Skip to main content

God deters digital piracy

Media release

God has the strongest influence in stopping highly, moderately and less religious Christians from buying pirated movies and digital software, according to a collaborative study led by Curtin University.

Previous research found 57 per cent of global computer users admitted to being involved in software piracy, and up to 600,000 copies of films were traded daily, costing the industry more than $18.2 billion each year.

The latest research was conducted in Indonesia, which remains saturated with retail kiosks offering factory and burned-to-order digital media, placing it on the priority watch list due to its extremely high rate of software piracy (86 per cent) and movie piracy (92 per cent).

Previous studies have found that people who were actively involved in digital piracy did not view piracy as being illegal, unethical or morally wrong.

Professor Ian Phau, Curtin’s School of Marketing, led the study which examined the role of religious leaders and an individual’s religiousness in affecting their attitude towards digital piracy and behaviour intention.

“The research team considered four main influencers – pastor, friends, religion and God — and identified God as the strongest influence in deterring the purchase of pirated media,” Professor Phau said.

“All 1,400 respondents, who were members of a Christian mega-church, displayed a strong willingness to stop engaging in digital piracy if God told them to do so.”

While studies in 2004 and 2008 found no difference between Christians and non-Christians in their attitude towards digital piracy, a more recent study found church attendance and personal devotion time were positively related to attitudes against digital piracy.

“Researchers delved further and examined whether there were significant differences between highly religious and less religious people and how this affected their willingness to stop buying illegal copies of music, movies, and software if their influential referents asked them to do so,” Professor Phau said.

“The findings of the research provides empirical evidence that highly-religious respondents have a stronger attitude against digital piracy and are more willing to stop purchasing pirated media, compared to the less religious and moderately religious respondents.”

Professor Phau said a developing country like Indonesia could integrate anti-piracy teaching in elementary school curricula with support from industry organisations.

“The results of the study have important implications for policy makers and marketers of digital services in discouraging people from engaging in digital piracy behaviour,” Professor Phau said.

“Moral values about digital piracy need to be instilled in consumers from a very young age. Religious and educational institutions could work together to communicate a strong message against digital piracy.”

The paper, titled Religiosity and Digital Piracy: An Empirical Examination was published in Services Marketing Quarterly.