Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Holidays!

Enjoy the festivities folks, wherever you are.

If you can.

Long gone (via some blips) is the tradition of the Christmas number one.

2013 will see major posts on the blog switching from bi-weekly to monthly. Rest assured though, they will be meatier than a stuffed Christmas turkey. In between will be more informal posts with personal musings and links.

Below, find a rare performance of the Pearl Jam Holiday song 'Let me sleep'.

Happy Holidays!

Occasional Tweetage between chocolate scoffing @musicpiracyblog

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Links between music piracy and live music

An under-researched phenomenon, how live music ties in with music piracy is the focus of this post.

Gayer and Shy (2006) argue that demand for live performances is reduced when piracy is prevented. Given the recent boom of interest in live music, and with the main source of income for artists generally being through live music (Connolly and Krueger, 2006), such an arguement would suggest that it is in the interests of musicians to give their music away for free.

However, not only do some genres not lend themselves particularly well to a live setting, but it isn't a viable alternative to profiting from recorded music. It is also environmentally unsustainable. Plus, recorded music sells live music. As an experience good, music must be heard and enjoyed before a fan will consider making a ticket purchase. Recorded music must first exist, and recording a good quality album is not free.

Mortimer, Nosko and Sorensen (2010) note the decline in album sales is greater for large artists than for small artists, where it is believed that part of the decline in profit from traditional sources may be counterbalanced by increased demand for complementary goods (consider Pearl Jams recent PJ20 series*). When you consider the concept of an artists stage in the game as also mediating how best to distribute music (as discussed in a previous blog post) and what you end up with is a complicated relationship between recorded and live music, but a relationship nonetheless.

And one which should be explored in more detail in future research.

Twitter feed now live @musicpiracyblog

Connolly, M. and Krueger, A.B. (2006). Chapter 20 Rockonomics: The Economics of Popular Music. Handbook on the Economics of Art and Culture, 1, 667‐719. 

Gayer, A. and Shy, O. (2006). Publishers, artists, and copyright enforcement. Information Economics and Policy, 18, 374-384.

Mortimer, J.H. Nosko, C. and Sorensen, A. (2010). Supply Responses to Digital Distribution: Recorded Music and Live Performances [working paper].#

* For lovingly in depth reviews of the PJ20 series, see the links below.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Recommended books #2

Further to previous discussion on some readers having limited access to journal articles, please find below some more recommended books which you should be able to access.

Hinduja, S. (2006). Music Piracy and Crime Theory. New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing.

Higgins, G.E. and Marcum, C.D. (2011). Digital Piracy: An Integrated theoretical approach. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

The 2011 book is particularly recommended as it is not only most recent, but brings together theoretical underpinnings to piracy engagement. It's also a quick read.

The authors also have many relevant publications in open-access journals (free to view). Do a Google search and find their personal webpages which links you directly to them.

Occasional Tweetage @musicpiracyblog

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Give Tweets a chance..

A careful look at the stats on this blog reveals almost 1000 page views a month, which is fantastic.

The whole point of this blog is to try and communicate research findings on music piracy to the general public and as such, the more hits the better. However, the accompanying Twitter account is not proving to be quite so popular. This is most likely my fault, as I'm not that into it and don't re-tweet or use hashtags very often. I'm usually too busy grooming or eating crisps.

If you follow this blog and also use Twitter, or know of a Twitter user who you think might be interested, add @musicpiracyblog to your 'following' list.

While the blog focusses on research, the Twitter account is more of a resource for directing you to links so you can read further on what other people are saying on the cultural, commercial and legal side of things.

Go on.

Give Tweets a chance.

Twitter feed online @musicpiracyblog with daily updates.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Special issues of major Journals dedicated to research on music piracy

And returning to a focus on why we are all here, research on music piracy, there is a Special Issue on Consuming the ‘Illegal’: Situating Online Piracy in Everyday Experience scheduled to appear in the February 2013 edition of the Journal 'Convergence'. See and

Looking forward to seeing what comes out of that. Keep your eyes peeled.

In the meantime, why not check out the Special edition of the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services on 'The Future of Music Retailing' from March last year? See

There are some particularly excellent qualitative studies in there.

The fact that entire editions of major peer-reviewed Academic Journals such as those listed above are being committed to this issue is a testament to its popularity and prevalence in research circles.

