The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/windows/end-of-ie-support).

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Måns Svensson

Måns Svensson

Senior lecturer (Leave of Absence)

Måns Svensson

Law, Norms, Piracy and Online Anonymity – Practices of de-identification in the global file sharing community

Author

  • Stefan Larsson
  • Måns Svensson
  • Marcin De Kaminski
  • Kari Rönkkö
  • Johanna Alkan Olsson

Summary, in English

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to better understand online anonymity in the global file-sharing community in the context of social norms and copyright law. The study describes the respondents in terms of use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) or similar services with respect to age, gender, geographical location, as well as analysing the correlation with file-sharing frequencies.



Design/methodology/approach

This study, to a large extent, collected descriptive data through a web-based survey. This was carried out in collaboration with the BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay (TPB), which allowed us to link the survey from the main logo of their site. In 72 hours, we received over 75,000 responses, providing the opportunity to compare use of anonymity services with factors of age, geographical region, file-sharing frequency, etc.



Findings

Overall, 17.8 per cent of the respondents used a VPN or similar service (free or paid). A core of high-frequency uploaders is more inclined to use VPNs or similar services than the average file sharer. Online anonymity practices in the file-sharing community depend on how legal and social norms correlate (more enforcement means more anonymity).



Research limitations/implications

The web-based survey was in English and mainly attracted visitors on The Pirate Bay’s web site. This means that it is likely that those who do not have the language skills necessary were excluded from the survey.

Practical implications

This study adds to the knowledge of online anonymity practices in terms of traceability and identification, and therefore describes some of the conditions for legal enforcement in a digital environment.



Social implications

This study adds to the knowledge of how the Internet is changing in terms of a polarization between stronger means of legally enforced identification and a growing awareness of how to be more untraceable.



Originality/value

The scale of the survey, with over 75,000 respondents from most parts of the world, has likely not been seen before on this topic. The descriptive study of anonymity practices in the global file-sharing community is therefore likely unique.

Department/s

  • Department of Sociology of Law
  • Lund University Internet Institute (LUii)
  • Centre for Work, Technology and Social Change (WTS)

Publishing year

2012

Language

English

Pages

260-280

Publication/Series

Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing: Special Issue on Digital Piracy

Volume

6

Issue

4

Document type

Journal article

Publisher

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Topic

  • Information Systems, Social aspects
  • Law and Society

Keywords

  • Anonymity
  • VPN
  • traceability
  • piracy
  • copyright
  • The Pirate Bay
  • file sharing
  • enforcement
  • social norms.

Status

Published

Project

  • Cybernorms. Norm processes in e-communities

Research group

  • Cybernorms

ISBN/ISSN/Other

  • ISSN: 2040-7130