Title: A study of neutralisation theory's application to global consumer ethics: P2P file-trading of musical intellectual property on the internet

Authors: Deborah Y. Cohn, Valerie L. Vaccaro

Addresses: Sy Syms School of Business, Yeshiva University, 500 West 185th Street, New York, NY 10033, USA. ' College of Business and Public Administration, Kean University, 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, NJ 07083, USA

Abstract: This study applied neutralisation techniques from neutralisation theory (Sykes and Matza, 1957) to consumer perceptions to justify unethical distribution and acquisition of unauthorised free digital music on the internet. A two-stage multimethod and qualitative study was performed. One qualitative data set was developed with written protocols in 2000 at the start of the Napster phenomenon with a sample of consumers from nine nations. The second research phase was done in 2004 with a netnographic approach to studying weblogs. Results supported the Marks and Mayo (1991) extension of Hunt and Vitell|s (1986) General Theory of Marketing Ethics model and Fukukawa|s (2002) Framework for Ethically Questionable Behaviour in Consumption. The first stage of cross-cultural analysis revealed nations| differences in neutralisation techniques used by subjects to justify unethical file-trading behaviour. Results from both research phases indicated global similarities among consumer values.

Keywords: consumer ethics; digital music; peer-to-peer; P2P; file sharing; intellectual property; MP3; Napster; neutralisation theory; weblogs; ethical issues; internet; marketing ethics; consumer values.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2006.008975

International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, 2006 Vol.3 No.1, pp.68 - 88

Available online: 09 Feb 2006 *

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