Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Spotlight on deterrents: Good cop VS. Bad cop

A recent news article highlighted 'the Streisand effect', which explains how censorship can backfire.

Coined in 2005 by Michael Masnick (President and CEO of Floor64 and CEO and founder of Techdirt), Masnick coined the phrase in a blog entry as a response to the singer's attempts to censor images of her house appearing on the Internet. This inadvertently attracted infinitely more attention to the images than if she took no legal action.

The article linked above (and referenced below), explains how The Pirate Bay received a record amount of traffic after 5 UK ISP's were ordered to block access to the copyright-infringing website.


Traditional anti-piracy campaigns focus on the punitive measures which will be set in motion, if caught illegally downloading. d'Astous, Colbert and Montpetit (2005) observed that anti-piracy arguments had no significant impact on the behavioural dynamics underlying on-line music piracy, where a recent addition to the literature is Nandedkar and Midha's (2012) paper, suggesting that individuals holding an optimism bias engage in piracy as they believe to be of lower risk than other populations.

Elsewhere, Djekic and Loebbecke (2007) observed that technical protections fail in protecting application software from being illegally copied with none of the measures studied significantly reducing piracy. Indeed, Marshall (2004) remarks that technical solutions are 'not the answer' (p.8).

The focal point of this blog entry however, is the paper 'Preventing Digital Music Piracy: The Carrot or the Stick?' by Sinha and Mandel (2008). Their findings from three studies demonstrated that negative incentives are only a strong deterrent for certain consumers but can actually increase the propensity to pirate for others. Conversely, positive incentives, such as improved functionality, were observed to significantly reduce the tendency to pirate among all the consumer segments studied; with 56% of Swedish file-sharers citing Spotify as the reason they had curbed their habit (Jones, 2011).

Bad Cop 0.. Good Cop 1?

What do you think?

Twitter feed now live @musicpiracyblog with daily updates.


Cacciottolo, M. (2012). The Streisand Effect: When censorship backfires [online]. Available from: [Accessed June 16, 2012].

d’Astous, A., Colbert, F. and Montpetit, D. (2005). Music Piracy on the Web - How Effective Are Anti-Piracy Arguments? Evidence From the Theory of Planned Behaviour. Journal of Consumer Policy, 28, 289-310.

Jones, S. (2011, January). The Swede taste of success. Music Week. Retrieved from

Masnick, M. (2005). Re: Since When is Is It Illegal To Just Mention A Trademark Online? [Web log message]. Retrieved from:

Marshall, L. (2004). Metallica and Morality: The Rhetorical Battleground of the Napster Wars. Entertainment and Sports Law Journal, 1, 1-3.

Nandedkar, A. and Midha, V. (2012). It won't happen to me: An assessment of optimism bias in music piracy. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(1),41-48.

Sinha, R.K. and Mandel, N. (2008). Preventing Digital Music Piracy: The Carrot or the Stick? Journal of Marketing, 72(1), 1-15.

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