Exploring The Incongruence In Theoretical Beliefs And Pracatical Motivations For Making Unauthorized Software Copies

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Philip F. Musa
Susan Key


making copies of software, motivation for copying software, unauthorized software copies


Music downloads and making copies of software is a rampant phenomenon world-wide. When it comes to some university and even high school students, the practice goes on as a normal way of life. These software types range from Accounting and Audit applications to music sharing, graphics manipulation, and numerous other applications. The proliferation of technology that permits downloads and production of duplicate copies of music and software enhances the practice. Given the improvements and affordability of computer hardware and software, the issue of unauthorized making of music and software copies is an issue that is expected to gain more attention. The question of whether or not it is right to make unauthorized copies of software has been debated among scholars for some time, but little has been done to understand to motivation of the users who engage in such practice. Software vendors have pursued various measures to combat the practice, but to no avail. While the mass copying by some shops is a major problem to software companies such as Microsoft, the discussion in this paper is limited to copies made and shared by individuals for non-commercial purposes. There are four main issues addressed here: (1) what are the theoretical beliefs shared by information systems researchers, software makers, and practitioners? (2) When asked confidentially, what are the main practical reasons or justifications that users give? (3) Is there some incongruence in the two belief systems? (4) Reconciling the two beliefs would shed some new light on users moral and legal beliefs and attitudes with regards to making unauthorized software copies. We believe that the results from the empirical research we conducted, as well as the outline for future research that we propose could lead to a better understanding of users motives and yield a more effective means of combating the practice of unauthorized software copying. Details of survey data collected in the study will be given in the paper, and presented at the conference. A synthesis of theoretical beliefs and the users reported motivations will also be provided at the conference and proceedings.


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