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Old 16-03-12, 18:30   #1
 
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Default Court Orders RapidShare to Filter- Germany


German Court Orders RapidShare to Filter User Uploads

* Ernesto
* March 15, 2012

A Higher Regional Court in Germany has ruled that file-hosting service RapidShare must proactively filter thousands of files uploaded by its users. The Court confirmed three separate verdicts by a lower court, in cases that were started by book publishers and a music rights group. RapidShare has yet to decide whether it will appeal the verdicts, and informs TorrentFreak that there’s also positive news to report.

rapidshare logoIn common with every file-sharing service, RapidShare is used by some of its members to host infringing material.

During the past several years the Swiss-based cyberlocker has made tremendous efforts to cooperate with copyright holders and limit copyright infringements. But for some their efforts don’t go far enough. This has resulted in a variety of rightsholders starting legal proceedings against RapidShare, and not without success.

The most recent win came yesterday when a Higher Regional Court in Hamburg confirmed three rulings of a lower court. According to these verdicts, the file-hoster hasn’t done enough to prevent copyrighted material from being uploaded to its servers.

The cases, which involve thousands of titles, were started by music rights group GEMA and book publishers De Gruyter and Campus.

The Higher Regional Court in Hamburg reportedly ruled that RapidShare has to monitor user uploads to ensure that none of these titles are put onto their servers, which implies a mandatory filter and monitoring of all user uploads.

While a written copy of the verdict has not yet been made public, the book industry celebrated the outcome as a landmark victory.

“Internet sites can no longer avoid their responsibilities, and profit from copyright infringing uploads of anonymous users,” says Alexander Skipis, chief executive of the German Booksellers Association.

RapidShare is irked by this early celebration, which its spokesman Daniel Raimer describes as unprofessional.

“We consider it as unprofessional to assess a judgement before the written reasons for the judgment are available. Only then you can determine which party can indeed celebrate a verdict as a success,” Raimer told TorrentFreak.

Raimer explains that the copyright holders are leaving out essential details that are actually quite positive for the cyberlocker. Previously the lower court described RapidShare’s entire business as unlawful, but that decision has not been overturned.

“There is a possible reason for the rushed approach, particularly that of the Booksellers Association. In the hearing, the Higher Regional Court indicated that it would deviate from its former position according under which RapidShare’s business model was not tolerated by the legal system.”

“That shows that the release of a ‘jubilation announcement’ by the plaintiffs after the publication of the reasons for the judgment would simply not be possible anymore. We are relaxed and look forward to reading the written reasons for the judgment that are expected to be published within the next few days,” Raimer said.

It’s worth nothing that the German verdicts appear to contradict an earlier ruling by the highest European court. In February the European Court of Justice ruled that hosting sites can’t proactively filter copyrighted content as that would violate the privacy of users and hinder freedom of information.

RapidShare further informed us that they have yet to decide whether they’ll appeal the verdicts. Considering the European Court of Justice ruling, this might not be such a bad idea.

continued......
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Old 16-03-12, 18:33   #2
 
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Default Re: Court Orders RapidShare to Filter- Germany

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RapidShare: 404 Not Found for Free Users

* Ernesto
* February 24, 2012

Earlier we reported how RapidShare is throttling accounts of free users to drive away pirates.

Now, just a few hours later, the popular file-hosting service is entirely unavailable for users without a premium account.

All download links go to a ” 404 Not Found” page instead (example).

For paying users the service works normally.

At this point it’s unclear whether the message is intentional or a technical glitch.

TorrentFreak contacted RapidShare and we will update this post when a response comes in.

Update: Rapidshare explains that the 404s were not intentional. “This error is due to a website update and therefore not intentional. RapidShare is working on a solution so that these “false” links should work again soon,” a spokesperson said.
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Old 16-03-12, 18:35   #3
 
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Default Re: Court Orders RapidShare to Filter- Germany

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RapidShare Slows Download Speeds To Drive Away Pirates

* enigmax
* February 24, 2012

During the last week, users who rely on RapidShare’s free service have been complaining of reduced download speeds. Several theories have been circulating, mainly focusing on the file-hoster trying to drive users to take up premium accounts. But according to RapidShare the reason is simple – to drive pirates away from their service. Fast download speeds are still available for free, but they come at a different kind of cost.

During the wake of the Megaupload raids in January, TorrentFreak continuously monitored the cyberlocker world. We watched file-hosters panic and we watched bewildered users of their services try to find alternatives.

The fallout was fascinating to watch. Some hosters eventually closed down and some changed their policies, but it soon became clear that immediately usable capacity had become much more rare, at least on terms acceptable to users.

Interestingly – and despite the glaring omission of a cash rewards program – around warez blogs and release sites we saw an increased interest in RapidShare. Site users asked again and again for uploaders to put material up on the Swiss-based file-hoster.