Given that much research is directly and/or indirectly funded by the public, it seems only fair for the public to be informed of the findings of such research. In other words, click the links above! You will be able to read the abstract summaries of the studies at the very least.

Such an argument brings us neatly back to where we started and why this blog was created where discussion must still centre on how content is paid for - not whether or not it should have to be paid for. Knowledge isn't free and all that..

Twitter feed now live @musicpiracyblog with daily tweets.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Open-access article on Nine Inch Nails and how to make the most of the Internet to serve your fans

Turns out the Internet isn't necessary the enemy after all.

If you hop on over to the open-access Journal 'Empirical Musicology Review' you will be able to read an article titled 'Artist autonomy in a digital era: The case of Nine Inch Nails'. It goes into some depth on the recent marketing and distribution methods employed, critiquing Mike Masnick's (2009) business model of 'reason to buy' plus 'connect with fans' as accounting for the success enjoyed by Nine Inch Nails. Oh, and it was written by me.

An accessible read, it also has some take-home messages for new bands and how they can best achieve success in an increasingly segmented marketplace, with content on how different strategies work better for bands depending on their 'stage in the game'.

A PDF version of the article can be downloaded here.

If you haven't already seen it, watch Masnick's (2009) inspirational presentation linked above. The article won't make much sense if you haven't seen it.

Twitter feed online @musicpiracyblog with occasional Tweetage on all things music piracy


Brown, S.C. (2011). Artist autonomy in a digital era: The case of Nine Inch Nails. Empirical Musicology Review, 6(4), 198-213.

Masnick, M. (2009). How Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails Represent the Future of the Music Business.
Presentation given at 2009 Midem and Midemnet, Cannes, France.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Who is the most pirated artist in your area?

In case you missed it..

BBC Technology reporter Dave Lee's recent article discusses data collected from monitoring service Musicmetric as part of the inaugural digital music index. By monitoring the locations of BitTorrent users, the results shed light on downloading trends across the UK.

Ultimately, the data documents the overwhelming desire to illegally source recent music releases, where Lee speculates on the likely impact of broadband speeds and towns with large student populations as contributing towards the various downloading trends across UK cities.

If you click this link you will also be able to search for the most pirated artist in your area. Go on, have a look. SPOILER ALERT: In all likelihood, it will be Ed Sheeran.

The data collected is also available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license and can be accessed here.

Occasional Tweets @musicpiracyblog between meals, naps and major life events

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Spotlight on predictive factors: Age

We've looked at gender.. now it's time to consider age.

And yup, you guessed it. It's those pesky youngsters who are more likely to engage in music piracy.

Honing in on just one key study, demographic factors were explored by Mishra, Akman and Yacizki (2006) where age and experience were defined as predictive factors of digital piracy.

Why might this be? Are older people merely less likely to engage in piracy as they lack computer experience? Or is there something more complicated going on?

Age as a predictor is far from a consistent finding, where the majority of studies have focussed on student populations. As such, the trend may be slightly skewed. Furthermore, not every study exploring age has come to the same conclusion. 

It does sound intuitive, where anecdotally, there are a few obvious reasons why music pirates may well be predominantly younger. You may be able to think of some new ones. 

The UK government certainly seems to be hung up on 'young people', with Lord Peter Mandelson (the then Business Secretary) stating: “The fact that young people now expect to download content for free is morally as well as economically unstable” (BBC, 2009).

What do you think?

Ask around. Do you notice any consistent age differences?


BBC (2009). Net pirates to be 'disconnected'. 

Mishra, A., Akman, I. and Yazici, A. (2006). Software piracy amongst IT professionals in organizations. International Journal of Information Management, 26(5), 402-413.

Twitter feed online @musicpiracyblog with daily updates.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Recommended books #1

For those of you interested in reading some books on music piracy, please see the reference list below to inform Google searches.

Craig, Honick and Burnett's (2005) book can be found on Google Books here and contains a good history of software piracy section, with a focus on the technical side of things.

Wikstrom's (2009) book contains an illuminating section on 'the social and creative music fan' along with informed speculation on the future of the music industry.

David's (2010) book provides a comprehensive timeline on Napster, and the subsequent fallout. The author also presents six case studies, citing different optimal strategies to promote and distribute music depending an artists 'stage in the game'.

