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Exploring the supply of pirate software for mobile devices: An analysis of software types and piracy groups

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Purpose ‐ Software piracy is an ongoing problem for software producers. At the same time, mobile devices such as personal digital assistants and smart phones are increasing in popularity. This paper seeks to examine the supply of pirate software for mobile devices, against a backdrop of conventional desktop piracy theory. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Using a novel data set of pirate software releases, the paper reviews 18,000 entries from a pirate software database to examine the type and origin of this software. Findings ‐ The paper finds that more popular platforms are not necessarily subject to greater levels of software piracy. For mobile devices, productivity software was more popular than game software. Many piracy groups were involved, but only four groups were responsible for over half of all releases. Some popular devices, such as the Blackberry and Apple iPhone, showed little to no piracy levels. Research limitations/implications ‐ As with empirical research into any criminal or deviant behaviour, there may be intention to deceive. The findings regarding device popularity and availability of pirate software have implications for demand-side research. Practical implications ‐ The findings provide insights for business managers and information security professionals in the telecommunications and mobile applications industries. Originality/value ‐ Prior research work has focused on software for desktop computers. This study contributes by being some of the first published work on piracy for mobile devices. The work is also original in that most prior research has focused on the demand for pirate software. This paper provides insight into the supply of this software.

Keywords: Copyright law; Data security; Information systems; Integrated software; Mobile communication systems

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-10-12

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