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It is a theft but not a crime

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  • Balestrino, Alessandro

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. However, there also exists 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 anti-piracy social norms.

Suggested Citation

  • Balestrino, Alessandro, 2008. "It is a theft but not a crime," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 455-469, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:24:y:2008:i:2:p:455-469
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paul Belleflamme & Pierre M. Picard, 2007. "Piracy and Competition," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(2), pages 351-383, June.
    2. Alessandro Balestrino, "undated". "Tax Avoidance, Endogenous Social Norms, and the Comparison Income Effect," EPRU Working Paper Series 05-15, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Dec 2005.
    3. Josef Falkinger, 2004. "Noncooperative Support of Public Norm Enforcement in Large Societies," CESifo Working Paper Series 1368, CESifo Group Munich.
    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. George A. Akerlof, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of which Unemployment may be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-775.
    6. Dufwenberg, Martin & Lundholm, Michael, 2001. "Social Norms and Moral Hazard," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 506-525, July.
    7. Martin Peitz & Patrick Waelbroeck, 2005. "An Economist's Guide to Digital Music," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 51(2-3), pages 359-428.
    8. 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.
    9. Martin Peitz & Patrick Waelbroeck, 2003. "Piracy of Digital Products: A Critical Review of the Economics Literature," CESifo Working Paper Series 1071, CESifo Group Munich.
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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. Alessandro Balestrino, 2012. "Taxes, Status Goods, and Piracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 3704, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Anna Maria Bagnasco, 2012. "Economia della pirateria filmica: una ricerca esplorativa," ECONOMIA E DIRITTO DEL TERZIARIO, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2012(3), pages 433-448.
    4. Traxler, Christian & Winter, Joachim, 2012. "Survey evidence on conditional norm enforcement," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 390-398.
    5. repec:dau:papers:123456789/6913 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Alessandro Balestrino, 2014. "Large Taxes, Status Goods, and Piracy," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 70(1), pages 97-115, March.
    7. Wojciech Hardy & Michal Krawczyk & Joanna Tyrowicz, 2015. "Friends or foes? A meta-analysis of the link between "online piracy" and sales of cultural goods," Working Papers 2015-23, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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