Bodó, B. (2013), Set the Fox to Watch the Geese: Voluntary IP Regimes in Piratical File-Sharing Communities. In M. Fredriksson & J. Arvanitakis (Eds.), Piracy: Leakages from Modernity, Sacramento, CA: Litwin Books. censorship/fans/middlemen/publications/Scrapbook

A complex system of rules and governance mechanisms control the lives of piratical P2P file-sharing darknets and ensure the survival and the quality of the shared P2P resource pool. In some communities these rules include the voluntary intellectual property (IP) protection as well. I show three different examples of voluntary, bottom-up IP regimes in piratical file-sharing communities. I demonstrate that though the emergence of such norms may sound counter-intuitive, they are in fact logical consequences in the development of the underground file-sharing scene. I then move to discuss whether or not the long-term consolidation of such norms is harmonious with the default ethical vision of copyright. Here I show that current practices in the IP field are scattered in both the legal and the ethical dimensions, and stable (social, business) practices consolidate not according to their legality but according to whether they comply with the default ethical vision. Finally I suggest that voluntary IP regimes can be effective enforcement mechanisms that rights-holders should begin experiment with.

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