Oh, and a novel about music piracy and aliens.. by Reid (2010) which has received positive reviews as a humorous social commentary on piracy and novel in its own right.

Recommended articles infrequently on the official Twitter feed @musicpiracyblog.

Twitter feed now live @musicpiracyblog with daily updates.


Craig, P., Honick, R. and Burnett, M. (2005). Software Piracy Exposed. Rockland, MA: Syngress Publishing.

David, M. (2010). Peer to Peer and the Music Industry. London: Sage.

Reid, R. (2012). Year Zero: A novel. New York: Ballantine Books.

Wikstrom, P. (2009). The Music Industry: Music in the Cloud. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Spotlight on deterrents: Good cop VS. Bad cop

A recent news article highlighted 'the Streisand effect', which explains how censorship can backfire.

Coined in 2005 by Michael Masnick (President and CEO of Floor64 and CEO and founder of Techdirt), Masnick coined the phrase in a blog entry as a response to the singer's attempts to censor images of her house appearing on the Internet. This inadvertently attracted infinitely more attention to the images than if she took no legal action.

The article linked above (and referenced below), explains how The Pirate Bay received a record amount of traffic after 5 UK ISP's were ordered to block access to the copyright-infringing website.


Traditional anti-piracy campaigns focus on the punitive measures which will be set in motion, if caught illegally downloading. d'Astous, Colbert and Montpetit (2005) observed that anti-piracy arguments had no significant impact on the behavioural dynamics underlying on-line music piracy, where a recent addition to the literature is Nandedkar and Midha's (2012) paper, suggesting that individuals holding an optimism bias engage in piracy as they believe to be of lower risk than other populations.

Elsewhere, Djekic and Loebbecke (2007) observed that technical protections fail in protecting application software from being illegally copied with none of the measures studied significantly reducing piracy. Indeed, Marshall (2004) remarks that technical solutions are 'not the answer' (p.8).

The focal point of this blog entry however, is the paper 'Preventing Digital Music Piracy: The Carrot or the Stick?' by Sinha and Mandel (2008). Their findings from three studies demonstrated that negative incentives are only a strong deterrent for certain consumers but can actually increase the propensity to pirate for others. Conversely, positive incentives, such as improved functionality, were observed to significantly reduce the tendency to pirate among all the consumer segments studied; with 56% of Swedish file-sharers citing Spotify as the reason they had curbed their habit (Jones, 2011).

Bad Cop 0.. Good Cop 1?

What do you think?

Twitter feed now live @musicpiracyblog with daily updates.


Cacciottolo, M. (2012). The Streisand Effect: When censorship backfires [online]. Available from: [Accessed June 16, 2012].

d’Astous, A., Colbert, F. and Montpetit, D. (2005). Music Piracy on the Web - How Effective Are Anti-Piracy Arguments? Evidence From the Theory of Planned Behaviour. Journal of Consumer Policy, 28, 289-310.

Jones, S. (2011, January). The Swede taste of success. Music Week. Retrieved from

Masnick, M. (2005). Re: Since When is Is It Illegal To Just Mention A Trademark Online? [Web log message]. Retrieved from:

Marshall, L. (2004). Metallica and Morality: The Rhetorical Battleground of the Napster Wars. Entertainment and Sports Law Journal, 1, 1-3.

Nandedkar, A. and Midha, V. (2012). It won't happen to me: An assessment of optimism bias in music piracy. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(1),41-48.

Sinha, R.K. and Mandel, N. (2008). Preventing Digital Music Piracy: The Carrot or the Stick? Journal of Marketing, 72(1), 1-15.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Guest blog post on Live Music Exchange: Anatomy of a gig

Hop on over to the excellent Live Music Exchange website to read my recent article as part of their 'Anatomy of a gig' series.

Going beyond the conventions of a normal concert review, the entry discusses a performance of The Wall, as performed by Roger Waters last summer (with David Gilmour appearing for Comfortably Numb).

Nostalgia, issues of value, the business of live music, motivations on live music attendance, the role technology plays in live music.. it's all there. In detail.

A recommended website, Live Music Exchange is a great resource which is worthy of your attention in general.


Twitter feed now live @musicpiracyblog

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Special Post: Newsnight

Two posts in a day? Something special must be happening, right?

You're not wrong.

(Just) ahead of tonight's Newsnight episode on piracy, find the following resources below.

