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Davis, California

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Morality, fear of lawsuits motivate undergrads to buy music

People, especially students, find ways to download music illegally, but some are dissuaded from this practice and prefer the legal route – purchasing their music.

A recent study found that college students are motivated to buy music either because of fear of lawsuit or on moral grounds, according to the Social Science Research Network.

“The Determinants of Music Piracy in a Sample of College Students” tracked undergraduate college students from a southern private university.

According to the report, researchers estimated respondents’ willingness to pay for digital music through a pricing experiment.

They investigated the determinants of music piracy for whether a respondent’s last downloaded song was obtained illegally based on willingness to pay, the price of legal music and the various transaction costs associated with the consumption of illegal music.

A respondent’s willingness to pay, his or her subjective assessment of the probability of facing a lawsuit and the degree of morality all have a negative impact on the likelihood that his or her last song was obtained illegally.

Erin Peltzman, Student Judicial Affairs officer, said UC Davis tries to prevent students from illegally downloading music with educational programs during Welcome Week and throughout academic year. The programs educate first-year students on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the consequences for violation.

“It seems that more students know that they could get in trouble or get sued because it’s out there now and this generation is more aware,” Peltzman said in an e-mail interview. “However, I don’t get the sense that more students are paying versus using BiTorrent and other peer to peer avenues.”

Sophomore Michelle Osuga’s downloading habits have been influenced by internet restrictions in the dorms.

“I know a lot of people who illegally download music,” Osuga said. “I got in the habit of buying music on iTunes because of the restrictions.”

Recent UCD graduate Jenny Lung, who now works with the California Highway Patrol and hopes to go to law school, sees the decision to buy music as a matter of respect.

“Artists deserve what they worked for,” Lung said. “It’s not honoring the artist’s talent if you rip off something that musician created.”

Though the survey could hold true for a lot of college students, Marc F. Bellemare, a professor at Duke University who conducted the survey, said the results are not perfect.

“It is impossible to know whether and how the results of our study apply to other colleges across the country without conducting similar studies at those other colleges,” Bellemare said in an e-mail interview.

Bellemare plans on pursuing the same line of research and already identified things he would like to improve upon in the methodology. He plans on writing a grant proposal that would encompass other universities in the scope of the study.

Andrew Holmberg, an analyst for the Department of Justice who assisted with the survey, has similar goals.

“The scale of the study did focus only on one school,” Holmberg said in an e-mail interview. “Consequently, the data that we collected did not sample from college students on a national scale. Thus, the results that we conclude from that data cannot be accurately extrapolated to incorporate this significantly larger population.”

Holmberg also believes that further research needs to be done to reach conclusive results.

“We did learn a lot about how the study could be improved, and we are very interested in pursuing this topic moving forward,” Holmberg said. “How do students behave at other schools? As with all research, the things one learns often brings up more questions and idiosyncrasies that we would like to explore.”

According to the Recording Industry Association of America website, an analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that global music piracy causes $12.5 billion in economic losses each year, 71,060 U.S. lost jobs and a loss of $2.7 billion in workers’ earnings. Furthermore, piracy equals a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax and $131 million in lost corporate income and production taxes.

ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached city@theaggie.org.


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