In the aftermath of the Megaupload shutdown, people have been keeping a close eye on other file-hosting services, RapidShare included.
As a company, RapidShare sees itself operating in the “cloud hosting” business, offering a service comparable to the likes of Dropbox. And since people are moving data from local drives to the cloud at an increasing rate, these companies will undoubtedly host some copyrighted material too.
During the past several years RapidShare has made tremendous efforts to cooperate with copyright holders and limit copyright infringements. The Swiss-based company is trying to position itself as a front-runner when it comes to responsible dealings with copyright infringers.
Emphasizing this role, the cyberlocker has just published an anti-piracy manifesto for cyberlockers, or a “responsible practices for cloud storage services” as they call it.
“RapidShare has always embraced our obligation to protect the intellectual property and copyright interests of creators. Today’s announcement takes that obligation to a new level,” said RapidShare’s general counsel Daniel Raimer commenting on the release.
The four page document is a summary of what RapidShare believes cyberlockers should do to assist copyright holders in preventing copyright infringements. While some of the suggestions are already baked into the US DMCA, several of the suggestions go above and beyond existing law, with inevitable consequences for the privacy of users.
It includes basic recommendations such as making files private by default, but it also goes further by granting copyright holders the power to get account holders disconnected when they are merely suspected of copyright infringement.
“Services should terminate account holders or subscribers not merely upon proof that they are infringers but when sufficient copyright holders have called their conduct into question,” RapidShare writes. Or in other words, account holders are guilty until proven innocent.
In addition, RapidShare also makes it mandatory for account holders to use valid email addresses, so these can be shared with copyright holders when there’s a legal dispute.
“Services should require valid e-mail addresses of subscribers and account holders in order for them to register new accounts. In the event a copyright holder seeks account holder information through valid legal procedures, the service should have access to valid e-mail address information to furnish in response, which may facilitate an inquiry to the e-mail service provider. “
“Privacy policies should establish that service providers retain the right to inspect files of repeat accused infringers or accused violators of the service’s terms of service who, after reasonable notice to them by the service provider, have made no good-faith counter notifications or efforts to justify their conduct as non-infringing or as not violating the service provider’s terms of service.”
Also, RapidShare recommends that cyberlockers operate from countries that respect copyright law.
“Service providers should either reside in a country that belongs to the Hague Convention for the Service of Process Abroad or should voluntarily comply with requests to waive service of process with respect to subpoenas for user information. They should also reside in a jurisdiction that shows respect for copyright law.”
In his announcement of the manifesto Raimer once again emphasized that his company is doing all it can to eradicate piracy.
“We want all stakeholders in the debate over online copyright infringement [...] to understand that RapidShare recognizes that piracy is a serious problem, that we’re reinforcing our efforts to eradicate it, and that we’re calling on other data logistics companies to do the same,” he said.
The company itself goes even beyond its own recommendations, by monitoring third-party sites and forums that post links to infringing material on RapidShare. In addition, the cyberlocker also decreased the download speeds of free users to drive pirates away.
Thus far the entertainment industry is quite content with RapidShare’s efforts, but whether the average RapidShare user is happy with these changes is doubtful.