Attitudes towards digital piracy: the role of morality

Steven Brown, Kevin Durkin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book


Much empirical research into digital piracy has explored potential predictive factors, where more recently the role of morality has emerged as a major new focus. In an online attitudes survey, the role of moral reasoning was investigated using a mixed design amongst a sample of 188 participants (male 34.6 per cent, female 65.4 per cent) with a mean age of 30.1 (SD=10.3). Participants were randomly allocated to one of four conditions: Easy solution for the public, Negative consequences on the individual (pirate), Negative consequences on the industry and Control, each emphasising different aspects of the debate surrounding digital piracy in a background vignette. All participants were asked questions measuring attitudes towards: Law and Order, Social Order, Principles and Individual Rights in relation to digital piracy. Questions were presented in two biased frames: Pro-Industry and Pro-Piracy. Results demonstrated a significant main effect of condition, along with a significant interaction between condition and moral reasoning where participants allocated to the Easy solution for the public condition scored a statistically higher mean on questions measuring Individual Rights. A significant main effect of moral reasoning was also noted, along with a significant interaction between moral reasoning and bias framing; with participants agreeing more with Pro-Industry framed questions scoring a statistically higher mean on Principles and Individual Rights questions. Limitations and implications are discussed with regards to future anti-piracy strategies in the UK, with comments made on the Digital Economy Act (Her Majesty’s Government in the UK, 2010).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe British Psychological Society Annual Conference 2011 Programme and Abstracts
Place of PublicationLeicester
PublisherBritish Psychological Society
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventBritish Psychological Society Annual Conference 2011 Glasgow - Marriott Hotel, Glasgow
Duration: 4 May 20116 May 2011


ConferenceBritish Psychological Society Annual Conference 2011 Glasgow
Abbreviated title2011 BPS Annual Conference


  • digital piracy
  • morality
  • music


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