
Though we collected information on students’ majors, initial regression estimates showed that the type of major did not influence patterns of music consumption or how music is acquired. Thus, we do not include this variable in the regression analysis, though we present summary statistics for the purpose of describing the distribution of students surveyed.
Although we ask questions based on file-sharing, CD duplication (music ripping) is also a very common way of “sharing” music. In general, the survey seemed to capture the use of both methods, since the alternative to file-sharing are the legal alternatives. Thus, CD duplication would fall under the same category as file-sharing.
The 2.5% finding was during the 2003–2004 year, when fee-based music services were just starting to develop. This figure is likely to be significantly higher today, though based on industry analysts, not likely to exceed the file-sharing percentage.
The Fairness variable does not appear in Table 2, because Fairness is used in the selection equation for identification purposes. But the effect of Fairness on file-sharing can be observed in the results in Appendix 1. Indeed the coefficient has a negative sign as expected, and is statistically significant at conventional levels for the Probit and Tobit specifications.
The elasticities are readily computed in STATA with the Heckman and MFX procedures.
Since the questions measuring the importance of cost, time, and song selection were only asked of students that admit to file-sharing, we are unable to include these variables in the full regression model estimating the determinants of file-sharing. However, we ran the full model again using the sub-sample of students that answered the question and including the cost, time, and song selection variables. The coefficients for New (percentage of recent music acquired via file-sharing) as follows: Cost: 17.39*** (T-statistic: 3.77); Time: 14.18*** (T-statistic: 3.59); Song Selection: 1.03 (T-statistic: 0.26).
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We wish to thank the Editor and two anonymous referees for their valuable comments on an earlier draft of this article. In addition, we thank the following individuals for their input in the development of this article: Xuemei Jiang, Bill Robinson, Brad Wimmer, Lara Gardner, Patrick Cooper, Mark Bymaster, and seminar participants at Florida Atlantic University, California State University Long Beach, New Mexico State University, University of North Florida, and the 2004 Western Economic Association International Meetings. All remaining errors are ours.
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Chiang, E.P., Assane, D. Determinants of music copyright violations on the university campus. J Cult Econ 31, 187–204 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10824-007-9042-y