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doi: 10.3934/jimo.2021127
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The impacts of digital content piracy and copyright protection policies when consumers are loss averse

1. 

School of Economics and Management, Harbin Institute of Technology, Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518055, China

2. 

School of Business, Jiangsu Normal University, Xuzhou 221116, China

* Corresponding authors: renjifan@hit.edu.cn; jqzhang@jsnu.edu.cn

Received  October 2020 Revised  June 2021 Early access August 2021

Recent technological advances in digitization and online communications have enabled unauthorized reproduction and illegal file-sharing. However, controversies still exist over the impacts of digital content piracy and copyright protection policies. Using a game-theoretic framework, we examine the impacts of digital content piracy and copyright protection policies on product quality, firm profitability, consumer surplus, and social welfare when consumers exhibit loss aversion in the quality dimension. Specifically, consumers are initially uncertain about the product quality and will form an expectation, but once they buy the licensed product or use piracy, they know the actual product quality and compare it with their expectation. When consumers are loss averse, consumer propensity to an option is more negatively affected by product quality above the expectation than positively affected by product quality below the expectation. Our analysis shows that although piracy exerts a negative cannibalization effect in the absence of loss aversion, it can exert an additional positive information effect when the degree of loss aversion on the licensed product is higher than the degree of loss aversion on piracy. We find that when the information effect dominates the cannibalization effect, piracy can lead to a win-win situation for firm profitability and consumer surplus. Moreover, under certain circumstances, anti-protection policies can simultaneously raise product quality, firm profitability and consumer surplus. The rationale behind the positive impacts of piracy and anti-protection policies is rooted in the influences of loss aversion behavior on consumer purchase decisions. The results show that it is essential to quantify the degree of consumer loss aversion for firms in formulating pricing and quality strategies and for policymakers to develop copyright protection policies.

Citation: Yan-Xin Chai, Steven Ji-Fan Ren, Jian-Qiang Zhang. The impacts of digital content piracy and copyright protection policies when consumers are loss averse. Journal of Industrial and Management Optimization, doi: 10.3934/jimo.2021127
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S. H. Bae and J. P. Choi, A model of piracy, Information Economics and Policy, 18 (2006), 303-320.  doi: 10.1016/j.infoecopol.2006.02.002.

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D. R. Bell and R. E. Bucklin, The role of internal reference points in the category purchase decision, Journal of Consumer Research, 26 (1999), 128-143.  doi: 10.1086/209555.

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A. J. Bolton L Warlop L, Consumer perceptions of price (un)fairness, Journal of Consumer Research, 29 (2003), 474-491. 

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R. K. Chellappa and S. Shivendu, Managing piracy: Pricing and sampling strategies for digital experience goods in vertically segmented markets, Information Systems Research, 16 (2005), 400-417.  doi: 10.1287/isre.1050.0069.

[6]

H. K. Cheng and Q. C. Tang, Free trial or no free trial: Optimal software product design with network effects, European Journal of Operational Research, 205 (2010), 437-447.  doi: 10.1016/j.ejor.2010.01.014.

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K. R. Conner and R. P. Rumelt, Software piracy: An analysis of protection strategies, Management Science, 37 (1991), 125-139. 

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D. DeyA. Kim and A. Lahiri, Online piracy and the "longer arm" of enforcement, Management Science, 65 (2019), 1173-1190.  doi: 10.1287/mnsc.2017.2984.

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M. GivonV. Mahajan and E. Muller, Software piracy: Estimation of lost sales and the impact on software diffusion, Journal of Marketing, 59 (1995), 29-37. 

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[13]

L. Guo and X. Meng, Digital content provision and optimal copyright protection, Management Science, 61 (2015), 1183-1196.  doi: 10.1287/mnsc.2014.1972.

[14]

B. G. S. HardieE. J. Johnson and P. S. Fader, Modeling loss aversion and reference dependence effects on brand choice, Marketing Science, 12 (1993), 378-394.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.12.4.378.

[15]

E. Haruvy, V. Mahajan and A. Prasad, The effect of piracy on the market penetration of subscription software, The Journal of Business, 77 (2004), S81–S107. doi: 10.1086/381520.

