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Predicting consumer digital piracy behavior: The role of rationalization and perceived consequences

Irena Vida (Marketing Department, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Mateja Kos Koklič (Marketing Department, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Monika Kukar‐Kinney (Marketing Department, University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia, USA and University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Elfriede Penz (International Marketing Management, Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, Vienna, Austria)

Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing

ISSN: 2040-7122

Article publication date: 12 October 2012




The purpose of this paper is to investigate consumer perceptions of personal risk and benefits of digital piracy behavior as determinants of one's justification for such behavior and the consequent future piracy intention. Temporal effects of rationalization in shaping future piracy intent are also addressed.


A conceptual model was developed using counterfeiting and piracy literature. Data were gathered via mail and online survey of adults in five European Union countries. The model was tested on pooled sample using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling.


Rationalization mediates the relationship between perceived benefits and piracy intention, but not between perceived risk and intention. Both perceived risk and benefits affect piracy intent, with risk reducing it and benefits increasing it. Rationalization of past behavior increases future digital piracy intent.

Research limitations/implications

Risk measure was limited to technical problems, thus future studies should examine a wider scope of risk dimensions. The cross‐sectional design of the study also creates some limitations. A longitudinal methodology could provide a better insight into sequencing of rationalization.

Social implications

Marketing communications should increase public awareness of risks and reduce perceived piracy benefits to reduce future piracy intent. Public persuasion activities should counter the arguments consumers use to rationalize their piracy behavior.


This research fills in a void in knowledge on how expected consequences drive rationalization techniques, particularly with respect to future piracy intent. A realistic data set drawn from adult population in five countries is used, enhancing external validity.



Vida, I., Kos Koklič, M., Kukar‐Kinney, M. and Penz, E. (2012), "Predicting consumer digital piracy behavior: The role of rationalization and perceived consequences", Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 298-313.



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