File-sharing site RapidShare deemed legal by court

RapidShare is widely known as an invaluable tool for the illegal sharing of copyrighted digital material. Much like Megaupload, which was shuttered earlier this year when company founder Kim Dotcom was arrested and charged with racketeering and violating anti-piracy laws, RapidShare allows users to upload any file and share a link with other users who may then download the content. While some users share files legally with RapidShare, millions more upload copyrighted movies, music and eBooks which are then downloaded illegally by others around the world who find links to the files on blogs or through special search engines. Following a preliminary ruling, a court in Germany has now declared RapidShare to be legal, but it must utilize a monitoring mechanisms if it wishes to remain operational. Read on for more.

In its fight against GEMA and German book publishers in Germany, RapidShare was ordered to implement a system that would monitor for copyrighted content uploaded to its servers. Now, however, the court has amended its decision according to TorrentFreak. Rather than monitor files being uploaded to its servers and block copyrighted content — which may be stored legally if it is not shared — RapidShare must create a system to monitor in-bound links from other websites that may point to infringing material.

“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. This is a significant result for us,” said RapidShare CEO Alexandra Zwingli. “That is exactly what RapidShare has already been doing for many years. 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.”

Because RapidShare is already taking the measure outlined by the court, it plans to appeal the new decision to Germany’s Supreme Court. “We are doing this of our own accord because we have a strong interest in ensuring that our service remains clean,” Zwingli told TorrentFreak. “We believe that being obliged to carry out such actions is questionable from a legal perspective. For this reason we will appeal the verdict to clarify the issue of proactive monitoring of external websites at the highest judicial level.”

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