RapidShare Shows MPAA/RIAA: We Can Lobby Lawmakers Too

Last month RapidShare discovered that they had been reported by the MPAA and RIAA to the US Government for being one of the world's "most notorious pirate markets". Now, on the heels of reports that the entertainment industries spent a small fortune lobbying for domain seizures in the last quarter, RapidShare has hired a Washington based lobbying firm to represent its interests in the US and to start correcting misconceptions.

rapdsharelogo“Rapidshare is a German One-click hosting site that operates from Switzerland but whose main servers are based in Germany,” the RIAA wrote in its submission to the US Government in November.

In describing the file-hoster’s activities, the RIAA suggested that many of the files posted to RapidShare – whose URLs were then posted to blogs – contained pre-release content, an eye-catching offense in the US for those that posted the files and links, but not necessarily RapidShare.

In its submission to the Office of the US Trade Representative, the MPAA said that cyberlockers such as RapidShare were put forward because their main source of traffic is driven by the availability of vast amounts of infringing content on their servers.

“As you can imagine, we’re not very happy about that,” said Daniel Raimer, attorney and spokesman for RapidShare, in a just published interview.

As illustrated by the Lobbying Registration form shown below, RapidShare is now out to present their side of the story. The company has hired Washington based lobbying firm Dutko to send a clear message to the RIAA and MPAA that they aren’t the only ones who can lobby the US Government.

Lobbying Registration form

Drawing comparisons with Google, Daniel Raimer says the inclusion of the company on the “most notorious” list is unfair since RapidShare, like the search giant, is prepared to filter content. While some cooperation with the entertainment industries seems inevitable, it remains to be seen how interested they will be in an informal filtering agreement, especially since even enforced ones can easily go off course.

When it comes to lobbying, RapidShare will be up against formidable and well practised opponents. As revealed this month, in the last quarter alone the MPAA and RIAA spent a combined total of $1.8 million on lobbying in Washington. Public records reveal that these entertainment industry groups focused heavily on legislation and authorities involved in domain name seizures.

Of course, following the recent domain name seizures carried out by DHS and ICE, it seems that lobbying paid off nicely. RapidShare will be keen to avoid a similar devastating fate, particularly given its status on the “most notorious” list.

However, even for the mighty US Government, taking on RapidShare in a domain war would be an entirely different prospect to picking a squabble with the relative minnows targeted in November, but RapidShare has much to lose and is taking no chances.

The aim is for RapidShare to be removed from the list of “Notorious Markets” by early 2011. They’re in for one hell of a fight.

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