Increasingly researchers are also examining the sociological links, causes and effects of copyright infringement. A new study conducted by Tennessee Tech University’s Jordana Navarro is a good example.
With a large survey Navarro and her colleagues investigated the link between piracy, internet addiction and deviant tendencies. The results were published in an article titled “Addicted to pillaging in cyberspace: Investigating the role of internet addiction in digital piracy,” which appears in the latest issue of the Computers and Human Behavior journal.
The researchers conducted a large-scale survey among 1,617 students from 9th through 12th grade. The participants were asked a wide range of questions, covering their piracy habits, as well as scales to measure Internet addiction and association with deviant friends.
The findings on the piracy side are comparable to many previous studies and show that movie piracy is most prevalent. Nearly 30% of the students admitted to pirating movies, and this percentage went down to 15% and 13% for music and software piracy respectively.
One of the more interesting findings is the link between piracy and Internet addiction. Here, the researchers found that students who have more internet addiction related issues are more likely to pirate software.
“Based on the results of the study, we can determine that high school students who have Internet-related problems due to addiction are more likely to commit a specific form of piracy involving the illegal downloading of software,” the researchers write.
The same group of software pirates were also more likely to hang out with deviant friends. This measure includes friends who pirate, those who threaten others with violence online, those who send nude pictures, and those who have used another person’s credit card or ID without permission.
“Not surprisingly, youth who committed this form of piracy were also more likely to have deviant peers. In other words, their behaviors were influenced by friends who committed similar or other deviant acts,” the researchers conclude.
Interestingly, the link between Internet addiction and copyright infringement was only found for software piracy. High school students who pirated movies and music were not more likely to have these type of problems. They were, however, more likely to associate with deviant or criminal friends.
“The remaining two forms of piracy for juveniles are not predicted by Internet addiction based on our findings. However, the results did support past findings that deviant peer association and piracy behaviors are significant related,” the researchers write.
According to the researchers the results are a good first step in identifying how various problems and deviant behaviors are linked, which could be helpful to shape future educational efforts.
Unfortunately, the paper doesn’t offer any explanations for the differences in the link between Internet addiction and various types of piracy. One likely explanation is that those who show more signs of Internet addiction simply spend more time on the computer, and are therefore more interested in software piracy and software in general.
For now, it appears that some more follow-up research is needed before it’s warranted to send the first batch of kids to piracy rehab.