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Subscribers of Wanadoo Netherlands can download MP3s and videos twice as fast, thanks to a PeerCache set up by the company for users of KaZaA and other peer to peer networks.

Wanadoo's Dutch subsidiary has stored 0.8 terabyte of frequently asked files on local servers, and this cache reduces the volume of international traffic by 25 per cent or more, according to Wanadoo business development manager Lammert van Raan. Most Wanadoo subs in Europe are set to introduce PeerCache.

PeerCache is developed by Joltid, the Swedish company behind the P2P content distribution platform FastTrack, which most file sharing companies now use. Joltid was established by Niklas Zennström, co-founder of KaZaA.

With PeerCache installed, peers transparently query a local temporary cache. Only when a file is unavailable, KaZaA will get it from other users in the network. This means that hundreds of illegal files are stored locally, albeit in a barely recognisable form as 'data objects'.

PeerCache is highly controversial. Typically, files are only swapped between users; there is no central server for downloading. The KaZaA network merely points users to files contained on other PCs. For this reason The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) last week changed legal tack, threatening to file lawsuits against thousands of individual file traders.

"We believe the cache is legal," van Raan said. "The US, Australia and European Union have recently amended their copyright laws to permit temporary caching." Wanadoo also looked carefully at the recent Grokster and Morpheus cases. Neither companies are liable for piracy, a US federal judge ruled earlier this year.

Other Dutch ISPs have also experimented with the PeerCache, but stopped using it citing disappointment with the results, rather than legal fears. "We continued working with Joltid to improve the technology," says Van Raan. "The traffic reduction has improved dramatically." ®

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