Survey examines piracy psychology


By Siyabonga Africa, ITWeb junior journalist
Johannesburg, 17 Jul 2009

What is the psychological profile of a software pirate? What are the objective factors that drive an individual to engage or not engage in software piracy?

University of Witwatersrand psychology masters student Julie Robinson is conducting a research study on the reasons behind the unauthorised use, duplication, distribution or sale of commercially available software in SA.

"The aim of this study is to gain a more in-depth understanding of the unauthorised copying of computer software behaviour within the South African context," says Robinson. "Specifically, I am looking at objective factors within the environment that may facilitate or impede an individual from engaging in this behaviour."

According to the Business Software Alliance`s fifth annual piracy survey, pirating rates in SA and Zambia were 34% and 82% respectively. Yet, Robinson also points out that recent research conducted in SA and Zambia has indicated that the intentions to make unauthorised copies of software are actually higher here compared to Zambia.

"Therefore, if Zambia`s software piracy rate is higher than SA`s, but SA`s piracy intentions are higher than Zambia`s, what then are the objective factors present in the external environment that make an act easy to do or hard to do, even when there is a strong intention?"

Robinson is conducting a number of online surveys, in conjunction with ITWeb and other stakeholders, to gain a better understanding of the psychological phenomena explaining software piracy. The findings will be used in Robinson`s research paper: "Triandis Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour in understanding software piracy behaviour in the South African context".

To participate in the research, complete this 10-minute online survey. All valid respondents stand a chance to win one of two 8GB Apple iPod Nanos and will be able to view the results.