Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 78, Issue 4, pp 527–545 | Cite as

Factors that Influence the Intention to Pirate Software and Media

  • Timothy Paul Cronan
  • Sulaiman Al-Rafee


This study focuses on one of the newer forms of software piracy, known as digital piracy, and uses the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) as a framework to attempt to determine factors that influence digital piracy (the illegal copying/downloading of copyrighted software and media files). This study examines factors, which could determine an individual’s intention to pirate digital material (software, media, etc.). Past piracy behavior and moral obligation, in addition to the prevailing theories of behavior (Theory of Planned Behavior), were studied to determine the influence on digital piracy intention. Based on the results of this study, planned behavioral factors in addition to past piracy behavior and moral obligation were found to influence an individual’s intention to pirate digital material. Attitude, past piracy behavior, perceived behavior control, and moral obligation explained 71 percent of the intention to pirate variance. Using these results, a better understanding of why individuals pirate is presented and can be used to help combat digital piracy.


intention toward digital piracy ethical behavior theory of planned behavior moral obligation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ajzen I.: 1985, ‚From Intentions to Behavior: A Theory of Planned Behavior’, in I. J. K. J. B. (eds.), Action-Control: From Cognition to Behavior (Spinger, Heidelberg), pp. 11–39Google Scholar
  2. Ajzen I. (1991) The Theory of Planned Behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 50(1):179–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ajzen, I.: 2002a, ‚Perceived Behavioral Control, Self Efficacy, Locus of Control, and the Theory of Planned Behavior’, Journal of Applied Social Psychology 32(4), 665–683Google Scholar
  4. Ajzen I. (2002b) Residual Effects of Past on Later Behavior: Habituation and reasoned Action Perspectives. Personality and Social Psychology Review 6(2):107–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ajzen I., Madden T. (1986) Perceived Goal-Directed Behavior: Attitudes, Dimensions, and Perceived Behavioral Control. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 22:453–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Allport G. (1935) Attitudes. In: Murchison C. (eds) Handbook of Social Psychology. Worcester MA, Clark University Press, pp 798–844Google Scholar
  7. Anderson R., Johnson D., et al. (1993) Using the New ACM Code of Ethics in Decision Making. Communications of the ACM 36(2):98–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bagozzi R., Baumgartner H., et al. (1992) State versus Action Orientation and the Theory of Reasoned Action: An Application to Coupon Usage. Journal of Consummer Research 18(4):505–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bagozzi R., Phillips L. (1991) Assessing Construct Validity in Organizational Research. Administrative Sciences Quarterly 36:421–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bamberg S., Ajzen I., Schmidt P. (2003) Choice of Travel Mode in the Theory of Planned Behavior: The Roles of Past Behavior, Habit, and Reasoned Action. Basic and Applied Social Psychology 25(3):175–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Banerjee D., Cronan T. P., et al. (1998) Modeling IT Ethics: A Study in Situational Ethics. MIS Quarterly 22(1):31–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Beck L., Ajzen I. (1991) Predicting Dishonest Actions Using the Theory of Planned Behavior. Journal of Research in Personality 25(3):285–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bhattacharjee S., Gopal R., et al. (2003) Digital Music and Online Sharing: Software Piracy 2.0? Communication of the ACM 46(7):107–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bhattacharjee S., Gopal R., et al. (2006a) Consumer Search and Retailer Strategies in the Presence of Online Music Sharing. Journal of Management Information Systems 23(1):129–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bhattacharjee S., Gopal R., et al. (2006b) What Happened to Payola? An Empirical Analysis Online Music Sharing. Decision Support Systems 42(1):104–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bodur H., Brinberg D., et al. (2000) Belief, Affect, and Attitude: Alternative Models of the Determinants of Attitude. Journal of Consumer Psychology 9(1):17–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bono S., Rubin A., Stubblefield A., Green M. (2006) Security Through Legality. Communications of the ACM, 49(6):41–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Bommer, M. and C. Gratto: 1987, `A Behavioral Model of Ethical and Unethical Decision Making', Journal of Business Ethics 6(4), 265–280Google Scholar
  19. Chang M. (1998) Predicting Unethical Behavior: A Comparison of the Theory of Reasoned Action and the Theory of Planned Behavior. Journal of Business Ethics 17:1825–1834CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chellappa R., Shivendu S. (2003) Economic Impacts of Variable Technology Standards for Movie Piracy in a Global Context. Journal of Management Information Systems 20(2):137–149Google Scholar
