Working paper # 4/2022

Incentivising ‘pirates’ to pay – An experiment with comic book readers


W. Hardy, S. Rożynek, INCENTIVISING ‘PIRATES’ TO PAY – AN EXPERIMENT WITH COMIC BOOK READERS, DELab Working Paper 4/2022, Warsaw 2022.


Inter­net pira­cy has been repe­ate­dly shown to displa­ce the autho­ri­sed con­sump­tion of digi­tal con­tent. Howe­ver, fewer stu­dies tried to iden­ti­fy a via­ble solu­tion and none – to the authors’ best know­led­ge – tried to convert the ‘pira­tes’ into pay­ing con­su­mers. We con­duc­ted a three-wave panel survey among comic book readers, asking abo­ut the­ir con­sump­tion from vario­us sour­ces. After each wave, a ran­dom sub­sam­ple was pro­vi­ded with pri­zes in the form of digi­tal comic books from a legal pro­vi­der. We ana­ly­se the effects of pri­zes on fur­ther con­sump­tion beha­vio­ur. The first pri­zing sche­me incen­ti­vi­sed set­ting up an acco­unt, instal­ling a reader app and fami­lia­ri­sing one­self with the cata­lo­gue of the domi­nant digi­tal sel­ler of comics. The second sche­me aimed at hooking con­su­mers on par­ti­cu­lar comic book series. Howe­ver, we find no con­si­stent evi­den­ce of a chan­ge in the con­sump­tion pat­terns or the wil­lin­gness to pay for digi­tal for­mats. We sug­gest that for the case of comic books the pri­ces of lower-valu­ed digi­tal copies might deter pur­cha­se and discuss the use of simi­lar rese­arch design for other cre­ati­ve content.

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