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Rapidshare Trying To Convert Pirates Into Customers 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the arrr-me-hearties dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from TorrentFreak: "The file-hosting service Rapidshare is seeking major entertainment industry partners for an online store [to which links containing infringing material will redirect]. The plan is an attempt to bridge the gap between copyright holders and users of the site who distribute infringing material. Similar to many other companies that operate in the file-sharing business, Rapidshare often finds itself caught between two fires. On the one hand it wants to optimize the user experience, but by doing so they have to respect the rights holders to avoid being continuously dragged to court. To ease the minds of some major executives in the entertainment industry, Rapidshare's General Manager Bobby Chang has revealed an ambitious plan through which copyright holders could benefit from the file-hosting service. At the same time, Chang says that his company will target uploaders of copyrighted material — whom he refers to as criminals — more aggressively."
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Rapidshare Trying To Convert Pirates Into Customers

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  • This will fail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damburger (981828) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:40PM (#31648096)
    Because pirates already *are* customers. Classifying the world into 'criminal' pirates and paying customers is idiotic, and with such a faulty premise, then no matter how well thought out this plan is, it is doomed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Because pirates already *are* customers. Classifying the world into 'criminal' pirates and paying customers is idiotic

      Exactly. They should be classifying them into paying customers and non-paying customers. Then they could gear their new store toward the paying customers in order to sales goals.

      • Re:This will fail (Score:5, Insightful)

        by damburger (981828) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @01:00PM (#31648262)
        That classification is also flawed. What if people sometimes pay, sometimes pirate? You can classify the activity, but not the person.
        • Re:This will fail (Score:4, Interesting)

          by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @01:19PM (#31648424)

          That classification is also flawed. What if people sometimes pay, sometimes pirate? You can classify the activity, but not the person.

          OK, paying customers, non-paying customers and occasionally-paying customers.

          Trying to separate the activity from the person who performs the activity is disingenuous, IMHO. The activity will not occur on its own - it requires the person to perform it.

          • Re:This will fail (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mysidia (191772) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @02:14PM (#31648930)

            Ok.. so what happens if you buy an MP3 from Walmart or Napster's store, and you now own the song

            But you find you need an unencrypted MP3 file to be able to play it on your new MP3 player, and the DRM-laden file is useless.

            Are you a non-paying customer if you go to rapidshare and download that file?

            I say you are neither pirate, nor non-paying customer. You already bought a copy of that data, you paid for those bits, and the publisher already got their cut.

            Now your only option to exercise your fair use right of playing the media is to actually go find someone who has altered the datafile to make it unencrypted.

            That's because, it's illegal to exchange or sell 'copy protection circumvention' technologies that decrypt music. The only way you can legally remove DRM for a file is to download a file with the encryption removed from someone else who also legally owns a copy.

            The bits are still the same, and the content is still the same (unmodified), you have just acquired an unencrypted version of a file you already own, through the assistance of a third party providing you the decrypted version of the bits.

            • Re:This will fail (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Sunday March 28, 2010 @03:31PM (#31649576)

              If you buy a song on iTunes, delete it/lose it, and then want to redownload it from iTunes, are you able to? No.

              I download a game from Steam (technically, I "subscribe" to that game - wording to get around the right of resale), and I reformat/delete it/lose it etc., I can always grab it again at no charge pretty much as many times as I need to.

              iTunes treats purchases like physical items and Steam treats purchases as licenses.

              The subscription/license on a per-item basis of digital purchases is probably the best for the consumer IMO. If you buy a song, $0.99 is ridiculous for the data itself. If it were $0.99 for a license to own a copy of that song, it would seem wholly less ridiculous.

              I can redownload games on Steam if I have to, so I use Steam. (The DRM is also unobtrusive.) I can't redownload songs on iTunes without paying for them, so I don't use iTunes. Simple as that.

