Software Pirates, Music Pirates and Computer Cracks. The Thieves of Cyberspace: A Study Ascertaining the Extent and Discussing Predictors of Computer Crimes Among College Students

Matthew B. Neely, The College of Wooster


Computer crimes are a major problem for today's society. This thesis ascertains the extent and discusses predictors of computer crimes among college students. Three types of computer crimes were investigated: software piracy, piracy of music in electronic formats, and unauthorized computer use. Data were gathered using 179 self report questionnaires administered to College ofWooster students. The main theories used included Merton's theory of anomie, corporate culture theory, Derber's theory of wilding, and Sutherland's theory of differential association. Results showed that computer crimes were widespread among college students. Students who own computers were significantly (p < 0.004) more likely to commit software piracy than students who do not own computers. Peer involvement was a key predictor of computer crimes. However impersonal computer resources, such as web pages, computer bulletin boards and news groups, also had strong impact on computer criminals. Students' computer experience was significantly (p =< 0. 01) related to the frequency of unauthorized computer access. Further research is needed to determine ifthere are significant relationships between computer experience and other types of computer crimes. Students' attitudes towards lying, stealing and plagiarism were significantly (p =< 0.0004) related to students committing software piracy. Cost of computer software was the main motivation this piracy. More scholarly research on computer crimes is needed so that society can better understand and prevent this growing problem.


© Copyright 1999 Matthew B. Neely