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Summary:

A German appeals court recently dismissed a lower court verdict against Switzerland-based one-click host site RapidShare, noting that the company can’t be held responsible for the actions of its users. The Dusseldorf-based court also found that there are no reasonable ways for RapidShare to control file […]

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A German appeals court recently dismissed a lower court verdict against Switzerland-based one-click host site RapidShare, noting that the company can’t be held responsible for the actions of its users. The Dusseldorf-based court also found that there are no reasonable ways for RapidShare to control file uploads without possibly restricting local fair use laws.

Rapidhare had been sued by a rights holder for distributing copies of movies like An American Crime and Eagle vs. Shark, and a lower court issued a preliminary injunction against the file hoster last summer. That injunction followed similar court decisions against RapidShare in lawsuits waged by music and e-book rights holders. However, the Dusseldorf-based court was not impressed with the arguments in these cases, noting instead that “most people utilize RapidShare for legal use cases.”

The court decision, which was published a few days ago, points out that RapidShare is not operating any type of index or search engine that would make files stored on its service publicly accessible. Instead, it’s the users that decide whether or not to publish a link to files they have uploaded — and the fact that some of them abuse the service is not enough to sanction RapidShare itself.

German law does provide the ability to go after companies that willfully enable infringement, which has some implications for forum owners and file hosters, one of them being that a hoster has to not only take down specific copies of an infringing file, but also try to prevent further copies from being uploaded. However, RapidShare won’t have to try too hard. The Dusseldorf-based court found that it’s easy to circumvent any upload filters and than manual control of all uploads is simply not feasible.

The court also brought up an interesting point: German copyright allows users to make copies of movies and music files for their own use, as well as to share them with a limited number of close acquaintances. Automated filters would make it impossible for users to save a legal backup copy of a movie on RapidShare’s servers.

RapidShare has been fighting with rights holders in courts for years, but the company has also in recent months made some attempts to appease entertainment companies and help the monetize their content. It premiered a movie download service last December, and its CEO recently told rights holders that he wants to help them sell content to RapidShare users.

Related content on GigaOm Pro: The Quest to Monetize File Sharing (subscription required)

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  1. wooo great news…long live rapidshare

  2. Scott Jensen Monday, May 3, 2010

    Such victories will force the movie, TV and publishing industries to move away from the current user-pay model to the advertiser-pay model (click on my name for a 2003 white paper on that model). But as long as these industries think they can keep their old business model alive through the courts, they’ll try to do so. Few people have the courage to jump from a sinking ship with no lifeboats and swim to another ship in dangerous waters until the ship they’re on is below the waves. Yes, staying on board that long could pull one down with the ship, but rational thought usually loses at such moments.

    Each of these legal victories is like another torpedo into the hull of the ship. Even if they are able to plug some of the holes, it only takes one to sink the ship.

    On the bright side, it also only takes one shipmate to successfully swim to the other ship for many others to try to do likewise. And after a few have successfully made it to the other ship … even though others have drowned in the attempt … almost all of the rest will jump in and try.

    One of the reasons why I have bookmarked this blog and make it part of my morning routine is on the off-chance that you guys will report that first successful swim-over. It is going to happen one of these days. I hope you alert me to it when he or she is just about to dive off the ship for the other ship. It will be a fascinating historic event to witness.

  3. Good decision and the right one. A huge can of worms would have been opened if they ruled any other way.

  4. Rapidshare gana el juicio: la compañía no es responsable de las acciones de sus usuarios [ENG] Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    [...] Rapidshare gana el juicio: la compañía no es responsable de las acciones de sus usuarios [ENG] newteevee.com/2010/05/03/rapidshare-wins-in-court/  por ikipol hace 2 segundos [...]

  5. Rapidshare gana el juicio: la compañía no es responsable de las acciones de sus usuarios [ENG] | Noticias hmx Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    [...] » noticia original [...]

  6. Court: RapidShare doesn’t need to filter user uploads Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    [...] to the Oberlandesgericht (Appeals court) Düsseldorf, which overturned the lower court's decision. According to the new ruling, RapidShare cannot be held responsible for actions of third parties, since it forces people to [...]

  7. Court: RapidShare doesn’t need to filter user uploads « Digital Asylum Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    [...] Oberlandesgericht (Appeals court) Düsseldorf, which overturned the lower court’s decision. According to the new ruling, RapidShare cannot be held responsible for actions of third parties, since it forces people to [...]

  8. LOL

    “most people utilize RapidShare for legal use cases.”

    YEAH RIGHT!

  9. Rapidshare Gana el Juicio sobre la Responsabilidad del Contenido. | GeeksRoom Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    [...] newteevee [...]

  10. German Appeals Court: Rapidshare Not Liable for User Uploads Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    [...] [Hat Tip] AKPC_IDS += "89019,"; [...]

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