Then a little over a week ago reports started coming in that users of RapidShare’s free service had experienced dramatic speed drops down to around 30/kbs. Speculation was rife that the company was exploiting the Megaupload closure fallout to drive users to their premium, non-limited products. So we asked RapidShare, and this was their fascinating response.

“On January 19th Megaupload was shut down by the FBI. Shortly thereafter, several other file hosters curbed their services or entirely stopped their operations,” the company told TorrentFreak.

“RapidShare has been faced with a severe increase in free user traffic and unfortunately also in the amount of abuse of our service ever since, suggesting that quite a few copyright infringers have chosen RapidShare as their new hoster of choice for their illegal activities,” the company explained.

“We have thus decided to take a painful yet effective step: to reduce the download speed for free users. We are confident that this will make RapidShare very unpopular amongst pirates and thus drive the abusive traffic away.”

RapidShare says that there is a direct link between free users of file-hosting services and copyright infringement. Those who like to pirate prefer not to pay, the company believes, not least because they want to avoid connecting their personal payment details to a copyright-infringing cyberlocker account.

Now, there will be those who say that however RapidShare dress it up, the company will be aware that the restrictions will drive users to their premium services to get better speeds. But interestingly RapidShare is now offering ways for users to get faster download speeds without paying a dime – providing those uploading the original files they’re trying to access do some work.

“We knew that through the action taken we would even affect some RapidPro customers, especially those who offer their own files via websites or blogs and heavily depend on a possibility for free users to download their files. Therefore, we have decided to offer those customers a kind of deregulation that allows free users to download their files with the fastest possible speed again,” the company says.

What this means is that uploaders of content will have to provide RapidShare with details on the nature of their account including what type of files they’re sharing, the name of the sites and blogs where the download links are getting posted, and the uploader’s email address and telephone number.

RapidShare adds that by signing up to the scheme, uploaders give the company the right to check their files and websites for illegal activities.

In recent months RapidShare has made substantial efforts to demonstrate it is a responsible file-hoster that takes the law seriously, but this action is perhaps the strongest indication yet that the company wants to disassociate itself from infringing content and a Megaupload-style fate.

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Old 16-03-12, 18:39   #4
 
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Default Re: Court Orders RapidShare to Filter- Germany

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RapidShare: From “Notorious Market” To Proactive Piracy Eliminator

* enigmax
* February 8, 2012

In a 2010 submission to the US Government, RapidShare was described by the RIAA and MPAA as a “notorious market” for pirated media. Just one year later the file-hosting service was given a tacit clean bill of health. TorrentFreak caught up with RapidShare attorney Daniel Raimer who explained that this achievement was down to a combination of education and industry-leading proactive anti-piracy measures.

In common with every file-sharing, video hosting or other digital storage facility on the web, RapidShare has been used by some of its members to host infringing material.

Just like Google-owned YouTube, RapidShare has been sued for the actions of its users and just like the video giant, has prevailed in court.

But despite the fact that in May 2010 the District Court of California ruled that RapidShare could not be held liable for the actions of its users (after all, RapidShare isn’t uploading the content and always responds to takedown requests), in November that very same year the company had an unwelcome surprise.

In a response to a request from the Office of the US Trade Representative, the RIAA submitted their list of foreign “notorious markets”. RapidShare was included but strangely, just one year later in 2011′s submission, the file-hosting company had been removed.

So how does a site go from being reported as supposedly one of the world’s worst infringers to being given a tacit clean bill of health?

RapidShare attorney Daniel Raimer tells TorrentFreak that their twin approach was to change the negative perception of the company and show, contrary to some rightsholder claims, how the file-hoster really cares about copyright protection.

“We decided to increase our efforts to explain what RapidShare really stands for and how we are spearheading the industry’s efforts to combat copyright infringements,” says Raimer.

In December 2010 it became clear that RapidShare would be taking these efforts right to the very top when the company hired Washington-based lobbying firm Dutko. Their mission:

“Develop and implement a coordinated government affairs/public relations program for RapidShare targeted at Congress, the Administration and the media to help counter negative attacks on the company from U.S. copyright interests.”

Time would show this was money well spent. One year later and the pressure was off.

“The fact that we were not included in the 2011 list is a result of these educational efforts,” Raimer explains.

But does the simple hiring of a lobbying firm guarantee success for a file-sharing site and enable it to avoid a Megaupload-style doomsday scenario? Well, not quite. Convincing rightsholders that protecting their interests is also part of the plan seems equally important.

So, through the prism of the Megaupload takedown and some of the accusations leveled at that site, TorrentFreak asked Daniel Raimer exactly what RapidShare has been doing to show the RIAA and MPAA it means business.

One controversial area is cyberlockers paying users on the amount of times their content gets downloaded, with a German anti-piracy group suggesting recently that good rewards only really come from uploading infringing content. Is it possible to run a “clean” rewards program?