  21. Cheng H., Sims R., et al. (1997) To Purchase or to Pirate Software: An Empirical Study. Journal of Management Information Systems 4:49–60Google Scholar
  22. Conner M., Armitage C. (1998) Extending the Theory of Planned Behavior: A Review and Avenues for Further Research. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 28(15):1429–1464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Conti G. (2006) Hacking and Innovation. Communications of the ACM 49(6):33–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Cronan T. P., Douglas D. E. (2006) Information Technology Ethical Behavior: Toward a Comprehensive Ethical Behavior Model. Journal of Organizational and End User Computing 18(1):i–xiGoogle Scholar
  25. Cronan T. P., Foltz C. B., Jones T. W. (2006) Piracy, Computer Crime, and IS Misuse at the University. Communications of the ACM 49(6):85–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Cross T. (2006) Academic Freedom and the Hacker Ethic. Communications of the ACM 49(6):37–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Dubinsky A., Loken B. (1989) Analyzing Ethical Decision Making in Marketing. Journal of Business Research 19:83–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Eining M., Christensen A. (1991) A Psycho-Social Model of Software Piracy: The Development and Test of a Model. In: Dejorie R., Fowler G., Paradice D. (eds.) Ethical Issues in Information Systems. Boyd and Fraser Boston, MAGoogle Scholar
  29. Feuilherade, P.: (2004) Online Piracy ‚Devastates’ Music, BBC News. 2004Google Scholar
  30. Fishbein M., Ajzen I. (1975) Attitude, Intention, and Behavior: An Introduction to Theory and Research. Reading, MA, Addison-WesleyGoogle Scholar
  31. Flannery B., May D. (2000) Environmental Ethical Decision Making in the U.S. Metal-Finishing Industry. Academy of Management Journal 43(4):642–662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gefen, D., D. Straub and M. Boudreau: 2000, ‚Structural Equation Modeling and Regression: Guidelines for Research Practice’, Communications of the Association for Information Systems 4(7)Google Scholar
  33. Glass R., Wood W. (1996) Situational Determinants of Software Piracy: An Equity Theory Perspective. Journal of Business Ethics 15:1189–1198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gopal R., Sanders L. (1997) Preventive and Deterrent Controls for Software Piracy. Journal of Management Information Systems (4):29–47Google Scholar
  35. Hagger M., Chatzisarantis N., Biddle S. (2002) A Meta-Analytic Review of the Theories of reasoned Action and Planned Behavior in Physical Activity: Predictive Validity and the Contribution of Additional Variables. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology 24:3–32Google Scholar
  36. Hair J.F. Jr., Anderson R.E., Tatham R.L., Black W.C. (1998) Multivariate Data Analysis with Readings, 5th ed. Macmillan, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  37. Hunt S., Vitell S. (1986) A General Theory of Marketing Ethics. Journal of Micromarketing 6:5–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Im, J. and P. Van Epps: 1991, ‚Software Piracy and Software Security in Business Schools: An Ehical Perspective’, The DATABASE for Advances in Information Systems (Summer) 15–21Google Scholar
  39. Khazanchi D. (1995) Unethical Behavior In Information-Systems - The Gender Factor. Journal of Business Ethics 14(9):741–749CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kreie J., Cronan P. (1999a) Copyright, Piracy, Privacy, and Security Issues: Acceptable or Unacceptable Actions for End Users? Journal of End User Computing 11(2):13–21Google Scholar
  41. Kreie J., Cronan P. (1999b) How Men and Women View Ethics. Communications of the ACM 41(9):70–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kreie J., Cronan P. (2000) Making Ethical Decisions. Communications of the ACM 43(12):66–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kuo F., Hsu M. (2001) Development and Validation of Ethical Computer Self-Efficacy Measure: The Case of Softlifting. Journal of Business Ethics 32:299–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kurland N. (1995) Ethical Intentions and the Theories of Reasoned Action and Planned Behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 25(4):297–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lau E. (2003) An Empirical Study of Software Piracy. Business Ethics 12(3):233–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Leonard L., Cronan T. P. (2001) Illegal, Inappropriate, and Unethical Behavior in an Information Technology Contexts: A Study to explain Influence. Journal of the Association for Information Systems 1(12):1–31Google Scholar
  47. Limayem M., Khalifa M., et al.: 1999, ‚Factors Motivating Software Piracy: A Longitudinal Study’, Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems, pp 124–131Google Scholar
