RapidShare has been sending out legal threats to link sites and search engines that use its trademark to encourage users to download copyrighted material. The company is demanding that these sites cease their operations and hand over their domain names to RapidShare, voluntarily or through domain disputes.
A few weeks ago we revealed that Rapidshare was looking forward to collaborating with the entertainment industry, and that it would increasingly terminate the accounts of persistent copyright infringers.
This move is part of a new strategy for the file-hoster, which will also see it go after third party sites who use the RapidShare trademark to ‘promote’ or encourage copyright infringement.
“We are extending our efforts to proceed against linking-sites, against so called RapidShare search engines and against individuals who abuse our trademark to distribute copyright protected content,” RapidShare’s departing CEO Bobby Chang wrote to the entertainment industry.
Several weeks later it seems that RapidShare is indeed keeping its word. The company has recently sent out requests to a slew of site owners demanding that they stop abusing the RapidShare trademark for nefarious purposes. In addition, RapidShare has filed several domain disputes against similar sites, hoping to scoop their domains.
Among the targets are Rapidshare.net, Rapid.org (formerly Rapidfind) and Rapidshare4movies.com, all sites that allow users to find content available on RapidShare.
In the letters sent by RapidShare’s lawyers, site owners are asked to stop encouraging people to use RapidShare for copyright infringement (i.e. close their sites) and transfer the domain to RapidShare within two weeks. Among other things, the lawyers cite trademark abuse and unfair competition as the reasons why RapidShare is taking these actions.
Whether this strategy is in the best interests of its users has to be doubted. TorrentFreak spoke to several site owners who were targeted by RapidShare and none of them are planning to capitulate.
“We find it amazing, considering the amount of traffic and inevitably premium memberships we drive towards Rapidshare, that they target us in such an aggressive manner and turn on their own customers,” the founder of Rapid.org told TorrentFreak.
“We will not comply with ludicrous threats, such as to hand over the domain, and we will continue building our already large community. If at any point it becomes necessary for us to support alternative filehosts and/or create our own, we are capable and willing to do just that,” he added.
Aside from legal pressure, the file-hoster has also filed several WIPO domain disputes in the last week against sites that use the word ‘RapidShare’ in their domain names. If successful, these disputes could shutter many popular sites that were built on the RapidShare brand.
In the legal paperwork RapidShare clearly states that it does not want its site to be used for copyright infringement. By closing the linking sites and search engines they most likely hope to improve their relationship with the entertainment industry and avoid being shut down themselves.