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Piracy The Courts

RapidShare Threatens Suit Over Piracy Allegations 183

Posted by samzenpus
from the sticks-and-stones dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "PC Magazine reports that RapidShare, named as a contributor to digital piracy by a MarkMonitor report, has threatened to sue for defamation. 'This defamation of RapidShare as a digital piracy site is absurd and we reserve the right to take legal action against MarkMonitor,' says RapidShare in a statement. 'RapidShare is a legitimate company that offers its customers fast, simple and secure storage and management of large amounts of data via our servers.' MarkMonitor, a Web site that specializes in 'enterprise brand protection,' says in their study that the most-trafficked domains engaged in digital piracy included three sites — rapidshare.com, megavideo.com, and megaupload.com — that combined yielded 21 billion pageviews per year. RapidShare acknowledged that copyrighted files do get uploaded to its site, however 'these users are in the absolute minority compared with those who use our services to pursue perfectly legitimate interests.' RapidShare says that it does not open and view the files of its users, and contains no search function so that other users may look for content."
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RapidShare Threatens Suit Over Piracy Allegations

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  • by Kneo24 (688412) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @05:46AM (#34859460) Homepage
    Just in my own personal experience, I've never seen Rapidshare used for legal means. I've never heard of anyone using it for legal means. I'm not saying that it can't happen or doesn't happen, but I really do wonder how much of their business is business done without breaking copyright laws. Furthermore, if they never open up the files put on their servers, how the hell would they know whether there's copyright infringement going on in the first place? You can't claim for absolute certainty that your core business doesn't rely on law breakers when you don't monitor what your customers are doing. You have to view data somewhere at some point to have a reasonable conclusion.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2011 @05:48AM (#34859472)

      Just in my own personal experience, I've never seen Rapidshare used for legal means.

      No offense, but that probably says more about you than it does about Rapidshare.

      • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:35AM (#34860032)
        Here are a few Rapidshare search engines.
        Look towards the bottom at "Recent searches" how many of those look legal to you? (in case you're still under any delusions about whats hosted on rapidshare some of the titles are definitely NSFW)
        http://www.filecrop.com/
        http://rapidsharesearcher.com/
        http://blog.egexa.com/download/
        http://fileknow.com/recent

        I fully support file sharing and the downfall of copyright law, but lets not lie to ourselves please.
        • by Kilrah_il (1692978) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:52AM (#34860144)

          This is called selection bias. People who use RS for legitimate use, share the links with the intended recipient only. The files are not searched by anonymous people throughout the web on these sites. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't search http://rapidsharesearcher.com/ [rapidsharesearcher.com] for "Presentation for 2011 shareholder meeting.pps".
          You are using sites that are used by people who d/l illegal files to show that RS is used for illegal d/l. If you look into Toyota's site, you would see that most of the searches on that site are for cars made by Toyota. Ergo, most people drive Toyota!

        • by Eil (82413)

          I don't think those rapidshare search queries are accurate. For example, one of the recent queries on FileCrop is "John Tesh". That's obviously not a real search. Nobody would search for that. A real search would have been prefixed with the phrase, "how to murder".

    • by Kilrah_il (1692978) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @05:54AM (#34859506)

      Well, if you see a file uploaded to RS and then it is downloaded by 10,000 users, it is probably not used for legal reasons. If, OTOH, it is downloaded by 1 other user, there is a higher chance it is used for a legal reasons.
      Of course, this is not conclusive evidence: A file can be sent to a whole group via RS and still be legit, and a movie can be sent illegally from one person to another. But still, usage statistics can give you some idea as to the legality of the files without opening them.

      • I've seen RapidShare used for game patches and mods and I'd imagine that most of these are downloaded by 10,000 users.
    • You mean if somebody posts a rapidshare link to 100 gigs of porn on 4chan you assume that the images are being distributed against their license? How do you know? Did you check?

    • by somersault (912633) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @06:02AM (#34859560) Homepage Journal

      When I've downloaded custom ROMs for my phones in the last few years (which are legal when it comes to Android at least), they are often hosted on RapidShare.

      I'm with AC on this one.

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      My last job, we were regularly sending several gigabytes of HD video between London and Detroit. We didn't actually use Rapidshare for this, but we could have done (We used dropbox because it was more convenient). There would have been about 5 people with access to those files and, no offense intended, but we certainly wouldn't have told you.

