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Regulating mediators of internet piracy: P2P websites and cyberlockers

Jason M. Walter (University of Wisconsin Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin, USA)

Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance

ISSN: 2398-5038

Article publication date: 4 September 2019

Issue publication date: 23 September 2019




Contemporary copyright infringement has significantly changed in the digital era, and because of the unique attributes of internet piracy and method of exchange, traditional regulatory approaches are ineffective. The characteristics of digital goods enable users to almost costlessly copy and exchange content. Much of the contemporary research fails to incorporate the necessary components of exchange that are central to digital piracy. This paper aims to examine the role of peer-to-peer network hosts and the often-omitted cyberlocker.


A simple framework is constructed that describes how these entities how these entities facilitate digital piracy and operate financially. This framework illustrates the objectives of piracy mediators, highlighting the avenues by which regulation can craft policy. Additional examination of online piracy highlights the challenges of contemporary policy to combat digital piracy due to the secondary consequences.


Recent policies, aimed at diminishing piracy, would infringe on consumers’ privacy, hurt business finances or strategically used by rivals to hurt the operations of legal entities. Trying to prevent illegal sources (or facilitators) of pirate goods from providing access to files continues to be challenging. In many instances, the blurry line between a legal platform for file exchange and a piracy haven creates significant regulatory problems. For known piracy promoters (host sites or cyberlockers), location and revenue streams continue to limit direct intervention.


This paper discusses the necessary path for piracy to occur by including previously omitted agents necessary for communication and/or distribution. My analysis incorporates these entities that facilitate piracy and the unique features of digital exchange, which has industrial and regulatory implications. Furthermore, my results highlight why regulators have been ineffective in crafting meaningful anti-piracy policy.



I am grateful to the editor, Carys Morley, and two anonymous referees for their insightful comments and suggestions, which led to significant improvements to the manuscript. All remaining errors are my own.University of Wisconsin-Stout, 441B Harvey Hall, Menomonie, WI, 54751. Email:*The author declares that he has received no funding for this research and has no other conflict of interest.


Walter, J.M. (2019), "Regulating mediators of internet piracy: P2P websites and cyberlockers", Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 494-509.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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