German court declares Rapidshare legal but says it must monitor incoming links to copyright infringing files
The file-hosting service Rapidshare has been told that it may continue operations under the stipulation that it monitors all external sites linking to copyright infringing files.
The decision, handed down by a Higher Regional Court in Hamburg, declared that the cyberlocker had a legal business model, a point of dispute with other file-hosting sites embroiled in legal battles, including Hotfile and Megaupload.
“For the first time the Hamburg Higher Regional Court has followed our line of argument on key points and has conferred legal legitimacy on our service, just as other courts have done over a considerable period of time,” said CEO of Rapidshare Alexandra Zwingli. “This is a significant result for us.”
TorrentFreak reports that this court success comes a few weeks after copyright holders claimed that the cyberlocker would be forced to filter all uploads for infringing content. This recent decision is less restrictive to the site’s operators, requiring them to monitor sites rather than files.
“That is exactly what Rapidshare has already been doing for many years,” Zwingli said. “If the Anti-Abuse Team identifies a download link on such pages which results in a file that has clearly been published illegally being on the company’s servers, the file in question is immediately blocked.”
Rapidshare has previously implemented measures to prevent pirates settling on its servers. Last month it was revealed that the service’s data speeds had been cut hugely for free users.
“Rapidshare has been faced with a severe increase in free user traffic and unfortunately also in the amount of abuse of our service [since Megaupload closed], suggesting that quite a few copyright infringers have chosen Rapidshare as their new hoster of choice for their illegal activities,” the company said in a statement to TorrentFreak.
“We have thus decided to take a painful yet effective step: to reduce the download speed for free users. We are confident that this will make Rapidshare very unpopular amongst pirates and thus drive the abusive traffic away.”
Having already proved that it is fighting pirates, Rapidshare said that the monitoring order given by the court was “questionable from a legal perspective”. It said it would appeal the specific order at the Supreme Court.
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