“As you know, RapidShare does not have a rewards program, and the reason for this is pretty simple: we don’t want to be dragged into discussions about ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ rewards programs. What we want are customers, who appreciate our service and who are willing to pay for it, rather than customers who want to be paid themselves,” says Raimer.

“For more than five years, we have never had any serious outages; we try to establish industry leadership by fighting for privacy and against filtering on an international level.

“There are probably some people out there who don’t care about all that and who are just looking for a service that is paying them for uploading their files. Those people are obviously not the type of customers that we want, which is why they shouldn’t use RapidShare in the first place,” he adds.

Recently, Raimer has gone on record stating that service providers have a ‘moral’ responsibility to do more in the fight against piracy and that RapidShare is being more proactive than some of its competitors. So what exactly is the company doing to satisfy both the law and its own “moral” obligations?

Raimer told us that RapidShare has a well-staffed anti-abuse department that acts quickly on infringement notices and terminates the accounts of users who get caught violating copyrights three times. All fairly standard stuff for a company of RapidShare’s standing, but what about going beyond the call of duty?

Surprisingly, Raimer informs us that their abuse department has another job – to proactively search the Internet for potential infringements occurring on RapidShare’s service.

“We have developed a crawling technology that is constantly watching Internet forums, message boards and warez blogs for information about copyright infringement taking place on our system. The information collected by our software is then being evaluated, verified and processed by our anti-abuse department,” Raimer explains.

“Unfortunately, I cannot tell you any details about how this software works, but what I can tell you is that it is pretty sophisticated and that it is able to break most of the countermeasures that warez sites are using against automatic read-outs.”

This highly proactive anti-piracy stance is certainly intriguing, but will it lead to more friendly terms with rightsholders or will they see it as a chance to keep coming back for yet more concessions?

“I have once heard the sentence that some rightsholders try to create a perpetual motion machine, meaning that they will continue to come up with new demands regardless of what we do. This may certainly be true for some rightsholders who believe that the problem isn’t solved for as long as a single copy of their works can be found on the Internet,” says Raimer.

“Fortunately, most rightsholders turn out to be pretty realistic. Obviously, it is in their interest to protect their business and their copyrights, but they know that there are limits as to what a reputable hosting service can do without hurting its legitimate customer base,” he concludes.

For RapidShare, not hurting legitimate customers means respecting their privacy and not checking over their files. This ultimately means that although the company goes further than the law requires in some areas, RapidShare rejects proactive entertainment industry filtering requests, the Holy Grail of cyberlocker copyright enforcement.

RapidShare is certainly showing all the hallmarks of a responsible file-hosting service that meets its obligations under the law, and those it has set for itself on “moral” grounds. Only time will tell whether rightsholders view the company’s efforts as a strength, a weakness to be exploited, or a standard with which to beat other cyberlocker services about the head.
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Old 16-03-12, 18:42   #5
 
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Default Re: Court Orders RapidShare to Filter- Germany

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RapidShare Fights for “The Cloud” in Washington

* Ernesto
* October 6, 2011

It’s common knowledge that the entertainment industry is lobbying extensively in Washington to get tougher copyright laws adopted. In a counter-move the file-hosting company RapidShare has hired lobbyists of its own. TorrentFreak got a chance to talk to RapidShare’s general counsel Daniel Raimer, to find out what their main motives are and how open Washington is to their message.

rapidshareLegislation currently on the table in Washington threatens the Internet as we know it. The PROTECT IP Act in particular could mean the end for many web services.

The PROTECT IP Act gives authorities and copyright holders a broad range of tools to censor sites they deem to be facilitating copyright infringement. Aside from domain seizures, they can demand that search engines remove ‘rogue sites’ from their results, order ISPs to block their domains, and cut off their payments.

But what exactly is a rogue site? Judges will often base their verdicts merely on descriptions of entertainment industry groups such as the RIAA and the MPAA. According to RapidShare, one of the oldest file-hosting services, this is a problem.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, RapidShare general counsel Daniel Raimer confirmed that this vagueness is one of the main reasons why they hired lobbying firms to represent their interests in Washington. RapidShare has been frequently labeled a piracy haven and a rogue site by the entertainment industry, but Raimer said this is not justified.

“RapidShare’s goal in Washington is the same goal it has in the marketplace: to reassure potential customers that it is doing everything in its power to eradicate abuse. The officials that RapidShare has met with appreciate the company’s openness and willingness to assert industry leadership,” Raimer told TorrentFreak.

According to RapidShare, U.S. policymakers and opinion leaders have welcomed the opportunity to learn more about the company’s side of the story.

As a company, RapidShare sees itself operating in the “cloud hosting” business, offering a service comparable to the likes of Dropbox. And since people are moving data from local drives to the cloud at an increasing rate, these companies will undoubtedly host some copyrighted material too.