[16]

P. Heidhues and B. Köszegi, Competition and price variation when consumers are loss averse, American Economic Review, 98 (2008), 1245-1268.  doi: 10.1257/aer.98.4.1245.

[17]

T. H. HoN. Lim and C. Camerer, Modeling the psychology of consumer and firm behavior with behavioral economics, J. Market. Res., 43 (2006), 307-331.  doi: 10.1509/jmkr.43.3.307.

[18]

T.-H. HoN. Lim and T. H. Cui, Reference dependence in multilocation newsvendor models: A structural analysis, Management Science, 56 (2010), 1891-1910.  doi: 10.1287/mnsc.1100.1225.

[19]

T.-H. Ho and J. Zhang, Designing pricing contracts for boundedly rational customers: Does the framing of the fixed fee matter?, Management Science, 54 (2008), 686-700.  doi: 10.1287/mnsc.1070.0788.

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S. Jain, Digital piracy: A competitive analysis, Marketing Science, 27 (2008), 610-626.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.1070.0313.

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R. Jones and H. Mendelson, Information goods vs. industrial goods: Cost structure and competition, Management Science, 57 (2011), 164-176.  doi: 10.1287/mnsc.1100.1262.

[23]

D. Kahneman and A. Tversky, Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk, Econometrica, 47 (1979), 263-292.  doi: 10.2307/1914185.

[24]

M. U. Kalwani and C. K. Yim, Consumer price and promotion expectations: An experimental study, Journal of Marketing Research, 29 (1992), 90-100.  doi: 10.1177/002224379202900108.

[25]

G. Kalyanaram and R. S. Winer, Empirical generalizations from reference price research, Marketing Sci., 14 (1995), G161–G169. doi: 10.1287/mksc.14.3.G161.

[26]

H. Karle and M. Peitz, Competition under consumer loss aversion, The RAND Journal of Economics, 45 (2014), 1-31.  doi: 10.1111/1756-2171.12040.

[27]

A. KimA. Lahiri and D. Dey, The 'invisible hand' of piracy: An economic analysis of the information-goods supply chain, MIS Quarterly, 42 (2018), 1117-1141.  doi: 10.2139/ssrn.2426577.

[28]

E. Koo, Try before you buy: Why you should be offering free trials, 2015, https://www.lessannoyingcrm.com/resources/why_free_trials.

[29]

L. KrishnamurthiT. Mazumdar and S. P. Raj, Asymmetric response to price in consumer brand choice and purchase quantity decisions, Journal of Consumer Research, 19 (1992), 387-400.  doi: 10.1086/209309.

[30]

D. Kuksov and K. Wang, The bright side of loss aversion in dynamic and competitive markets, Marketing Science, 33 (2014), 693-711.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.2014.0847.

[31]

A. Lahiri and D. Dey, Effects of piracy on quality of information goods, Management Science, 59 (2013), 245-264.  doi: 10.1287/mnsc.1120.1578.

[32]

F. Li and Z. Yi, Counterfeiting and piracy in supply chain management: Theoretical studies, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 32 (2017), 98-108.  doi: 10.1108/JBIM-09-2015-0171.

[33]

J. G. Lynch and D. Ariely, Wine online: Search costs affect competition on price, quality, and distribution, Marketing Science, 19 (2000), 83-103.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.19.1.83.15183.

[34]

F. Martínez-Sánchez, Preventing commercial piracy when consumers are loss averse, Information Economics and Policy, 53 (2020), 100896. doi: 10.1016/j.infoecopol.2020.100896.

[35]

T. MazumdarS. P. Raj and I. Sinha, Reference price research: Review and propositions, Journal of Marketing, 69 (2005), 84-102.  doi: 10.1509/jmkg.2005.69.4.84.

[36]

A. MehraS. Sajeesh and S. Voleti, Impact of reference prices on product positioning and profits, Production and Operations Management, 29 (2020), 882-892.  doi: 10.1111/poms.13144.

[37]

K. S. Moorthy, Product and price competition in a duopoly, Marketing Science, 7 (1988), 141-168.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.7.2.141.

[38]

C. Narasimhan and z. Turut, Differentiate or imitate? the role of context-dependent preferences, Marketing Science, 32 (2013), 393-410.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.2013.0776.

