Illegal Downloading Hub Rapidshare Faces Test in German Court Case

BY Shane SinnottPublished Oct 2, 2008

Rapidshare, one of the world’s largest file-hosting sites, and currently the 12th most visted website in the world, is under legal threat. The company lets you upload files and share them with others, and is widely used by music blogs and those wanting to send songs, albums and other media to each other without having to use p2p networks. A copyright-holding organization called GEMA in Germany has sued Rapidshare, and the court has ruled that, counter to their argument, Rapidshare’s efforts at screening out copyrighted material are insufficient.

In court, the company argued that copyrighted material that has appeared on their servers in the past is automatically pre-screened, and that six full-time staff members sift though material and respond to copyright complaints. The meat of the decision, as translated by the (blog p2p) is that "a business model that doesn't use common methods of prevention cannot claim the protection of the law," and that the fact that it would be nearly impossible for a company like Rapidshare to screen all its material doesn’t lesson its obligation to do so.

The rub, of course, is that it simply isn’t economically feasible for RapidShare to scan all its material, leading some to speculate that the company will close if the court ruling stands. While Rapidshare is hardly the only file-hosting service, it is the most widely used, and its downfall — if it occurs — should send shivers down the spine of anyone who relies on file-hosting to share music.

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