Here, you will find a link to a BBC article titled 'Music Piracy - who's on the moral high ground?'

Here, you will find MusicWeeks related article 'Is Google killing music?'

The debate echoes the recent proposals by IFPI in the 2012 digital report calling for increased co-operation from Internet service providers. It also comes shortly after revelations that the recent blocking of The Pirate Bay had a limited and short-lived impact. An insightful article on this can be found here.

This important and timely Newsnight programme will be available for UK web-users on BBC I-Player.

Twitter feed now live @musicpiracyblog with updates when there's not a new Batman film coming out

Stage in the game: Why giving away music for free doesn't work for everybody

A recent trend in music piracy literature concerns the 'stage in the game' for artsts. Effectively, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to distribution music anymore.

It's far more complicated.

Indeed Regner, Barria, Pitt and Neville (2009) illustrate that different business models appear to be optimal at different stages of an artists’ career. Furthermore, David (2010) references six case studies, citing different practices for bands starting out in the business, presently superstars and ‘beyond that stage’ (p.154). Additionally, piracy has been shown to affect artists differently (Piolatto and Schuett, 2012; Mortimer, Nosko and Sorensen, 2010).

This finding, in conjunction with the overwhelming volume of ways in which to access digital music makes for a thoroughly complicated machine indeed.

With reference to his successful distribution of Ghosts I-IV and The Slip, Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor states: ‘The steps we’ve taken.. I think, have gotten closer to something that approaches a business model. It doesn’t work for bands that nobody knows yet’ (Ryan, 2009).

So how do new bands go about distributing their music?

For a case study of Nine Inch Nails' innovative distribution methods (which explores this question in some detail) keep your eyes peeled for a paper entitled 'Artist autonomy in a digital era: The case of Nine Inch Nails' (Brown, in press). For a case study of Radiohead's innovative distribution methods, consult Harbi, Grolleau and Bekir's (in press) paper, listed below.

A link to David's book on Amazon can be found here.

Twitter feed now live @musicpiracyblog with daily updates.


Brown, S.C. (in press). Artist autonomy in a digital era: The case of Nine Inch Nails. Empirical Musicology Review.

David, M. (2010). Peer to Peer and the Music Industry. London: Sage.

Harbi, S.E., Grolleau, G. and Bekir, I. (in press). Substituting piracy with a pay-what-you-want option: does it make sense? European Journal of Law and Economics.

Mortimer, J. H., Nosko, C., and Sorensen, A. (2010). Supply Responses to Digital Distribution: Recorded Music and Live Performances (Working Paper No.16507). Retrieved from National Bureau of Economic Research website:

Piolatto, A. and Schuett, F. (2012). Music piracy: A case of “The Rich Get Rich and the Poorer Get Poorer”. Information Economics and Policy, 24(1), 30-39.

Regner, T., Barria, J.A., Pitt, J. and Neville, B. (2009). An Artist Life-Cycle Model for Digital Media Content: Strategies for the Light Web and the Dark Web. Electronic Commerce Research And Applications, 8, 334-342.

Ryan, K. (2009). Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails [online]. Available from:,32806 [Accessed Feb 12, 2011].

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

What pirates actually SAY

While much research on music piracy has employed survey methodology, there is an alternative approach..

Actually talking to music pirates.

There are very few studies which have adopted a qualitative approach, employing discourse analysis rather than statistical analysis. This probably stems from a combination of a traditional preference for quantitative analysis (itself a likely offshoot of learning Mathematics in School, not Discourse Analysis) and difficulty in securing ethical approval for studies which demand investigation of illegal activity.

Qualitative research has risen in popularity in recent years, with increasingly more sophisticated approaches including Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) helping to minimise the perceived subjectivity of interpreting qualitative data, as compared to quantitative data. In a nutshell, quantitative research learns a little about a lot of participants, where qualitative learns a lot about a far small number of participants.

To hone in on just two qualitative studies, we quickly learn from Holt and Copes (2010) that piracy engagement is a largely considered activity, not impulsive as with much criminal activity. This complements quantitative research which has found piracy engagement to be consistent with the theory of planned behaviour (see d'Astous, Colbert and Montpetit, 2005). The research by Holt and Copes (2010) also shows how through online interaction, pirates learn the norms and values of digital piracy, including how to minimise the risks associated with illegal downloading. On how to spot fake files, one participant comments:

"A good way is just to look at the seeders, I always do that. If a torrent has 10,000+ seeds and the next in the list only has 700+ then it is a 100% fraud, even if the 10,000+ have zero comments and the 700+ have 100+ comments".