[39]

A. Y. Orhun, Optimal product line design when consumers exhibit choice set-dependent preferences, Marketing Science, 28 (2009), 868-886.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.1080.0449.

[40]

S. Oz and T. Jacques-Françlois, A strategic approach to software protection, Journal of Economics Management Strategy, 8 (1999), 163-190. 

[41]

A. Prasad and V. Mahajan, How many pirates should a software firm tolerate? An analysis of piracy protection on the diffusion of software, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 20 (2003), 337-353. 

[42]

D. S. Putler, Incorporating reference price effects into a theory of consumer choice, Marketing Science, 11 (1992), 287-309.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.11.3.287.

[43]

K. N. Rajendran and G. J. Tellis, Contextual and temporal components of reference price, Journal of Marketing, 58 (1994), 22-34.  doi: 10.1177/002224299405800102.

[44]

L. N. Takeyama, The welfare implications of unauthorized reproduction of intellectual property in the presence of demand network externalities, Journal of Industrial Economics, 42 (1994), 155-166.  doi: 10.2307/2950487.

[45]

T. I. Tunca and Q. Wu, Fighting fire with fire: Commercial piracy and the role of file sharing on copyright protection policy for digital goods, Information Systems Research, 24 (2013), 436-453.  doi: 10.1287/isre.1120.0430.

[46]

D. A. VernikD. Purohit and P. S. Desai, Music downloads and the flip side of digital rights management, Marketing Science, 30 (2011), 1011-1027.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.1110.0668.

[47]

J. W. WebbL. TihanyiR. D. Ireland and D. G. Sirmon, You say illegal, i say legitimate: entrepreneurship in the informal economy, Social Science Electronic Publishing, 34 (2009), 492-510.  doi: 10.5465/amr.2009.40632826.

[48]

R. S. Winer, Reference price model of brand choice for frequently purchased products, Journal of Consumer Research, 13 (1986), 250-256.  doi: 10.1086/209064.

[49]

D. WuG. Nan and M. Li, Optimal piracy control: Should a firm implement digital rights management?, Information Systems Frontiers, 22 (2020), 947-960.  doi: 10.1007/s10796-019-09907-z.

[50]

J. Zhang and K. J. Li, Quality disclosure under consumer loss aversion, Management Science, 2020. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.3544738.

[51]

J. Zhou, Reference dependence and market competition, Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, 20 (2011), 1073-1097.  doi: 10.1111/j.1530-9134.2011.00309.x.

show all references

References:
[1]

W. Amaldoss and C. He, Reference-dependent utility, product variety, and price competition, Management Science, 64 (2017), 4302-4316.  doi: 10.1287/mnsc.2017.2834.

[2]

S. H. Bae and J. P. Choi, A model of piracy, Information Economics and Policy, 18 (2006), 303-320.  doi: 10.1016/j.infoecopol.2006.02.002.

[3]

D. R. Bell and R. E. Bucklin, The role of internal reference points in the category purchase decision, Journal of Consumer Research, 26 (1999), 128-143.  doi: 10.1086/209555.

[4]

A. J. Bolton L Warlop L, Consumer perceptions of price (un)fairness, Journal of Consumer Research, 29 (2003), 474-491. 

[5]

R. K. Chellappa and S. Shivendu, Managing piracy: Pricing and sampling strategies for digital experience goods in vertically segmented markets, Information Systems Research, 16 (2005), 400-417.  doi: 10.1287/isre.1050.0069.

[6]

H. K. Cheng and Q. C. Tang, Free trial or no free trial: Optimal software product design with network effects, European Journal of Operational Research, 205 (2010), 437-447.  doi: 10.1016/j.ejor.2010.01.014.

[7]

K. R. Conner and R. P. Rumelt, Software piracy: An analysis of protection strategies, Management Science, 37 (1991), 125-139. 

[8]

D. DeyA. Kim and A. Lahiri, Online piracy and the "longer arm" of enforcement, Management Science, 65 (2019), 1173-1190.  doi: 10.1287/mnsc.2017.2984.

[9]

E. L. Feige, Defining and estimating underground and informal economies: The new institutional economics approach, World Development, 18 (1990), 989-1002.  doi: 10.1016/0305-750X(90)90081-8.

