Well-publicised global legal action by the recording industry may simply become a game of cat-and-mouse, a new report claims.

A four-year research project by assistant professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business, Markus Giesler, concludes most file-sharers are prepared to risk legal action by the business, on the basis of the classic numbers game theory: "They can't sue us all".

Giesler dismisses existing understandings of consumer risk, saying: "Most of our understanding of consumer behaviour is at best, 'technology neutral' and, at worst, rooted in both theoretical and empirical work with product categories which have essentially remained unchanged for many years with respect to their underlying technologies."

Pointing to the expanding role of technology across markets, and its implications for consumers, he adds: "Consumers undermine dominant market structures and gain marketplace empowerment because technologies like the Internet provide a powerful communicative infrastructure, whose bounded anonymity they use to collectivize risk."

He essentially argues that consumers will continue to risk litigation because of their belief that, with the numbers of users involved, they stand limited risk of being sued.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has characterised Apple's iTunes Music Store as not in competition with other legal music services, but "with piracy".

He believes that delivering a good consumer experience, offering a wide choice of music, and other compelling consumer-friendly features will help Apple's service compete with file-sharing networks.