      It's possible that most users are doing pretty much the same thing. Legitimate:illegitimate ration is going to be near imposible to judge here.
      • by xaxa (988988) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @06:23AM (#34859656)

        I expect RapidShare are carefully selecting their statistic. For instance, the ratio of legal:illegal uploads might be very favourable to them, while the ratio for downloads isn't.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          I suspect the statistic is even simpler, what they receive takedown requests for they count as illegal and everything else is by default assumed legal. I doubt RapidShare would permit anyone to rifle through a representative selection and try to determine a real percentage, after all it's a private sharing service and they have no business trying to open them.

      • by bjourne (1034822)
        Pirates who upload content to rapidshare makes it publicaly available. You most certainly would not want to have your hd video published to the world.
    • by rts008 (812749)

      Isn't that just your perspective as it relates to USA laws and POV?

      I could claim jingoism and nationalistic viewpoints as strawmen, but why?

      Okay, I can accept your viewpoint that from a RIAA/MPAA perspective, but the fact that you can't accept any other POV, or Sovereign Nations POV/outlook, seems both contradictory and ludicrous at the same time.

    • by kiddailey (165202)

      As someone who manages a fairly large and growing database of user-created gaming content [mapraider.com] and visits Rapidshare, Megaupload, et al. regularly to grab recent releases, I can assure you that there are quite a few GBs of perfectly legitimate content on those file hosting sites. ... at least, until the files get deleted due to download inactivity :/

      There. Now you've heard about many people using it for legal means.

      • Journalists for smaller publications also use it. Videos and large image archives (of an event, for example) that are difficult to send as email attachments tend to be on RapidShare and Box.net.

        I loathe both as a result, as there is a tendency for the people who use it to be rather non-technical, so when I get a link from RapidShare forwarded to me from a publisher saying "I can't get this to work", it's usually some kind of oddball strange error in filetype or zero byte files all neatly named in a zip. I

    • by Weezul (52464) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @06:58AM (#34859832)

      That says more about you than about rapid share.

      Are you old enough that you've seen ftp used for non-piracy purposes? Does that means we should place a tax on ftp requests that lines the pockets of the MafiAA?

      There is a younger variation on RapidShare called DropBox which provide better backup & syncing functionality, but it's not as well suited for just sending a file. You better believe DropBox gets used for piracy though too. Does that mean file syncing services should be illegal?

      RapidShare exists primarily because email doesn't transport large files. You cannot expect a client to install skype, gtalk, etc. In fact, you don't want all your client's on your IMs, given how easily one can offend older people on IM. Ditto for firewalls, NATs, sshd, etc. RapidShare URLs just works.

      RapidShare also gets used by people trying to save bandwidth, like software developers distributing shareware & crippleware, etc. BitTorrent hasn't exactly been a bandwidth panacea for everyone, plus not everyone understands it.

      If you ever left your IT bubble, you'd realize there is a whole world of small business out there that ravenously consumes simple, cheap, and fast solutions to simple problems. RapidShare has hit back hard for defamation partially because that core user base can have fairly stringent sensibilities.

      • Have you not heard? "Sharing" is a bad thing. If the website were called, "rapidfiletransfer," maybe they wouldn't be facing these sorts of accusations...
        • Sh-Sh-Sh-Share Share the Share is the scare! The **AA loves to say that sharin' ain't fair.

          Did you hear the news? No? It was of a certain ... economical distribution variety.

          Sh-sh-Share Share, the Share is the Scare!

        • by iammani (1392285)

          I knew it, that is why Windows calls it Folder Sharing. Windows is EVIL! I cant wait for RIAA to sue microsoft.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)
      You could monitor incoming traffic to identify the referrer. It's not perfect but it is quite possible to know if a file is pirated if the link came from a forum with the thread title "Britney Spears - Greatest Hits" even if the files are in a password protected RAR file. No opening required.
      • by delinear (991444)

        You could monitor incoming traffic to identify the referrer. It's not perfect but it is quite possible to know if a file is pirated if the link came from a forum with the thread title "Britney Spears - Greatest Hits" even if the files are in a password protected RAR file. No opening required.

