An application of deterrence theory to software piracy

Although the research on software piracy is growing, criminologists have not examined the role of deterrence in software piracy. Using data collected from 382 undergraduate students attending a southeastern university, this study examined the role of deterrence in reducing instances of software piracy using a factorial design. The findings from the analysis showed that certainty and not severity was important in reducing software piracy. The study also found that contemporary parts of deterrence theory (i.e., shame and family discovery) were important in deterring software piracy. Policy implications of these findings are discussed.