              Doing it the "license" way would also render P2P and the like null and void. If I purchased a hard copy of the White Album (for the fifth time) and downloaded some lossless digital files, I'm considered a pirate. Hell, if I rip the files from the CD and put it on my cell phone I'm considered a pirate. You just can't win the way things are nowadays. No wonder people pirate. I get my ass taken to court for downloading the White Album? Whoops, I already purchased it and are therefore entitled to download it.

              Sadly, I imagine it will be some time before the market and/or the law gets more in line with sanity.

              The day that the *AAs either get their heads out of their collective asses or collapse under their own weight is the day that the music industry will be better for (almost) everyone: artists, producers, composers, songwriters, and most importantly customers. Sure, corporate lawyers and *AA management will get the shaft, but they deserve at least that for their nigh-criminal business tactics of that last 100 years.

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by mysidia (191772)

                If you buy a song on iTunes, delete it/lose it, and then want to redownload it from iTunes, are you able to? No.

                That depends. In some circumstances, you can get apple to reset it and let you re-download the file without paying anything more.

                There's a reason for this. It costs something to pay for the bandwidth to download a file. And $0.99 per song gives them only a slim profit margin -- most of the money goes to music company, so if you downloaded several times, there would be no profit for Apple (du

                • by Kalriath (849904)

                  If they allowed free re-download, people would abuse it -- by installing iTunes on multiple of their computers, and using iTunes to download to additional computers at Apple's expense instead of syncing themselves.

                  Um, try open iTunes on multiple computers, sign them all into the iTunes store, then buy a track or video. Note that all of the computers start downloading it. I used to get pissed off at this behaviour when my laptop and desktop would both start downloading 1.7GB of TV program when I don't want it on the laptop.

              • If you buy a song on iTunes, delete it/lose it, and then want to redownload it from iTunes, are you able to? No.

                Um, yes, yes you can. I lost my purchased audio to a dead harddrive, sent an email to iTunes, they flicked a bit that determined whether my purchases had been downloaded yet, and next time I connected to iTunes, they all came flooding down. I had to put up with a bit of backup tut-tutting in the email response from them, and they don't advertise it as a feature, but they'll let you do it without any dramas (as long, I assume, as you don't abuse it).

            • Audio out on/phone jack on the Audio Plauer to audio in on your sound card then just record. Seems perfectly legal since I'm just capturing the sound just like my ears coming out of the Audio Player?
            • I say you are neither pirate, nor non-paying customer.

              Sorry, but no. It's still piracy. You paid for a DRM-laden file, and a DRM-laden file is all you're entitled to. That's not to say that I would find the practice particularly objectionable, but just know, it's not supported by law.

              The copyright-holder has the right to close off any distribution avenue they like for their work (to within fair use). You can reason this in terms of finance. Basically it undercuts their ability to sell a cheaper, inferior, D

              • Re:This will fail (Score:5, Informative)

                by genner (694963) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @04:47PM (#31650122)

                I say you are neither pirate, nor non-paying customer.

                Sorry, but no. It's still piracy. You paid for a DRM-laden file, and a DRM-laden file is all you're entitled to. That's not to say that I would find the practice particularly objectionable, but just know, it's not supported by law.

                The copyright-holder has the right to close off any distribution avenue they like for their work (to within fair use). You can reason this in terms of finance. Basically it undercuts their ability to sell a cheaper, inferior, DRMed version, and a more expensive DRM-free version.

                Nope, that's wrong. The DMCA has no fair use provision. Breaking DRM for any reason is illegal now. God bless America.

          • by bughunter (10093)

            It's more like: fanboys (or locked in victims) who will (or must) pay for everything, cheapskates who won't/can't pay for anything, and discriminating customers who only pay for quality.

            The first category you don't have to worry about. These are the ones who will buy your DRMed crap as long as it;s released for their platform, and it has enough "buzz." (Or in the case of the locked-in victims, these are the ones you've already captured.) And really, the same goes for the second category - you don't have

        • Re:This will fail (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dontmakemethink (1186169) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @02:09PM (#31648892)

          Classification has nothing to do with it. You do the crime, you do the time, regardless of how much time you've spent not committing crimes.

