Determinants of unlawful file sharing: A scoping review

Steven Watson, Daniel Zizzo (Lead Author), Piers Fleming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


We employ a scoping review methodology to consider and assess the existing evidence on the determinants of unlawful file sharing (UFS) transparently and systematically. Based on the evidence, we build a simple conceptual framework to model the psychological decision to engage in UFS, purchase legally or do nothing. We identify social, moral, experiential, technical, legal and financial utility sources of the decision to purchase or to file share. They interact in complex ways. We consider the strength of evidence within these areas and note patterns of results. There is good evidence for influences on UFS within each of the identified determinants, particularly for self-reported measures, with more behavioral research needed. There are also indications that the reasons for UFS differ across media; more studies exploring media other than music are required.
Original languageEnglish
Article number e0127921
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • scoping review
  • digital media
  • file sharing
  • illegal downloads
  • welfare

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