Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Few studies have synthesized accumulated scholarly knowledge on software piracy across the disciplines that study this phenomenon. We contribute to understanding the intellectual and social development on software piracy by performing a cross-disciplinary literature search. We used 17 research questions to address five specific areas of inquiry on software piracy research: 1) what makes up software piracy’s intellectual substance?, 2) do theoretical contributions on software piracy suggest a cross-disciplinary research community on the topic?, 3) what changes have occurred in software piracy research across the seven measured periods?, 4) what are the top IS journals’ publishing patterns on software piracy research?, and 5) who has contributed to software piracy research? To address these questions, we classified 179 software research studies. We found that: 1) over 50 percent of the studies focused on an individual level of analysis, 2) most papers examined software piracy in North America and Asia Pacific regions, although other regions also have major problems, and 3) the distribution of theoretical and methodological contributions show a pattern of leaning towards positivism. The findings point to several research opportunities including expanding research: 1) at organizational levels with particular emphasis on organizations’ role as consumers and or intermediaries, 2) in Latin America and Africa, which are areas with high incidence of software piracy, and 3) on approaches beyond positivism.