IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Dynamics of Illegal Participation in Peer-to-Peer Networks—Why Do People Illegally Share Media Files?

Listed author(s):
  • Jan Becker
  • Michel Clement
Registered author(s):

    The rise of peer-to-peer networks starting with Napster in 1999 and later KaZaA and eMule had a substantial impact on the online distribution of media content. Millions of users at any given point of time illegally offer copyright protected files and internalize the cost of their behavior. Whereas it is easy to explain why users download files, it remains an open question as to why they provide data, because it is not necessary to get access to files. This article addresses the issue of why users take the risk and illegally provide files. In a theoretical analysis relying on game theoretical assumptions, this article shows in a dynamic context that users actually do follow a rational strategy by providing files. This article underlines the theoretical assumptions with two empirical studies. The first study researches the individual motives for file sharing by using a structural equation model. Reciprocity is one of the key drivers to offer files. The second study segments users based on their motives into three groups using mixture regressions. The results imply that there is a large segment free riding on their peers. The research also finds a heavy sharer segment that is motivated to share, even at the risk of being sued. This article follows a dynamic perspective in the user's willingness to share that allows researchers to provide implications on the stability of the networks in the long term, because the users' behavior may lead to the collapse of illegal networks.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Media Economics.

    Volume (Year): 19 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 7-32

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:taf:jmedec:v:19:y:2006:i:1:p:7-32
    DOI: 10.1207/s15327736me1901_2
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:jmedec:v:19:y:2006:i:1:p:7-32. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael McNulty)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.