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It is a Theft but not a Crime

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  • Alessandro Balestrino

Abstract

Why do people who normally refrain from committing illegalities become digital pirates? In this paper we use a theoretical model of digital piracy combined with a game-theoretic mechanism of social norm formation to argue that no social stigma is attached to digital piracy because the latter has no perceived social cost; therefore, there is no pressure to build a norm condemning it. We note the existence of a "sophisticate" form of piracy focused on high-quality copies, and not on Internet downloads and black market purchases of low-quality copies like the most common form. Somewhat paradoxically, sophisticate piracy could help to generate a social attitude against piracy, because it is self-containing. However, it is limited in its scope, and it is difficult to predict whether it might ever become sufficiently widespread to effectively engender the formation of an anti-piracy social norm.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2047.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2047

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Keywords: digital piracy; social norms; conformism;

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References

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  1. Dufwenberg, Martin & Lundholm, Michael, 1997. "Social Norms and Moral Hazard," Working Paper Series 1997:28, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  2. Paul, BELLEFLAMME & Pierre, PICARD, 2005. "Piracy and competition," Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) 2005057, Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques.
  3. George A. Akerlof, 1978. "A theory of social custom, of which unemployment may be one consequence," Special Studies Papers 118, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Myles, Gareth D. & Naylor, Robin A., 1996. "A model of tax evasion with group conformity and social customs," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 49-66, April.
  5. Martin Peitz & Patrick Waelbroeck, 2003. "Piracy of Digital Products: A Critical Review of the Economics Literature," CESifo Working Paper Series 1071, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Banerjee, Dyuti S., 2003. "Software piracy: a strategic analysis and policy instruments," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 97-127, January.
  7. Josef Falkinger, 2004. "Noncooperative Support of Public Norm Enforcement in Large Societies," CESifo Working Paper Series 1368, CESifo Group Munich.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Douhou, Salima & Magnus, Jan R. & van Soest, Arthur, 2011. "The perception of small crime," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 749-763.
  2. Maria Bas & Ivan Ledezma, 2007. "Market Access and the Evolution of within Plant Productivity in Chile," CESifo Working Paper Series 2077, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Alessandro Balestrino, 2012. "Taxes, Status Goods, and Piracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 3704, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Traxler, Christian & Winter, Joachim, 2009. "Survey Evidence on Conditional Norm Enforcement," Discussion Papers in Economics 8992, University of Munich, Department of Economics.

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