[10]

F. M. FeinbergA. Krishna and Z. J. Zhang, Do we care what others get? a behaviorist approach to targeted promotions, Journal of Marketing Research, 39 (2002), 277-291.  doi: 10.1509/jmkr.39.3.277.19108.

[11]

M. GivonV. Mahajan and E. Muller, Software piracy: Estimation of lost sales and the impact on software diffusion, Journal of Marketing, 59 (1995), 29-37. 

[12]

D. GrewalK. B. Monroe and R. Krishnan, The effects of price-comparison advertising on buyers? perceptions of acquisition value, transaction value, and behavioral intentions, Journal of Marketing, 62 (1998), 46-59.  doi: 10.1177/002224299806200204.

[13]

L. Guo and X. Meng, Digital content provision and optimal copyright protection, Management Science, 61 (2015), 1183-1196.  doi: 10.1287/mnsc.2014.1972.

[14]

B. G. S. HardieE. J. Johnson and P. S. Fader, Modeling loss aversion and reference dependence effects on brand choice, Marketing Science, 12 (1993), 378-394.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.12.4.378.

[15]

E. Haruvy, V. Mahajan and A. Prasad, The effect of piracy on the market penetration of subscription software, The Journal of Business, 77 (2004), S81–S107. doi: 10.1086/381520.

[16]

P. Heidhues and B. Köszegi, Competition and price variation when consumers are loss averse, American Economic Review, 98 (2008), 1245-1268.  doi: 10.1257/aer.98.4.1245.

[17]

T. H. HoN. Lim and C. Camerer, Modeling the psychology of consumer and firm behavior with behavioral economics, J. Market. Res., 43 (2006), 307-331.  doi: 10.1509/jmkr.43.3.307.

[18]

T.-H. HoN. Lim and T. H. Cui, Reference dependence in multilocation newsvendor models: A structural analysis, Management Science, 56 (2010), 1891-1910.  doi: 10.1287/mnsc.1100.1225.

[19]

T.-H. Ho and J. Zhang, Designing pricing contracts for boundedly rational customers: Does the framing of the fixed fee matter?, Management Science, 54 (2008), 686-700.  doi: 10.1287/mnsc.1070.0788.

[20]

S. Jain, Digital piracy: A competitive analysis, Marketing Science, 27 (2008), 610-626.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.1070.0313.

[21]

R. M. JenkinsA. PortesM. Castells and L. A. Benton, The informal economy: Studies in advanced and less developed countries, Contemporary Sociology, 20 (1991), 718-719.  doi: 10.2307/2072210.

[22]

R. Jones and H. Mendelson, Information goods vs. industrial goods: Cost structure and competition, Management Science, 57 (2011), 164-176.  doi: 10.1287/mnsc.1100.1262.

[23]

D. Kahneman and A. Tversky, Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk, Econometrica, 47 (1979), 263-292.  doi: 10.2307/1914185.

[24]

M. U. Kalwani and C. K. Yim, Consumer price and promotion expectations: An experimental study, Journal of Marketing Research, 29 (1992), 90-100.  doi: 10.1177/002224379202900108.

[25]

G. Kalyanaram and R. S. Winer, Empirical generalizations from reference price research, Marketing Sci., 14 (1995), G161–G169. doi: 10.1287/mksc.14.3.G161.

[26]

H. Karle and M. Peitz, Competition under consumer loss aversion, The RAND Journal of Economics, 45 (2014), 1-31.  doi: 10.1111/1756-2171.12040.

[27]

A. KimA. Lahiri and D. Dey, The 'invisible hand' of piracy: An economic analysis of the information-goods supply chain, MIS Quarterly, 42 (2018), 1117-1141.  doi: 10.2139/ssrn.2426577.

[28]

E. Koo, Try before you buy: Why you should be offering free trials, 2015, https://www.lessannoyingcrm.com/resources/why_free_trials.

[29]

L. KrishnamurthiT. Mazumdar and S. P. Raj, Asymmetric response to price in consumer brand choice and purchase quantity decisions, Journal of Consumer Research, 19 (1992), 387-400.  doi: 10.1086/209309.

