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RapidShare Fined $33 million for Violating German Copyright Laws

RapidShare Fined $33 million for Violating German Copyright Laws

Court rules site, and others like it, are responsible for ensuring copyrighted material isn’t illegally hosted on their servers.

The Hamburg Regional Court of Germany has ruled against German-owned file hosting website RapidShare this past Tuesday. It found the site guilty of violation of German copyright law and set damages at about €24 million ($33.4 million).

In what could prove a key precedent, the court found Rapidshare, and by extension similar file-sharing sites, bear principle responsibility for ensuring copyright-protected material is not illegally posted on their servers.

The ruling was a major victory for German royalty collection agency GEMA, which had brought the suit against Rapidshare for allowing some 5,000 protected music titles to be posted on their site.

“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,” said GEMA in a press release. “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,” said Dr. Harald Heker, CEO of GEMA, in a statement. “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.”

Bobby Chang, COO of RapidShare AG, played down the significance of the verdict.

“We do not consider the court’s decision to be a breakthrough,” he said afterwards. “As other proceedings in similar disputes with GEMA have shown, there is considerable disparity amongst the individual courts in some cases.”

“Our experience is that the courts of appeal tend to restrict the scope of the decisions made by the lower courts. For this reason, we think that it would make 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.”

RapidShare’s been under assault by copyright holders for a while now, it’s most recent attacker being German book publishers who wanted the site placed on the ISP’s blacklist of blocked sites.

Stay tuned.

[email protected]

Jared Moya
I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates. Twitter | Google Plus
EHall
EHall

In response to DrewWilson's comment - while may be 'In this economy it's bad for everyone that a money making enterprise get’s hit like this' - the purchase price charged goes to cover the costs of all the people involved in the process - so in the case of music - royalties cover costs of the studio hire, the production staff (writer, musicians, producer etc), the marketing staff, the management staff, etc - surely it is better to keep all of these people in emplyoment rather than just one company?

Miegel
Miegel

Is there a site where the actual Court decision can be read ?

we must fight them on a world wide basis
we must fight them on a world wide basis

People of the p2p world and rapidshare we must fight these denegerates on a organised world wide scale. Cant you see this is a organised on a world wide scale to curb our rights. its us,freedom, against them. they are taking us back to the darkages of slavery that is why they need suveillance on civilians because they see us as threat to there master plans. we must fight before its too late we become there prisoners

D.AN
D.AN

The bastards just don't want to do their own dirty work. Hosting companies are only suppose to host files, as much as ISPs are only suppose to provide Internet services.

DrewWilson
DrewWilson

This is a dark day for German hosting companies. It's a legitimate business model that is being under assault here, not so-called "piracy". In this economy, it's bad for everyone that a money making enterprise get's hit like this.

skeptical
skeptical

Legit business model? When was the last time anyone downloaded anything "legitimate" off of Rapidshare? (ok, it probably happens every once in a while) I'm willing to wager that most of their money is made off of people who have Rapidshare accounts so that they can download copyrighted material or warez.

P2P Blog
P2P Blog

The actual verdict hasn't been published yet. All these articles are based in one form or another on a GEMA press release, which states that the court found the value of the matter to be 24 million Euros. The value of the matter (Streitwert) will be important if Rapidshare violates the verdict and some of these titles continue to pop up on the service, but it doesn't mean that Rapidshare has to send GEMA a 24 million Euro check.



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