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German Appeals Court: Rapidshare Not Liable for User Uploads

German Appeals Court: Rapidshare Not Liable for User Uploads

Wins appeal of earlier court decision that had ordered the file-hosting site to prevent users from uploading copyrighted material, ruling that the links aren’t public, and that it’s users who are responsible for illegally share copyrighted material with others, not Rapidshare.

The German-owned file-hosting site Rapidshare won a stunning victory in court yesterday, winning its long-running appeal of an earlier court decision that it proactively remove copyrighted material from the site and begin preventing users from uploading it as well.

” We are very happy about the judgment. The court has confirmed that RapidShare is not responsible for the contents of files uploaded by its users,” says the site. “The judgment shows that attempts to denounce our business model as illegal will not be successful in the long run. With its 1-click-filehosting model, RapidShare responds to legitimate interests of its users and will continue to do so in the future.”

The Court of Appeals Düsseldorf found that Rapidshare is not liable for the copyright infringement committed by third parties using the service, and that the site itself doesn’t make copyrighted material “publicly available.” Rather, its business is based on providing confidential access to content.

Links to copyrighted files are not made public, and it’s the user themselves who make the conscious decision to make them available to others in violation of copyright law. Hence, Rapidshare does not distribute copyrighted material, its users do.

The court also took aim at the lower court ruling that ordered Rapidshare to begin proactively remove copyrighted material. It says that a “manual checking of uploaded files is not reasonable for Rapidshare and the automated verification of files is largely inappropriate.”

It says the reason why is that it wouldn’t work. Filtering risks false positives on on a number of levels, that based on file name is “inappropriate” and “arbitrary” , and that based on file type is also “inappropriate” because there’s no “compelling indicator” it contains illegal material.

Blocking IP addresses was even rejected because it doesn’t identify the user responsible for the illegal conduct, only the location where it occurred.

Most compelling of of all is that the court cited the fact that the country’s Copyright Act allows people to “save a legally acquired copy of (a) film on external servers for private purposes.” Whether this person does or does not decide to reveal the corresponding ‘location’ in public” is entirely up to him and not Rapidshare.

Stay tuned.

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[Hat Tip]

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

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