[30]

D. Kuksov and K. Wang, The bright side of loss aversion in dynamic and competitive markets, Marketing Science, 33 (2014), 693-711.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.2014.0847.

[31]

A. Lahiri and D. Dey, Effects of piracy on quality of information goods, Management Science, 59 (2013), 245-264.  doi: 10.1287/mnsc.1120.1578.

[32]

F. Li and Z. Yi, Counterfeiting and piracy in supply chain management: Theoretical studies, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 32 (2017), 98-108.  doi: 10.1108/JBIM-09-2015-0171.

[33]

J. G. Lynch and D. Ariely, Wine online: Search costs affect competition on price, quality, and distribution, Marketing Science, 19 (2000), 83-103.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.19.1.83.15183.

[34]

F. Martínez-Sánchez, Preventing commercial piracy when consumers are loss averse, Information Economics and Policy, 53 (2020), 100896. doi: 10.1016/j.infoecopol.2020.100896.

[35]

T. MazumdarS. P. Raj and I. Sinha, Reference price research: Review and propositions, Journal of Marketing, 69 (2005), 84-102.  doi: 10.1509/jmkg.2005.69.4.84.

[36]

A. MehraS. Sajeesh and S. Voleti, Impact of reference prices on product positioning and profits, Production and Operations Management, 29 (2020), 882-892.  doi: 10.1111/poms.13144.

[37]

K. S. Moorthy, Product and price competition in a duopoly, Marketing Science, 7 (1988), 141-168.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.7.2.141.

[38]

C. Narasimhan and z. Turut, Differentiate or imitate? the role of context-dependent preferences, Marketing Science, 32 (2013), 393-410.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.2013.0776.

[39]

A. Y. Orhun, Optimal product line design when consumers exhibit choice set-dependent preferences, Marketing Science, 28 (2009), 868-886.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.1080.0449.

[40]

S. Oz and T. Jacques-Françlois, A strategic approach to software protection, Journal of Economics Management Strategy, 8 (1999), 163-190. 

[41]

A. Prasad and V. Mahajan, How many pirates should a software firm tolerate? An analysis of piracy protection on the diffusion of software, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 20 (2003), 337-353. 

[42]

D. S. Putler, Incorporating reference price effects into a theory of consumer choice, Marketing Science, 11 (1992), 287-309.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.11.3.287.

[43]

K. N. Rajendran and G. J. Tellis, Contextual and temporal components of reference price, Journal of Marketing, 58 (1994), 22-34.  doi: 10.1177/002224299405800102.

[44]

L. N. Takeyama, The welfare implications of unauthorized reproduction of intellectual property in the presence of demand network externalities, Journal of Industrial Economics, 42 (1994), 155-166.  doi: 10.2307/2950487.

[45]

T. I. Tunca and Q. Wu, Fighting fire with fire: Commercial piracy and the role of file sharing on copyright protection policy for digital goods, Information Systems Research, 24 (2013), 436-453.  doi: 10.1287/isre.1120.0430.

[46]

D. A. VernikD. Purohit and P. S. Desai, Music downloads and the flip side of digital rights management, Marketing Science, 30 (2011), 1011-1027.  doi: 10.1287/mksc.1110.0668.

[47]

J. W. WebbL. TihanyiR. D. Ireland and D. G. Sirmon, You say illegal, i say legitimate: entrepreneurship in the informal economy, Social Science Electronic Publishing, 34 (2009), 492-510.  doi: 10.5465/amr.2009.40632826.

[48]

R. S. Winer, Reference price model of brand choice for frequently purchased products, Journal of Consumer Research, 13 (1986), 250-256.  doi: 10.1086/209064.

[49]

D. WuG. Nan and M. Li, Optimal piracy control: Should a firm implement digital rights management?, Information Systems Frontiers, 22 (2020), 947-960.  doi: 10.1007/s10796-019-09907-z.

[50]

J. Zhang and K. J. Li, Quality disclosure under consumer loss aversion, Management Science, 2020. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.3544738.

[51]

J. Zhou, Reference dependence and market competition, Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, 20 (2011), 1073-1097.  doi: 10.1111/j.1530-9134.2011.00309.x.

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