SWISS-BASED FILESHARING WEB SITE Rapidshare announced today that it is going to the German Supreme Court to fight the music rights association GEMA, which accused the company of copyright infringement on a grand scale.
The elevation of this legal action marks the latest step in a long running battle between Rapidshare, which describes itself as a file hoster, and GEMA.
"Rapidshare, with over 160 million stored files, 500,000 new uploads per day, and more than 42 million visitors daily, is one of the world's largest file-hosting services in the world. This service allows users to unlawfully acquire contents on a large scale. The resulting loss to copyright holders is immense," GEMA alleged.
As the world waits to see what is going to happen to filesharing and hosting web sites after the Megaupload takedown, the case has taken on new significance in Germany and beyond. This legal battle first saw Rapidshare's business model declared illegal in a German court. But that ruling was subsequently overturned by the higher regional court in Hamburg, apparently letting the file hosting company off the hook.
The regional court ruled that the file hoster must monitor third party web sites that link to files on its servers and block links to copyrighted material. Confusingly, both Rapidshare and GEMA said that this court decision was in their favour.
GEMA argued that the ruling confirms that Rapidshare must implement effective measures to prevent the use of illegal content. "The measures implemented by Rapidshare so far were determined to be insufficient. In particular, it is insufficient to only delete content after notification by the copyright holders. In fact, Rapidshare is obligated to implement additional measures to prevent a copyright infringement from occurring repeatedly," according to the rightsholders group.
In the wake of this ruling Rapidshare, which argues that it does take adequate action to monitor external web sites in order to fight copyright infringement, has elected to go to Germany's highest court, according to a report at The Hollywood Reporter. The company said that it has been forced to take this action as it hopes to prevent a German law from being passed that would make it compulsory for web sites to monitor other third party web sites.
We are waiting for comment from Rapidshare.
Rapidshare told The INQUIRER that if its Anti-Abuse Team identifies a download link on the company’s servers to a file that has clearly been published illegally, the file in question is immediately blocked.
However, Alexandra Zwingli, Rapidshare's CEO went on to explain that the company is taking its case to the highest court in Germany "of our own accord" because it has a strong interest in ensuring that its service remains clean. She said, "We believe that being obliged to carry out such actions is questionable from a legal perspective. For this reason we will appeal the verdict to clarify the issue of proactive monitoring of external websites at the highest judicial level." µ