Rapidshare Fined $34 Million for Copyright Infringement

Rapidshare Fined $34 Million for Copyright Infringement
Be careful with what you upload today. It might cost you a lot of money if the German courts find out.

As both The Daily Swarm and Idolator report, a Cologne judge has found file-sharing site Rapidshare guilty of infringement of copyright laws and responsible for damages totalling $34 million, payable to GEMA, Germany's music collection agency (akin to North America's RIAA).

According to the ruling, Rapidshare's servers illegally host copyrighted material and it is being shared without consent or financial recoup on the part of GEMA. The German organization brought the suit against Rapidshare, citing 5,000 protected music titles that are posted on the site. The ruling also finds that Rapidshare bear principle responsibility for ensuring copyright-protected material is not illegally posted on their servers.

A declaration issued by GEMA states, "The judgment states that the hosting service itself is now responsible for making sure that none of the music tracks concerned are distributed via its platform in the future. This means that the copyright holder is no longer required to perform the ongoing and complex checks.

The judgment of the Regional Court of Hamburg marks a milestone in GEMA's efforts to combat the illegal use of music works on the Internet. GEMA will continue to do everything it can to shield its members from online piracy. We are confident that in this way we will be able to reduce the illegal use of the GEMA repertoire on the Internet to a negligible level."

As Idolator notes, Rapidshare commented that this was just one court, which could be taken as either meaning the file-sharing organization will fight it (and potentially win) elsewhere or that it foresees other courts issuing the same rulings. Rapidshare then added that it made "more sense to work together to provide music fans with the right services at the right price and to open up a new source of income for music markets on the Internet," foreshadowing that a fee could be added to using Rapidshare in the future.