Like most file-hosting services, RapidShare carries a wide range of movies, music and software files that are distributed without the consent of the rightsholders. This situation has caused the company to be dragged to court several times already.
One of the cases in which RapidShare lost was that against the movie rental company Capelight Pictures. This case was appealed by RapidShare and the Dusseldorf Court of Appeals overturned the earlier verdict yesterday, stating that the file-hoster is not responsible for any copyright infringements committed by its users.
“We are very happy about the judgment. The court has confirmed that RapidShare is not responsible for the contents of files uploaded by its users,” Rapidshare founder Christian Schmid said commenting to the outcome of the appeal.
“The judgment shows that attempts to denounce our business model as illegal will not be successful in the long run. With its 1-click-filehosting model, RapidShare responds to legitimate interests of its users and will continue to do so in the future,” Schmid added.
The arguments by the Court of Appeals go directly against earlier decisions in Germany where RapidShare was ordered to filter content proactively. The Court argued that RapidShare’s business is acting within the law and discounted the preventive measures that were suggested by the copyright holder.
Filtering based on keywords is not effective since that would result in many false positives, the Court noted. Likewise, manually reviewing uploaded content is not deemed feasible because RapidShare does not have the manpower to do this.
Another suggestion, banning file formats such as RARs, was also tossed out since this file type says little about whether a file is copyrighted or not. RAR is simply a format used to compress data, regardless of the copyrighted status of the files, the court explained.
The verdict is undoubtedly a major victory for RapidShare, and it will also reflect positively on other file-hosters and even torrent sites. In fact, many of the arguments used by the Court hold also for the average torrent site, as long as they stay away from other means of facilitating copyright infringement.