Elsewhere, Nutall, Arnold, Carless, Crockford, Finnamore, Frazier and Hill (2011) identified different 'tribes' with unique characteristics. These include: loyalists, experience seekers, preachers, conventionalists, revolutionists and techys. Loyalists, for example were noted as placing their favourite artists on a pedestal, purchasing their albums on blind faith without reviewing them first. Acknowledging an overlap between tribes, the authors also observed key themes including the effect of fan loyalty on attitudes and downloading behaviours. Several participants described the strength of their affiliation to particular artists as encouraging legal sales because they 'owe it' to the them.

The few qualitative studies which have been conducted in this research area have been illuminating, both supporting previous findings and adding new ones.

What do you think about this approach? Do you think future research would do well to pursue a qualitative approach?

Twitter feed online @musicpiracyblog with daily updates.


d’Astous, A., Colbert, F. and Montpetit, D. (2005). Music Piracy on the Web - How Effective Are Anti-Piracy Arguments? Evidence From the Theory of Planned Behaviour. Journal of Consumer Policy, 28, 289-310.

Holt, T.J. and Copes, H. (2010). Transferring Subcultural Knowledge On-Line: Practices and Beliefs of Persistent Digital Pirates. Deviant Behavior, 31(7), 625-654.

Nutall, P., Arnold, S., Carless, L. Crockford, L. Finnamore, K., Frazier, R. and Hill, A. (2011). Understanding music consumption through a tribal lens. Journal of Retail and Consumer Services, 18, 152-159.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Tired of waiting for that US Box office hit to hit your local theatre? Why not..

In light of the previous post (see below) where I remarked on many of the readers of musicpiracyresearchblog being unable to access the articles cited previously, it's time to take a dive into movie piracy. Why? You can access a full article on movie piracy here.

Discussed elsewhere, the paper by Danaher and Waldfogel explains how they successfully employed a statistical analysis of primary data on Box office returns to demonstrate that the staggered release strategy employed by the movie industry (where Hollywood movies are typically released in USA first) encourages illegal downloading.

The paper explains three principal reasons why this approach is adopted, where elsewhere George Lucas has went on record to explain that simultaneously releasing films in cinemas and to buy on DVD/Blu-Ray would satisfy different audiences.

The focus of this blog is of course music piracy, where it is the industry which is thought to be affected the most - a likely bi-product of the much smaller file sizes of individual songs as compared to movies. Much can be learned from related research on movie piracy, however.

In this particular instance, it is also learned that movies in the action and sci-fi genre are over-represented in pirate form, where an assumption flowing on from here would be that such genres are enjoyed more by males. This would fit with research on piracy overall, which suggests young males to be the principal advocates of piracy.

Do you think it's time to abandon this staggered approach to releasing films?

Also, while we are on the subject of movie piracy, find below a TED Talk presentation (mentioned in the last post) about 'copyright math' which expresses the difficulties in measuring economic losses through piracy.

Twitter feed now live @musicpiracyblog with daily updates.


Article cited above is a working paper at time of blog post. Both authors have personal web pages, where it is encouraged you contact them ahead of any formal citations of their research.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Advice on accessing articles

Starting to receive emails now with many readers unable to access some of the journal articles cited on this blog. Please note, I am unable to forward specific articles to you. Articles can be bought individually.
I have decided in light of this flurry of emails to go into more detail on some future blog entries. Look out for 'In depth' in the titles for future entries where I will explain more comprehensively the methodologies and materials used in select studies. is a great website which does a far better job at summarising scientific articles, where sadly, there isn't much on there in the way of music piracy research aside from this excellent article which demonstrates how the removal of DRM restrictions may reduce piracy. This sort of research would fall under the previously mentioned broad area that is 'deterrents' which will be considered in future blog posts.

Also, please see which presents excellent presentations by researchers and public figures (freely available to the public) including a recent addition where the concept of copyright math is proposed. It highlights the difficulties in measuring losses due to piracy. TED can also be found on Twitter @TEDTalks

I also direct you to the UK governments January 2012 POSTnote publication (short briefing notes by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology) by Chadrika Nath, which calls for open access to scientific information. It is a big discussion point just now, with an article in The Psychologist May 2012 magazine also calling for access to such information for journalists, to check and confirm findings before publishing.

