In March 2007, a court ruled that Rapidshare could be held responsible for copyright violations committed by users who uploaded copyrighted material to their servers. Now, rumors are circulating that Rapidshare has been shutdown – this does not seem to be the case.
Rapidshare is one of the world’s largest file-hosting sites, with a claimed data storage capability in excess of 4 petabytes and offering at least 110 gigabits of bandwidth.
Almost exactly 1 year ago, P2PBlog reported that the German rights organization GEMA had gained a preliminary injunction against Rapidshare which ordered the company to stop hosting and distributing titles which GEMA represent.
Rapidshare made an appeal – but lost. The court decided that Rapidshare should be forced to monitor all uploads which infringed on GEMA’s copyright – a feat which the company said was impossible.
At the time, GEMA boss Dr. Harald Heker said that the Court’s decision shows that it’s not down to the rights holders to police commercial outfits such as Rapidshare for their copyright works. He went on to say that he felt that the decision would send a major signal to all file-hosting sites where copyright works are used to generate revenue for themselves.
Then in April 2007 it was reported that Rapidshare was fighting back, suing GEMA in response – with the aim of clarifying the legal position for file-hosting sites.
Now, rumors circulating on the web indicate that Rapidshare was shut down. Quite a few sites reported the news but this situation does not appear to be true. Rapidshare’s Wiki page is now closed due to vandalism which is believed to have carried erroneous information which contributed to the confusion.
According to a report, a Rapidshare technician said: “There are rumors concerning attacks made on the Rapidshare.com servers. There are also rumors that Rapidshare has been shut down by a court order. These rumors are false. We would like to apologize to our users and inform them that no data has been lost. There have been some hardware issues as a result of high bandwidth and server overload. We are doing our very best to resolve the hardware issues, and users should expect uptime by midnight tonight (GMT)”
There is no doubt that Rapidshare stores millions of files – including lots of music. The operators of Rapidshare claim they have no idea what material they store on their servers and are in no postion (much like a regular ISP) to monitor or police the content. The users upload the content, they say, and as such, it’s out of their control.
However, the injunctions issued by the District Court in Cologne indicate that Rapidshare’s liability for such infringements still exist as they were carried out during the course of Rapidshare’s business. GEMA head, Harald Heker said at the time: “The mere circumstance of shifting acts of use to users and the purported inability of the operator to control content do not relieve the operator of a service from the copyright liability he/she/it possesses for the content made available for download from the operator’s website(s).”
In the meantime, Rapidshare.com and Rapidshare.de continue to operate.
This article has been updated