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The debate over the true impact of piracy is likely to intensify between now and this summer, as several of the country’s largest Internet service providers inch closer to voluntarily implementing anti-piracy policies from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Both the RIAA and MPAA met with several ISPs last July to discuss voluntary policies to discourage internet subscribers from illegally downloading music, movies, video games, and other software. The ISPs participating in the anti-piracy measures — Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon FiOS, Time Warner Cable and others — should be ready to implement the new policies by July 2012, said RIAA Chief Executive Cary Sherman at an event in New York yesterday.

“Each ISP has to develop their infrastructure for automating the system … (necessary) for establishing the database so they can keep track of repeat infringers” Sherman said. “Every ISP has to do it differently depending on the architecture of its particular network. Some are nearing completion and others are a little further from completion.”

Many people believe that turning ISPs into piracy police will infringe on their right to privacy. The ISPs do have access to everything a person browses on the internet, but they are legally unable to share that information with third-parties without explicit consent from users. Others point out that this is less about wanting to stop digital piracy and more about big media companies’ failure to innovate. On the other side of the fence, copyright holders claim that they’re losing millions of dollars due to piracy.

Piracy does cost content makers a lot of money. In addition to the alleged lost sales, efforts to stop piracy are also costly, as you can see in the infographic below. (Click image to enlarge.)

Infographic via Background Check Blog

Cost of Piracy Infographic

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