          It's a moot issue anyway. Rapidshare has been copied so many times over that they have absolutely no pull to make this happen. If they interfere with the dissemination of illegal content their user base will drop like a lead balloon. Just by attempting to address the issue they've acknowledged that piracy constitutes a significant segment of their business. The whole idea is self-defeating.

    • by jim_v2000 (818799)
      Explain how pirates are customers?
      • Explain how pirates are customers?

        You see, it's like this:
        * You ride in a cab and then jump out without paying once you get to your destination
        * While you were in the cab you were a customer "Hey, don't take 22nd St, it's always a mess this time of day" (ie, the customer is always right)
        * Once you jump out of the cab without paying you're a pirate "Argh, matey, try to catch me now, you scurvy dawg" (works with or without the eyepatch)

        So you see, even if you are a pirate you can also be considered a customer.

        Sorry the analogy sucks

      • Does this [guardian.co.uk] help?

      • by Dhalka226 (559740)

        I'm not sure if this is what he was going for, frankly but I believe he's right.

        Rapidshare is not in the business of selling copyrighted materials (or at least they weren't up until today). They are in the business of hosting file uploads which, admittedly, are used a lot (primarily?) to share copyrighted materials without license.

        Rapidshare's customers are the people who view their ad impressions, or who literally pay Rapidshare to avoid the queuing system. Many of these customers are also pirates ba

    • by Nathrael (1251426)
      Not only are they customers, I'm quite sure they also make up the *majority* of Rapidshare's customers. Why would you want to pay for a RS subscription if you weren't using it to DL a large amount of rar archives?
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Its worked so well for the *AA to demonize ( and sue ) their customers.

    • by Nikker (749551)
      I do agree this plans execution is flawed but the concept of offering licensed software is not that bad of an idea. Mr Chan has shot himself in the foot by pursuing up loaders because they are the ones driving the traffic to his servers. Once he has "eliminated" all of these apparent "criminals" then where, Mr Chan will people see all these wonderful adverts for legitimate software?
    • by nog_lorp (896553)

      What are you talking about, faulty premise? That is not a 'premise' of this plan.
      In fact, the distinction is not meaningful at all to this situation; you are quibbling over how people on Slashdot refer to varieties of Rapidshare users.

      Rapidshare is going to start making taken-down warez link to an online store where people can buy it from the owner.
      This does not rely on some distinction between "people who are pirates" and "people who are customers", it only distinguishes the act of someone trying to downlo

    • Not only will it fail, if it happens it will fail with Rapidshare and partners in court defending themselves against criminal charges.
  • by junglebeast (1497399) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:43PM (#31648140)

    I think this would have been more aptly named:

    "Rapidshare Trying To GET RID OF their Customers who are Pirates"

    instead of

    "Rapidshare Trying To Convert Pirates Into Customers" ..which is just...the opposite.

    • The term customers is simply ambiguous. In this case, it means customers of the "entertainment industry". It may also mean rapidshare customers, as rapidshare might get a cut for their redirect, depending on their business model. But yes, if a single person clicks on that redirect and purchases the software/music/movie legally, then the website has converted a would-be pirate into a legitimate customer.
  • Um, No? (Score:5, Funny)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:45PM (#31648154)

    The file-hosting service Rapidshare is seeking major entertainment industry partners for an online store

    If they are in fact pirates then trying to setup a store for them is probably a waste of time. Though I must commend them for nicely putting everything in one location and inviting pirates to come for a visit. Rocket surgery, indeed.

  • by Keruo (771880) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:51PM (#31648210)
    Just say no to rapidshare and alike "please pay us or wait imaginary seconds for a download slot" sites.

    You can use google docs to share large files.
    • Windows Live SkyDrive works too, and has 25gb space instead of Docs' 1gb. On the down side SkyDrive has a 50mb per-file limit. Dropbox also has free public downloads, 2gb total space.
      • Really?

