Founded in 2010, Rapidgator has grown to become an established name in the file-hosting business over the past decade.
The site has millions of regular users but is not particularly well-liked by copyright holders. This resulted in a spot on both US and EU lists of notorious piracy markets.
Rapidgator dismisses these characterizations and bills itself as a content-neutral hosting platform. The company accepts and processes DMCA takedown notices but in addition, we recently discovered that it also sends takedown notices itself to deal with problematic sites.
The Premium Link Generator Problem
Similar to many other hosting sites, third-party services actively abuse Rapidgator’s service. Specifically, some sites allow the public to generate ‘premium links,’ which effectively bypass the need to register for a paid account.
These ‘link generators’ use hacked or purchased premium accounts, which are then shared with the public at large. This is a relatively easy trick, but the affected sites see it as a threat to their business.
This is also the case for Rapidgator.net, which is incorporated as Northern Ireland company Y-Flex LLP. Over the past weeks, Rapidgator has started to use takedown notices to its advantage, asking Google to remove several problematic sites from its search results.
Rapidgator Starts Takedown Spree
The first notices we spotted were for ‘traditional’ copyright infringements. For example, Rapidgator.info was reported for using the official Rapidgator logo and misleading users. Another site that was flagged in a similar notice was Cloudzzer.
These traditional takedown requests had mixed results. Google removed some URLs but left others online.
More recently. Rapidgator started using another takedown tool. Instead of standard DMCA takedown notices, it sent DMCA anti-circumvention complaints. These tend to be even more effective, as targeted sites can’t submit standard counternotices.
These ‘anti-circumvention’ requests still have to be reviewed by Google and are not blindly accepted. That said, Rapidgator managed to remove several sites from Google’s search results, including a page on login site Bugmenot.
“Rapidgator.net premium account circumvention content: Webpage provide username and passwords of hacked accounts circumvention mechanism: passwords or access codes,” Y-Flex writes in a recent request to Google.
Rapidgator confirmed that these requests are indeed coming from its company. The site sees these premium link generators as a major problem and hopes to minimize the harm by making them harder to find.
“We try to delete such sites from Google search because their business model allows circumventing our website security,” the company adds.
Rapidgator is a Target Too
With these efforts, Rapidgator is trying to get something positive out of Google’s takedown policies. Previously it had mostly felt the negative consequences. The site’s homepage, for example, was removed after an erroneous request.
Rapidgator as also had more than 36 million of its own pages removed from Google, following takedown requests from copyright holders. This earns the site a spot in the top three most-targeted domain names on Google search.