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In our technology-driven world, consumers have access to a wealth of product options, but this access also allows consumers the opportunity to obtain purchasable content through illegal means. Past studies have addressed the perceptions of the criminality of online versus face-to-face theft, but limitations have been consistent across studies with the frequent use of collegiate sample pools. It was important for this experiment to gather data from a broader world population to make results more generalizable. Therefore, we examined a total of 589 participants from a global participant pool to evaluate their perceptions of the criminality of online piracy or physical theft of music or software. This experiment hypothesized that (1) the perception of the criminality of illegal downloading of media would be assessed higher ratings by South Asian participants than North American participants, and (2) criminality ratings would be assessed higher ratings by females than males. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four vignettes. They were then asked a series of questions using semantic differential and Likert scales to assess their perception of the criminal act committed in the randomly selected vignette. A one-way ANCOVA and a multiple regression test were performed to test the hypotheses.
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