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RapidShare: The Path Forward For File Hosting Websites?

Posted by: , 18:18 AEDT, Fri February 10, 2012
Tags: Copyright

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RapidShare has managed, in only a year, to get themselves removed from the RIAA/MPAA's "notorious markets" piracy list, and their attorney explains how this was done

Having successfully fought off several lawsuits, both in the US and elsewhere, perhaps the biggest legal victory for file hosting company RapidShare was the removal of the firm's name from the RIAA and MPAA's "notorious markets" list.

The RIAA and MPAA compiles a list of "notorious markets" for piracy every year, and having made the list in 2010, but subsequently being removed from the list in 2011, RapidShare may now hold the answers for an industry that is increasingly feeling the heat of recent law enforcement action.

A few weeks ago, file hosting Megaupload was shuttered by federal prosecutors, with its owners and operators arrested in an international operation. Since then, many file hosting websites has either closed shop, or have begun mass deletions of files suspected of containing infringing content.

But for the most part, RapidShare has remained calm in the face of calamity for the industry, and speaking to TorrentFreak, RapidShare attorney Daniel Raimer explains how RapidShare is managing to continue providing a valuable upload service to users, but still remain on the right side of the law.

Raimer explains that two major strategies exists behind RapidShare's "legalization": education, and pro-active enforcement. 

"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," Raimer explained, before adding "The fact that we were not included in the 2011 list is a result of these educational efforts" 

And to help explain what RapidShare "stands for", RapidShare took a leaf from the RIAA and MPAA's playbook and employed the services of top Washington lobbying firm, Dutko.

The education continues not only in words, but also in action, to tell major content holders that RapidShare wasn't solely in business just to make money off piracy, a charge that the US government has labelled at Megaupload. Raimer explains that by not having a rewards program which rewards either uploaders for uploading popular content (like the one offered by Hotfile, currently being sued by the MPAA), or to reward those that can bring in heavy downloaders willing to pay to download more (as in the case of Megaupload), RapidShare can avoid the legal scrutiny currently being faced by its rivals.

With the message out that RapidShare is not in the business to make money off piracy, the second major strategy RapidShare employs is in the pro-active removal of infringing content. Not only does RapidShare have a well-staffed anti-abuse department, that aims to process DMCA and other takedown notices in an efficient manner, Raimer also revealed that RapidShare has its own crawler that actively seeks out links to pirated content hosted on their website, and after verifying it is indeed infringing content, removes them without the content holders even getting involved.

"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," added Raimer. 

And all of this, Raimer believes, is what has put RapidShare in the RIAA/MPAA's good book, at least for now. While copyrighted content still exists on RapidShare's servers, Raimer believes that content holders are "realistic" about the unreasonable tasks of ensuring the service isn't being abused at all. "... they (rightsholders) know that there are limits as to what a reputable hosting service can do without hurting its legitimate customer base," concluded Raimer.


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