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Selective liability, regulated digital commerce, and the subversion of product trading bans: the case of elephant ivory

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This paper outlined and applied the concept of ‘selective liability’ (i.e., operating as if there was a genuine choice between fault-based and strict liability legal regimes) to examine the apparent plausible deniability pact between online selling platforms and the sellers. Through an analysis of online trading data, this paper considered the issues inherent in prosecuting traders who use online auction platforms to sell ivory in contravention of ‘CITES’ regulations. Three bone euphemisms for ivory (antique bovine bone, antique cow bone, antique Chinese cow bone) were identified to track sales over the course of 90 days. The results showed that sellers are using such euphemisms to sell ivory online and these findings highlighted the contradiction between a firm’s ban on ivory sales and the apparent ease with which ivory is sold through a website.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Dimensions of Wildlife
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 14 Aug 2020


  • 2020-0062.R3-Final

    Rights statement: The embargo end date of 2050 is a temporary measure until we know the publication date. Once we know the publication date the full text of this article will be able to view shortly afterwards.

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 356 KB, PDF document

    Due to publisher’s copyright restrictions, this document is not freely available to download from this website until: 1/01/50

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