Rapidshare Shares Uploader Info with Rights Holders

In Germany, the file-hosting service Rapidshare has handed over the personal details of alleged copyright infringers to several major record labels. The information is used to pursue legal action against the Rapidshare users and at least one alleged uploader saw his house raided.

Like many new releases, Metallica’s latest album “Death Magnetic” was uploaded to the popular file hosting service Rapidshare one day prior to its official release date last year. Since users don’t broadcast their IP-address or distribute files to the public directly though Rapidshare, it came as a surprise when the police raided the house of an uploader a few weeks ago.

At first it was unclear how the identity of the uploader was revealed, but today German news outlet Gulli said it had found out that this was likely to be accomplished by creative use of paragraph 101 of German copyright law. It turns out that several record labels are using this to take legal action against those who share music on Rapidshare.

Previously the paragraph was only used by rights holders to get the personal details of those who share copyrighted works on file-sharing networks. It basically enables the copyright holders to get “permission” from a civil judge to ask ISPs to disclose the personal details of a user behind a certain IP. Now, however, this also seems to be the case for file-hosting services such as Rapidshare, which is based in Germany.

This of course opens up the possibility for rights holders to go after a wide range of file-hosting services and potentially even BitTorrent sites. Indeed, everyone who now uploads a torrent file to a site hosted in Germany is at risk of having his personal details revealed. Although it will be impossible to prove that the uploader actually seeded the file it might be seen as assisting in copyright infringement.

Pretty much all torrent sites keep track of the IP-addresses of their (.torrent) uploaders, and if the rights holders can get the IP-address of people who upload to file-hosting services such as Rapidshare, they can easily extend this to BitTorrent sites hosted in Germany. A dream come true for copyright holders, but a nightmare for the privacy of Internet users.

Too bad for Metallica’s Lars Ulrich who only just started sharing files himself.

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