        A friend of mine needed to download some files from my server and no matter what route we tried (https, http, ftp), he just couldn't get to the files without some manner of corruption of the files. So eventually I pointed to my free Dropbox Account so he could download from there. These were two files of 122.4MB and 137.3MB. He e-mailed a while later that he couldn't download the 30MB file; I already got the reason why in an e-mail from dropbox a bit earlier:

        This email is an automated notification

    • http://dl.free.fr/ [dl.free.fr]

      Not the fastest in the world, unless you're on Free (the ISP)'s network, but by far one of the best. Files are limited to 1GB if you use the HTTP upload feature, or 10GB if you use the FTP upload feature. Files are retained for 30 days from last download, no download limit.

      FTP requires valid email address (username), and temporary password (user defined) which creates a 48h "session", used for resuming the upload in case it fails initially. Once the upload is complete they send an e
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, 2010 @01:01PM (#31648272)

    As a former "pirate" I do not think this will work. Most "pirates" just want free stuff.. they do not have any problems with movie/software/music industry! They just have gotten used to getting everything for free and see no reason to pay if it is available for free.

    Now I do not download stuff anymore but I also do not buy it either. Most of that stuff just isn't worth the price being asked for IMHO.

    Everyone still riding the freeloading bandwagon - try 'quitting' - you'll realize most of that stuff you never need or can live by without just fine.

    • I'll openly admit that by the twisted definition of "software pirate" in popular use today, I qualify. But the interesting thing is, I've bought quite a bit of software over the years too. In relation to my total income, I probably spend a larger percentage on "intellectual property" than the average "I don't pirate!" user out there.

      The companies trying to rule with an iron fist of copy protection create much of the problem for those of us who have the means to buy software.

      Here's just one recent example.

    • Out of interest, what made you quit?

    • As a former "pirate" I do not think this will work. Most "pirates" just want free stuff.

      I disagree. As a former "pirate" myself, I think there are two types of pirates. There are those who'll try and collect every byte they can, and brag about their music collections, and there's those who actually want the content. I stopped when iTunes became just as, if not more, convenient to use than trawling IRC channels for FTP details (and when I found a reliable way to strip iTunes DRM as soon as I'd purchased a track).

  • Were Rapidshare, Mediafire, et al ever intended to be used for sharing illegal content? I would think they weren't, since Rapidshare removes copyrighted material when it finds it, along with some of the other file sharing hosts (SendSpace, Mediafire, etc)...

  • Lip service (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OpenSourced (323149) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @01:15PM (#31648396) Journal

    I'd say that is just lip service for the benefit of the content providers. A way of saying "see? we are doing things, and you can work with us (and pay us in the process)".

    Basically, rapidshare doesn't know which content is copyrighted or not, as a good percentage of it is encrypted, and that percentage is sure to grow if any kind of countermeasure is tried. You have to manually search the blogs for the password to be able to know if the content is copyrighted or not. The economics of it is non-existent.

    So the basic system of the storage-download sites have to change for it to reduce copyrighted works copying, and that's also unlikely except via legislation. I think this is just an attempt to move the legislation threat a bit further away in time.

  • Megaupload (Score:2, Insightful)

    by grendel03 (926696)

    Megaupload is better for that sort of thing anyway.

  • Rapidshare is changing, perhaps the catalyst was this decision: TorrentFreak [torrentfreak.com] and also the fact that they share uploader information with rights-holders: TorrentFreak [torrentfreak.com]. All in all I think this represents a change of strategy by rights-holders: they know they can't win any public sympathy by suing the life-blood out of a single-mother with a family of five so instead they are going after the faceless "platforms." So, geeks, write some decentralized platforms now! Something that ideally lets you put in a see
    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Web of trust has its own problems, best illustrated by the old Soviet jape:

      When four men sit down to talk revolution, three are government agents and the fourth is a fool.

