What Is a Cyberlocker and Why Is It so Controversial?

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When authorities forced the January 2012 shutdown of MegaUpload.com, cyberlocker services were thrust into a very bad public light. DropBox, HotFile, RapidShare, MediaFire, MegaVideo: these are just some of the other cyberlocker services looking to get your business today, and they have a controversial cloud hanging over them. What exactly do cyberlockers do? And why are cyberlockers a threat to music and movie copyright?

Cyberlockers are third-party file-sharing services. Cyberlockers are also known as 'file hosting' services. Driven by advertising and subscriptions, these cyberlockers provide password-protected hard drive space online. You have the option of sharing the cyberlocker password information with friends, who can privately download whatever contents you put in those folders. The cyberlockers range in size from a couple hundred megabytes for their free services, all the way up to 2 or more gigabytes for their paid subscriptions. These storage sizes will increase as hardware becomes cheaper and bandwidth becomes more efficient over the months ahead.

Tools for Work and Personal Life

Much more convenient than sending file attachments, these cyberlockers are very useful for transferring documents and photos between friends. Perhaps you are collaborating on a PowerPoint show for a wedding, or you want to show your cousins your vacation photos from New Zealand. Instead of the annoying email blizzard of sending 46 photos through Gmail, you can simply drop them into your cyberlocker window through your browser. Your friends will access the content without worrying about a clogged inbox, and they can return the favor by sharing files with you.

Tools for Music Piracy

This is the concern for copyright authorities - because cyberlockers are so convenient and sophisticated enough to house large movie and music files, it is a common practice for people to share copies of .avi movies and .mp3 songs through their cyberlockers. And unlike BitTorrent file-sharing which is traceable, cyberlockers are very hard to monitor, as they employ one-to-one connectivity which is essentially invisible to surveillance tools. Because of this convenience and anonymity, cyberlockers are an ideal tool for trading pirated movie and music files.

What Are Good Cyberlocker Services? 

There are several cyberlocker services. They each offer varying size limits for either free subscriptions (i.e. blinking advertising) ​or paid subscriptions (larger size limits, no advertising). Some of the more popular cyberlocker services include: