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An academic study of France’s so-called Hadopi anti-piracy legislation has concluded that the graduated response approach, whereby individuals receive a warning the first two times they are detected illegally sharing content, with legal action is only taken when a third violation is detected has no substantial deterrent effect.
Although the researchers’ theoretical model of illegal behaviour under a graduated response law predicts that the perceived probability of detection has no impact on the decision to initially engage in digital piracy, it nevertheless finds that it may reduce the intensity of illegal file sharing by those who do pirate. It also finds evidence that individuals who are better informed about the law and piracy alternatives substitute away from monitored P2P networks and illegally access content through unmonitored channels.
The study – Graduated Response Policy and the Behavior of Digital Pirates: Evidence from the French Three-strike (Hadopi) Law – by Michael Arnold (University of Delaware), Eric Darmon (University of Rennes), Sylvain Dejean (University of La Rochelle), and Thierry Penard (University of Rennes) – finds that while several factors affect the perceived probability of detection under the law, the results show that the propensity to engage in illegal file-sharing is independent of these beliefs. Moreover, better information about digital piracy alternatives, as measured by the proportion of digital pirates in one’s social network increases one’s propensity to violate copyright law.
According to the study, both the theoretical and empirical results indicate that graduated response policies are not effective in deterring piracy activity, at least until a significant portion of the population has received initial warnings and faces punishment upon receiving a subsequent warning. Results suggest that gains in legal purchases are likely the result of positive educational externalities generated by publicity surrounding the law and that they are not attributable to a deterrent effect that reduced digital piracy.