  48. Loch K., Conger S. (1996) Evaluating Ethical Decision Making and Computer Use. Communications of the ACM 39(7):74–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Madden T., Ellen P., et al. (1992) A Comparison of the Theory of Planned Behavior and the Theory of Reasoned Action. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (18):3–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nunnaly J. (1978) Psychometric Theory. NY, Mcgraw HillGoogle Scholar
  51. O’Leary-Kelly S., Vokura R. (1998) The Empirical Assessment of Construct Validity. Journal of Operations Management 16:387–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Olson J., Zanna M. (1993) Attitudes and Attitude Change. Annual Review of Psychology 44:117–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Peace A., Galletta D., et al. (2003) Software Piracy in the Workplace: A Model and Empirical Test. Journal of Management Information Systems 20(1):153–177Google Scholar
  54. Pedhauzr E., Schmelkin L. (1991) Measurement, Design, and Analysis: An Integrated Approach. Hillsdale, NJ., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, PublishersGoogle Scholar
  55. Petty, R. and D. Wegener: 1997, `Attitudes and Attitude Change', Annual Review of Psychology 48, 609–647Google Scholar
  56. Randall D., Gibson A. (1991) Ethical Decision Making in the Medical Profession: An Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior. Journal of Business Ethics 10:111–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Reiss M., Mitra K. (1998) The Effects Of Individual Difference Factors On The Acceptability Of Ethical And Unethical Workplace Behaviors. Journal of Business Ethics 17(14):1581–1593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Report MPAA, 2003: Thoughts on the Digital Future of Movies, the Threat Of Piracy, the Hope of Redemption. Encino, CA, Motion Picture Association of AmericaGoogle Scholar
  59. Rest J. (1986) Moral Development: Advances in Research and Theory. New York, PraegerGoogle Scholar
  60. Schwab D. (1999) Research Methods for Organizational Studies. Mahwah, NJGoogle Scholar
  61. Schwartz S., Tessler R. (1972) A Test of a Model for Reducing Measured Attitude-Behavior Discrepancies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 42(2):225–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Shepherd G., O’Keefe D. (1984) Separability of Attitudinal and Normative Influences on Behavioral Intentions in the Fishbein-Ajzen Model. The Journal of Social Psychology 122:287–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Shimp T.A., Kavas A. (1984) The Theory of Reasoned Action Applied to Coupon Usage. Journal of Consumer Research 11(Dec):795CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Simpson P., Banerjee D., et al. (1994) Softlifting: A Model of Motivating Factors. Journal of Business Ethics 13:431–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sims R., Cheng H., et al. (1996) Toward a Profile of Student Software Piraters. Journal of Business Ethics 15:839–849CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Solomon, S. and J. O’Brien: 1990, ‚The Effect of Demographic Factors on Attitudes Toward Software Piracy’, The Journal Of Computer Information Systems 30(3), 45Google Scholar
  67. Straub, D. and R. Collins: 1990, ‚Key Information Liability Issues Facing Managers: Software Piracy, Proprietary Databases, and Individual Right to Privacy’, MIS Quarterly (June), 143–156Google Scholar
  68. Sundararajan A. (2004) Managing Digital Piracy: Pricing and Protection. Information Systems Research 15(3):287–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tan B. (2002) Understanding Consumer Ethical Decision Making with respect to Purchase of Pirated Software. The Journal of Consumer Marketing 19(2/3):96–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Thong J., Yap C. (1998) Testing an Ethical Decision-Making Theory: The Case of Softlifting. Journal of Management Information Systems 15(1):213–237Google Scholar
  71. Trafimow D. (1996) The Importance of Attitudes in the Prediction of College Students’ Intention to Drink. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 26(24):2167–2188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Triandis, C.: 1980, Values, Attitudes and Interpersonal Behavior. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 1979: Beliefs, Attitudes, and Values, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 159–295Google Scholar
  73. Vallerand, R. J. and L. G. Pelletier: 1992, `Ajzen and Fishbein's Theory of reasoned Action as Applied to Moral Behavior: A Confirmatory Analysis', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 62 (January), 98Google Scholar
  74. Wagner S., Sanders G. (2001) Considerations in Ethical Decision-Making and Software Piracy. Journal of Business Ethics 29(1/2):161–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Walls W., Harvey P. (2006) Digital Pirates in Practice: Analysis of Market Transactions in Hong Kong’s Pirate Software Arcades. International Journal of Management 23(2):207–215Google Scholar
  76. Walstrom K. A., Hardgrave B. C. (2001) Forums for Information Systems Scholars: III. Information & Management 39:117–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Information SystemsUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleU.S.A.
  2. 2.College of Business AdministrationKuwait UniversitySafatKuwait

Personalised recommendations