Like most file-hosting services, RapidShare hosts 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 on multiple occasions, but the file-hoster has come out the winner several times already.
In May this year, the United States District Court of California ruled that RapidShare is not guilty of copyright infringement. In a hearing closer to home for the Swiss company, a German court ruled in the same month that RapidShare cannot be held not liable for acts of copyright infringement committed by its users.
In a related case in Germany against the movie studio Capelight Pictures, RapidShare has booked another success after a lower court initially ruled against the file-hoster last year. RapidShare successfully appealed against a preliminary injunction granted by the Düsseldorf Regional Court, and the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf has now reversed the decision.
The dispute between Capelight Pictures and the file-hoster dealt with the question of whether RapidShare had undertaken all reasonable measures to counter the illegal distribution of one of the films owned by the movie outfit in Germany. While the lower court ruled RapidShare did not, the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf overturned this decision.
“The ruling is a further step in the right direction,” sad RapidShare lawyer Daniel Raimer. “The previously common practice of copyright holders [suing] RapidShare on the off-chance there might be something to be gained from it, misunderstanding the realities it is operating within and showing contempt for its business model, will no longer bear fruit. The newest court rulings in Germany and the USA indicate this very clearly.“
Christian Schmid, founder and CEO of RapidShare, commented: “We are also pleased with the ruling because it is connected to a claim for compensation of costs. Copyright holders should therefore think very carefully in future about whether they wouldn’t prefer to save themselves some time and above all the expense of suing RapidShare for something for which the company cannot be held liable.“
Together with the positive outcomes from the other court cases this year, RapidShare has less to worry about on the legal front in the future. The verdicts are undoubtedly a major victory for RapidShare, and they will also reflect positively on other file-hosters and even torrent sites. In fact, many of the arguments used by the Court also hold for the average torrent site, as long as they stay away from other means of facilitating copyright infringement.