Understanding the role of ethics in the intention to share files using P2P networks


Abstract
This research examines the role that ethics plays in an individual's intention to engage in peer-to-peer file sharing. Previous studies have focused on P2P file sharing as primarily an act of piracy; and accordingly many, although not all, have found that ethical considerations do play a role in file sharing intentions. While piracy over P2P networks has continued and ethical predispositions clearly remain important issues, in the face of new business models and increased use of P2P file sharing for perfectly legitimate applications, the percentage of pirated files has decreased even as overall P2P network traffic has grown.It is therefore important to understand a user's intentions to engage in P2P file sharing as a whole, without restricting that understanding to the single aspect of piracy. But because piracy is still a factor, it is critical to consider the role of ethics in those intentions. The objectives of this research are to propose and test a model of file sharing intentions based on the theory of planned behavior which considers ethical predisposition. Structural equation modeling is used to analyze our model. The results show that while ethical predisposition does not have a significant effect on intentions, other factors do. From this we draw several important conclusions regarding P2P file sharing. These are findings that have significance for network managers and internet service providers, both of who are greatly concerned about the impact of this mode of file sharing. This work is the first of its kind to provide a macro level understanding of the role ethics plays in file sharing in general, not restricted to illicit activities
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