If this is something you want to discuss, please email me or leave a comment. Twitter feed also now online @musicpiracyblog

For now, please see the 'Resources' page above with some general advice on searching for articles online, where you should be able to find out more by simply searching for articles on Google using good keywords.

Hope this information is useful and worthwhile.

 Twitter feed online @musicpiracyblog with daily updates.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Spotlight on predictive factors: Gender

A large volume of the scientific literature on piracy concerns predictive factors and deterrents. In other words, who it is getting their hands on copyrighted content for free and how we can stop them from doing it.

As has been mentioned in a previous post, the general rule in research is that if a trend keeps emerging from different datasets, then it is considered to be true. If different researchers explore the same phenomenon using different measurements, exploring different samples and they keep finding the same thing, well.. it's probably true. Such is the case with gender as a predictive factor in music piracy research.

And yup, you guessed it. It's males who are the culprit. 

To briefly discuss the findings from a few studies, Nel, Raubenheimer and Bounagui (2009) identified gender as a moderating variable in the intention to purchase music downloads. Also, Kini, Ramakrishna and Vijayamaran (2004) identified males as more likely to engage in software piracy. More interestingly, in terms of trying to understand why this gender difference exists, Malin and Flowers (2009) note males as having more favourable attitudes towards piracy than females. How does this help us better understand the gender difference? Well, Taylor, Ishida and Wallace (2009) established that attitudes towards the act of piracy to be a predictive factor of actual engagement. 

Surely anti-piracy strategies would do well to try and alter attitudes towards music piracy then? Such was the successful approach in the UK with smoking long before the smoking ban came into effect.

Why might males be more favourable towards piracy though? Two alternative, yet equally controversial suggestions are given below.

1 Males are more tech-savvy

Ample support exists for such a claim where it is thought to be the increased confidence males have with technology (from their increased experience) that empowers them to engage in the risky activity that is piracy. Alternatively, females relative lack of knowledge and confidence contributes towards their reluctance to do so.

2 Males are more immoral

The subject of the previous blog entry, support also exists for this claim where females consistently outperform males on various measures of moral reasoning. This may stem from their greater empathising skills where females are more considerate of the consequences their actions will have on others, thus making piracy engagement unattractive.

Age as a predictive factor is on the cards for a future blog post, but for now, ask a few friends why they do or do not engage in piracy. You are guaranteed to hear all sorts of different responses. 

Go on, ask around. Do you notice any consistent gender differences?

Twitter feed online @musicpiracyblog with daily updates.


Malin, J. and Flowers, J.B. (2009). Adolescent self-control and music and movie piracy. Computers in Human Behaviour, 25, 718-722.

Kini, R.B., Ramakrishna, H.V. and Vijayaraman, B.S. (2004). Shaping of moral intensity regarding software piracy: A comparison between Thailand and US students. Journal of Business Ethics, 49(1), 91-104.

Nel, J., Raubenheimer, J. and Bounagui, M. (2009). Gender differences in purchase intention of music downloads. Management Dynamics, 18(3), 25-36.

Taylor, S., Ishida, C. and Wallace, D. (2009) Intention to engage in digital piracy: a conceptual model and empirical test. Journal of Service Research, 11(3), 246-262.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Arr pirates' moral compasses way off?

Piracy has been described as "morally as well as economically unstable” (Lord Mandelson, cited in BBC, 2009).

This is from the man who set the recent changes in UK law into motion. But is there any truth to it?

Maybe so.

First of all, Marshall (2004) argues illegal downloading/file-sharing is not theft, but rather copyright infringement and that statutorily and practically they are very different. It's generally accepted that stealing is wrong, but copyright infringement? That sounds complicated.. Even theft is messy, where stealing office stationary for example, is normalised enough to be tolerated. Morality is unfixed.

As far as music piracy research goes, the results certainly sway in favour of the argument that those who download music illegal are immoral. But as Stephen Fry commented in his speech at the 2009 I-Tunes festival (discussed in previous blog entry below) this does not mean they have crossed a line into criminality, with no way back.

