A widely published research report from the brand protection company MarkMonitor has outraged the Swiss based cyberlocker RapidShare, who might sue for defamation. The research branded RapidShare as the leading digital piracy site with 13 billion page visits a year, while the site’s management has gone to extreme lengths to emphasize its legitimacy, both in and outside court.
In the last year RapidShare has taken extreme measures to ensure that they are operating legitimately. The company is actively working with copyright holders to meet their needs and has employed various take down tools comparable to those found at YouTube.
In legal action the cyberlocker site has been active and successful, winning cases in both the US and Germany where courts ruled that RapidShare runs a perfectly legal business. Despite these efforts both the RIAA and MPAA have marked RapidShare as one of the largest piracy havens, and this stance was reaffirmed yesterday by a paper published by brand protection company MarkMonitor.
In this study, which was picked up by dozens of mainstream news outlets, it is concluded that the Swiss cyberlocker is the largest ‘digital piracy site’ with a massive 13 billion pageviews. Although RapidShare is indeed a big player in the cyberlocker market, being labeled as a piracy site has hugely offended the site’s owners, who might go as far as taking legal action in response to statements they view as defamatory.
“This defamation of RapidShare as a digital piracy site is absurd and we reserve the right to take legal action against MarkMonitor. RapidShare is a legitimate company that offers its customers fast, simple and secure storage and management of large amounts of data via our servers,” the company announced today.
One of the main problems according to RapidShare, is the use of pageviews as an indication of the scope of the ‘piracy’ that occurs on a site. The company claims that the majority of its consumers use the site for legitimate reasons, which means that they should be discounted. Also, if pageviews were an indication then YouTube should really be branded the biggest digital piracy site on the Internet, with hundreds of millions of copyrighted videos published without the owners’ permission.
However, YouTube was intentionally left out of the study, incorrectly according to RapidShare.
“In an interview with mediapost.com MarkMonitor’s vice president of communications Te Smith said that she did not consider websites like YouTube piracy sites as they ‘have procedures in place where brandowners can take down the material.’ RapidShare offers the exact same take down features to copyright owners as YouTube does. Now, where is the difference?”
TorrentFreak asked MarkMonitor’s Te Smith to clarify why they chose to exclude YouTube but include RapidShare, despite both companies being committed to working with copyright holders. Although she could not answer our question directly, Smith did say that her company stands behind their research which is claimed to be independent.
For RapidShare the MarkMonitor report is another affirmation that they have a long way to go before they can shake off the piracy stigma, which they are committed to do. The company continues to seek dialogue with copyright holders and has most recently employed lobbyists in Washington to look after its interests.
“The study confirmed our resolution to actively raise awareness about what RapidShare is and what RapidShare does. Therefore, we have mandated a Washington-based lobbying firm some weeks ago. We are optimistic that this decision will eventually pay off,” RapidShare concludes.