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The tradeoffs between piracy and privacy are being fought on three continents as we speak. This issue puts the rights of citizens (specifically, the right to privacy) against the rights of copyright holders (specifically, the right to protect their intellectual property). Where will it end? Peer-to-peer distribution (i.e. BitTorrent) is becoming less economical due to the fear of prosecution. Usage Based Billing for broadband will also put a crimp in its style.

In North America, Time Warner lost a battle to limit the number of IP lookups the company must do at the request of those prosecuting copyrights. Time Warner appears to have been playing technically dumb in an effort to stand up for the privacy rights of their subscribers – essentially insisting that looking up IP addresses is a slow, tedious and expensive ($45 / lookup) process. Of course, if you only do a few, that is the case. But if you must do thousands, some simple automation should bring that cost down to pennies (or at least a couple of dollars). In France, about 50K violations are flagged each day; in January it was reported that the government’s HADOPI administrators were warning 2-10K of these users per day.
In Europe, TalkTalk and British Telecom (BT) are challenging the Digital Economy Act (DEA) based on similar grounds -- overstepping users’ rights to privacy, and being burdensome to ISPs.
Meanwhile, in Asia, Baidu’s document service (which allows public access to a variety of documents) found a needle in a HayStack – finding that less than 0.04% (1000 documents in 2.8 million) of the documents were non-infringing. Video distribution sites – notably YouKu and QiYi (owned by Baidu) – seem to be cooperating more fully with Hollywood, likely to ensure they remain viable investment vehicles to Western companies.

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