The question is then, what defines whether these cloud hosting services are labeled as ‘rogue’ operations, and when does it become warranted to seize their domain names?

“It is imperative that our governments need to have serious and well-thought discussions about cloud computing services,” Raimer told TorrentFreak.

“These discussions should be about consumer interests, about privacy concerns, about the content industry’s wish for the implementation of content recognition and filter technologies and the way providers are expected to deal with illegal content.”

Over recent years, RapidShare has taken a very strict stance against copyright infringement; disconnecting repeated offenders and even going after sites that index content hosted on their servers. Despite these efforts, they are still seen as a piracy haven by many.

By sharing their concerns RapidShare is trying to convince lawmakers that the picture is not as black and white as the RIAA and MPAA often paint it. A good discussion is needed to carefully determine what the rights and obligations of cloud hosting services are.

“RapidShare would like to be a constructive participant in these discussions as a ‘best practices’ leader. We have more knowledge on how to crack down against copyright abuse than any other company in the industry,” Raimer said.

“We have a 24/7 anti-abuse department, as well as a repeat infringer policy; DMCA take-down notices are instituted within one hour during regular business hours; we do not have reward program –to identify only a few of our efforts,” RapidShare’s general counsel added.

There are of course limits to what RapidShare is willing to do to protect the interests of copyright holders. Not to hinder the entertainment industries, but to secure the privacy of its customers.

“We have always highly respected our users’ privacy. We don’t analyze and filter files. By our terms of service we are strictly forbidden to access and open our users’ files – and we strictly abide by that,” Raimer said.

RapidShare believes that their decision to directly talk to the lawmakers in Washington has been the right one. The officials they have talked to are very eager to hear the other side of the story, and RapidShare’s efforts bring some much needed balance to the table.

Whether it will pay off, and to what extent, is something we’ll have to wait and see in the coming months.
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Old 16-03-12, 18:44   #6
 
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Default Re: Court Orders RapidShare to Filter- Germany

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RapidShare Lobbies Lawmakers Against PROTECT IP Act

* Ernesto
* September 15, 2011


Earlier this year U.S. lawmakers proposed a draconian anti-piracy legislation known as the PROTECT IP Act. When the proposal becomes law, U.S. authorities and copyright holders will have the power to seize domains, block websites and censor search engines to prevent copyright infringements. But file-hosting service RapidShare have a lot to lose by its introduction and are now spending a great deal of money countering the views of pro-copyright lobbyists.

rapidshareLate last year both the MPAA and RIAA informed the Office of the US Trade Representative that RapidShare is a piracy haven, a so-called rogue website.

In the hope of correcting this and other misconceptions surrounding their operations, RapidShare then took the unprecedented step of hiring the lobbying firm Dutko Worldwide, who also work for Google.

Initially, little was known about the priorities of RapidShare in Washington, but the most recent lobbying report filed by Dutko reveals that the PROTECT IP Act is high up the list. For good reason, because if the bill becomes law RapidShare could be one of the first to be put out of business, in the United States at least.

Under the PROTECT IP Act, authorities (and copyright holders) will have a broad range of tools to censor sites they deem to be facilitating copyright infringement, starting with domain seizures.

In case a domain is not registered or controlled by a U.S. company, authorities can order search engines to remove the website from their search results and order ISPs to block the website.

Although the above measures are already quite far-reaching, the bill also allows for private copyright holders to use some of the same tools as the Government. Without due process, copyright holders can obtain a court order to prevent payment providers and ad-networks from doing business with sites that allegedly facilitate copyright infringement.

One of the many problems of such a law is who gets to decide what the definition of a “rogue website” is. In common with other file-sharing platforms, RapidShare is often labeled as seriously problematic, despite the fact that they’ve been found to operate legally by a U.S. federal court. This could lead to a situation where hundreds of legitimate businesses are virtually shut down because the entertainment industry sees them as a threat.

To make lawmakers aware of these threats and to improve their image in Washington, RapidShare has already spent $260,000 in lobbying efforts during the first half of 2011.

The PROTECT IP Act, currently placed on hold by Senator Ron Wyden, is crucial in this regard as the RIAA and MPAA have already labeled RapidShare as a rogue website. This means that when the bill is signed into law the file-hoster could be one of the first companies to be targeted.

Whether RapidShare’s lobbying efforts in Washington will pay off is yet to be seen. It is no secret that entertainment industry groups are lobbying extensively in favor of the PROTECT IP Act, with much bigger budgets. That said, it’s certainly better than standing idly by.

In the coming months RapidShare is expected to continue their lobbying efforts at the White House Office, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Not only against the PROTECT IP Act, but to improve the image of their company and protect their rights and those of other file-hosting services.
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