Online piracy: an emergent segment of the shadow economy. Empirical insight from Poland
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the underlying causes, scale and scope as well as the effects of piracy as a form of the shadow economy throughout Poland, drawing on the findings of secondary studies and author’s questionnaire survey conducted in summer 2013. Design/methodology/approach An online questionnaire survey was accomplished using the computer-assisted Web interview method and real-time sampling technique, in June 2013. The survey involved 1,000 persons aged 15 years and older. Findings Polish consumers use pirated content, products and services primarily for financial reasons: 73 per cent of respondents point out to high prices of original products, while more than half (56 per cent) points at low incomes of Polish consumers. A significant percentage of respondents (over one-third) indicates the easiness of access to pirated goods and services. The most common activity among Polish internet users is to copy pirated music files (almost 40 per cent of internet users admit to that) and films (including watching the series in the network to which approximately 35 per cent of respondents confess to). These two kinds of files are also copied the most often – about 20 per cent of the respondents copy them once a month or more often. One-fourth of the respondents admit to copying pirated computer programs. The findings from the survey reveal that young Polish internet users demonstrate a rather permissive attitude towards online piracy that involves downloading music files or video and sharing them with other network users. Research limitations/implications The questionnaire survey did not cover all aspects of online purchasing behaviour of Polish internet users. The findings of the survey should be approached with some caution, given the intricate and sensitive nature of the research problématique. Practical implications Regulations regarding online purchases of goods and services are not attuned to the digital reality, which is exploited by online intermediaries. The research findings highlighted the motivational and behavioural aspects of Poles’ online consumer behaviour, thus providing useful tips to curb online piracy. Social implications The implementation of relevant regulations to ensure respect and protection for intellectual property rights on the internet in Polish as well as EU legislation has acquired a rare immediacy and may reduce the scope of online piracy and other manifestations of shadow economy in the cyberspace. Originality/value An empirical insight into the online piracy among Polish internet users providing first-hand knowledge regarding their motivation and behavioural patterns.