A new study has looked at whether the fear of punishment influences peoples’ pirate behaviour.

Australian researchers studied whether risking punishment for illegally downloading movies influenced people’s purchases of legal content (in this case, cinema tickets)

A team from Macquarie University examined graduated response policies (designed to identify and ultimately punish those who are detected downloading copyrighted content) to check whether they met their objectives to increase sales of legal content. 

They found that countries which have introduced a 'three strike' policy, which identifies, cautions and ultimately punishes people who repeatedly download copyright content illegally, have not seen an increase in movie box office revenues.

Looking at box office revenue in six countries both before and after they introduced 'three strike' policy legislation revealed no consistent evidence that it produced better box office revenues in any of the markets.

The researchers say that this finding brings into question the efficacy of these types of laws, as one of the primary objectives was to increase sales in legitimate markets.

The full study is accessible here.