CREATe Working Paper Examines Why People Unlawfully File-share

CREATe’s first Working Paper of 2016 is now available to download. To Pay or Not to Pay? Determinants of Unlawful Product Acquisition by Piers Fleming, Melanie Parravano and Daniel John Zizzo presents a laboratory experiment that systematically investigates the determinants of acquisition behavior with a negative externality on a rights holder. The authors consider social and moral determinants of unlawful behavior as well as standard penalty and punishment risk trade-offs. They find that, while punishment risk and penalty size reduce unlawful behavior, they are not the only determinants that do. Moral determinants matter: there being a victim, and the victim deserving to be the rights holder, makes a difference.  Social norms also matter: controlling for other variables, one point more of social appropriateness increase unlawful behavior by around 30-40%.


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