      • by headkase (533448)
        Vouching to get in and never seeing anyone above you like in World War II allied prison camps worked decently but is it scalable? If you could establish a backbone then go back a few decades and its people going over to their friends house (who happens to have access to the backbone or knows someone who does) to get data. Of course it won't be the latest stuff as this introduces lag into distribution. Then there is the sheer amount of data which is what p2p solves right now, someone having that exact mp3
        • by Reziac (43301) *

          The cell system of security, yes -- you can vouch for yourself and the 2 or 3 people you know, but you can't vouch for any of the 2 or 3 people each of your 2 or 3 contacts knows. The advantage is that if it's compromised and those members are removed, it immediately breaks at that point so most of the system remains safe. The disadvantage is that any single person can't know how much of the system is compromised *without* members being removed, nor how close he is to being betrayed.

          So.. infiltrations don't

          • by headkase (533448)
            I don't want to pirate, I want to buy with reasonable terms. Government right now is on a crusade to preserve old business models and damn everything else. I want to see more varied things tried because they represent competition. None of that benefits the incumbents right now so they are fighting tooth and nail against it with every dirty trick. I see piracy as a force to drag obsolete business models into the 21st century, they sure as hell won't come on their own. When it comes down to my decision:
            • by Reziac (43301) *

              Unfortunately that's how the current generation of management think -- they've got Ivy-League business degrees but have never actually BUILT a business from the ground up, so they only think of maximizing short-term profits. If that costs them a much larger long-term profit, or even kills the business, well, we got ours today, if the business dies tomorrow because we were so short-sighted, too bad! we'll move on to another business and gut it the same way.

              It's not just the music industry that's afflicted wi

              • by headkase (533448)
                Its unfortunate that short-sighted fools are dragging everyone down. I think part of a way out is trumpeting a fair public domain. Get it down to 20 years and get people used to being able to download the original Alien and put it on all their devices for free. Instead of lip-service today, if it doesn't happen in my lifetime: there is no public domain.
                • by Reziac (43301) *

                  Well, yes, I agree -- cutting copyright back to its originally intended period would largely uncouple it from corporate greed, since it wouldn't be worth protecting after a certain point anyway -- so they'd be more inclined to focus on new content instead of on old tired content. Which of course was the whole idea behind a LIMITED copyright period in the first place, to encourage new stuff and to enlarge the public domain.

                  As to stuff that's out of copyright, there's a good business printing classics and suc

    • by grumbel (592662)

      Something that ideally lets you put in a seed and that is your first connection and then web-of-trust from there!

      A WoT sounds nice in theory, but has it ever worked out in practice? The problem is that you need lots of friends to make it work, but hardly anybody has enough friends for that, even less so trusted ones that also use the same software. And when you then fall back to friends you found on the Internet you are opening yourself up to untrusted people.

  • Rapidshare has shuttered it's "windows" and gone out of business.

  • From TFS:

    At the same time, Chang says that his company will target uploaders of copyrighted material -- whom he refers to as criminals -- more aggressively."

    I admit to not knowing a lot about this - but isn't the model of busting users, then deciding to bust the pushers because without pushers, there won't be users?

    I've got neighborhoods in my town that suggest that attacking symptoms instead of root causes for problems will never work.

    But as I said, I'm not terribly knowledgeable on this and I could applying the wrong simile.

  • We wouldn't want anything to 'appen to it.
  • I don't get it, why would anyone use Rapidshare/Megaupload/whatever for warez when there are plenty of good solutions for sharing data that don't involve handing your files over to a third party (and thus requiring the use of proxy servers if you wish to keep a semblance of security and anonymity)?

    I mean, sure, there were a bunch of warez websites back in the 90's that used various web storage/hosting sites to host rips of games and movies but I thought that had died out by 2000 or so...

    • by glwtta (532858)
      Speed.
    • by eulernet (1132389)

      Explanation: it's because when you use P2P, there is a good 50% chance that you are tracked when you download a recent movie.
      With Rapidshare/Megaupload, there is no such apparent tracking.

      About uploading files, there are several multi-upload sites that allow to do that securely.

      And, in my case, these hosting sites are much faster than BitTorrent, since I have a very slow connection.
      Note also that there is a cool program to download queued files from most of the hosting sites, that bypasses the captchas and

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