To briefly consider the findings from just a few scientific papers, the moral intensity of students has been shown to vary cross-culturally, thought to account to account for differing piracy rates (Kini, Ramakrishna and Vijayaraman, 2004) with Al-Rafee and Rouibah (2009) observing religion as a predictor of reducing piracy.

This is all very good, but the question begs: 'How does one measure morality?'

Many studies use questionnaire-items which pose moral dilemmas, where morality is often measured in accordance with a famous model of moral reasoning by Lawrence Kohlberg. Hunt down the articles if you are interested in the methodologies used.

As a general rule though, when the same trend of results appears over several studies using different approaches, then it becomes accepted as probably being a genuine finding. As more and more studies reach the same conclusions, that's where things are headed on this one.

What do you think?

And why all this interest in morality? Well, it could form the basis of future anti-piracy strategies, getting under the skin to change attitudes long-term. Such is the argument by Chiou, Huang and Lee (2005) who remark that a moral focus could be the best approach to tackling the issue, not confusing legal messages or invasive technological advancements, with artists appealing to fans on a person to person level via blogging, for example.

Morality can also account for consistent demographic differences, where gender and age will be explored in depth over the next few blog posts.

As Marshall (2004) states: "The Napster wars will not be won by law or economics - even if Napster is shut down, new possibilities for online piracy will emerge. Technical solutions are therefore not the answer. The Napster wars can only be won by morality. The industry has to persuade the public that infringing copyright on the internet is wrong".

New! Twitter feed online @musicpiracyblog with daily updates.


Al-Rafee, S. and Rouibah, K. (2009). The fight against digital piracy: An
experiment. Telematics and Informatics, 27, 283-292.

BBC (2009). Net pirates to be 'disconnected' [online]. Available from: [Accessed 11 November, 2009].

Chiou, J., Huang, G. and Lee, H. (2005). The antecedents of music piracy attitudes and intentions. Journal of Business Ethics, 57(2), 161-174.

Kini, R.B., Ramakrishna, H.V. and Vijayaraman, B.S. (2004). Shaping of moral intensity regarding software piracy: A comparison between Thailand and US students. Journal of Business Ethics, 49(1), 91-104.

Marshall, L. (2004). Metallica and Morality: The Rhetorical Battleground of the Napster Wars. Entertainment and Sports Law Journal, 1, 1-3.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

'You wouldn't steal a handbag'

When he's not Twittering away, stuck in lifts, the UK's beloved Stephen Fry is a thoroughly good public speaker. He speaks with flair, confidence, eloquence and of course, wit.

One such example is at the 2009 I-Tunes festival, where his illuminating account of the history of copyright as as comprehensive as you will find anywhere.

He goes on to discuss his thoughts on file-sharing in an amusing way where it's really interesting to hear the voice of someone who works in the creative industries. 

It raises some interesting questions, but I direct you there rather as I think it's a good accessible background to set up some of the content to follow on this blog in the coming months.

Available to download for free from his official website:


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

If you don't want to see who is winning in the match between digital and hard copies of music, please look away now..

Available to the public, the IFPI Digital Report 2012 can be found here.

Some findings to stimulate interest can be found below.

Digital music revenues to record companies has grown by 8% globally since last year, where some markets including in the USA deriving over 50% of their profits from digital mediums.

"28 per cent of internet users globally access unauthorised services on a monthly basis, according to IFPI. Around half of these are using peer-to-peer (P2P) networks.  The other half are using other non-P2P unauthorised channels which are a fast-growing problem" (p.2 of 'Facts and Figures').

The report goes into depth on the relative success of recent anti-piracy initiatives internationally, including site blocking. The next big thing reads to be increased involvement from Internet Service Providers.

It's a fantastic read, where it really paints a bright future for the music industry, charting the rise of subscription services.

The PDF also lists the most comprehensive database of legitimate music services, globally. There are around 500, in 78 different countries. Here in the UK, there are around 70 in addition to the big boys such as Spotify, Deezer and I-Tunes..

Why not check out Rara or Boomkat?


This blog aims to bring together the findings from research into music piracy as well as introducing general discussion points around the topic.

Furthermore, commentaries on ongoing technological and legislative changes will be presented along with relevant links to encourage further reading.

It is hoped that this resource will help bring attention to the wealth of research which has been conducted over the last decade to the right audience: you.