        • Trivial to defeat - the referrer just bounces all links via an interim "safe" page, or just point blank doesn't send a referer [sic] header with the request. You could refuse all users that don't come with a referer if you don't mind losing some legitimate traffic, but then the site just puts the links on a "safe" site and links to that (pretty soon RS would see all sites as unsafe) or they use a URL shortener, or then send the links via email.>/li>
        • Costly - you will get false positives. The link to
    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      Furthermore, if they never open up the files put on their servers, how the hell would they know whether there's copyright infringement going on in the first place?

      They don't. I'm sure they never said that they could. Can GMail/Yahoo/Hotmail... all guarantee that their services aren't used to transfer files in violation of copyright? Can AOL? The post office?

      What they're saying is that they do not take any interest in what is being transferred. They're not like eBay, taking a cut of any transaction, they

    • I used Rapidshare for a perfectly legitimate reason recently. I was discussing a topic in a forum that doesn't allow arbitrary file uploads. I wanted to post a schematic diagram, that I drew from scratch. The forum post contains a link to a Rapidshare upload. The upload is a zip archive containing a PDF schematic and a bunch of supporting data sheets - it wasn't just a .jpg, which is why I couldn't include it in the forum directly. This is a nice solution, as I don't have to maintain a dedicated server
    • by DamonHD (794830)

      I think I've had one custom-drawn .ico file sent to me on RapidShare recently, so that was about 300 bytes of legitimate non-infringing content that I can vouch for!

      All the time I see new links c/o Google Alerts for ripped-off copies of the TV work of a member of my family, so much so that if I see a URL fragment containing one of those as I open my alert mail I know that it's almost always going to be such. Not a force for good IMHO.

      Rgds

      Damon

    • by sjames (1099)

      You are far more likely to hear of an illegal use than a legal one.

  • More harm than good? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rts008 (812749) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @05:48AM (#34859470) Journal

    While I support the original intent of both copyright and patent laws, I also think both have exceeded their bounds, and need reform.
    The original intent was to BOTH foster creativity and innovation while protecting both, it has currently devolved into protecting/fostering those with the most money.
    Major reform is needed.
    One thing I learned from my GrandDad[among many, numerous things], was that only stagnant water breeds mosquitoes. Think about the concept seriously for a moment, it is enlightening.

    Maybe it seems new to you all, but it's a culmination of 100 year old insight and wisdom to me.
    Sonny Bono/Disney should have been stopped in retrospect, but that's how hindsight seems to work!

    • Playing devil's advocate here, but here goes:

      If all of that stuff is so stagnant, why are you bothered about the copyright lease being so long? Look for cheap or free indie media.

      • by CitizenCain (1209428) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @06:34AM (#34859732)

        If all of that stuff is so stagnant, why are you bothered about the copyright lease being so long? Look for cheap or free indie media.

        You're missing the point of that adage. The mosquitoes don't stay in the stagnant pool of water once they've bred. They fly off and bite anyone they can find.

        Likewise, absurd lease lengths on copyrights don't just effect the works the protect, but impact the entire media realm. Why bother funding new, creative media when you get the copyright on Mickey Mouse extended for another 90 years and keep milking that cow? Or, for that matter, why bother creating anything at all, when you can become a patent troll and makes tens of millions of dollars by suing other people for bothering to create something. (And so on.)

        • You're missing the point of that adage. The mosquitoes don't stay in the stagnant pool of water once they've bred. They fly off and bite anyone they can find.

          Ah, we don't have mosquitoes here so I don't really think of them as a big deal. I've only ever seen them in movies :P

          Our midges [wisegeek.com] tend to stay in the vicinity of the stagnant water rather than roaming.

      • by devent (1627873)

        Such thing as "free indie media" doesn't exists. If you have an internet radio you have to pay royalties, if you have a bar and play music you have to pay, in Germany everyone is paying a royalty on CDs, DVDs, flash drivers, hard disks. The "Content Industry" have such power that they lobbied every government that if you play music you have to pay royalties to them even if you don't play any music owned by them. Either you pay the royalties or you are at a very great risk of being sued to death.

        Thanks to su

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Indeed. There was an article in the local paper last year about a bar owner here who hired folk singers. Folk songs are old, public domain music; no copyrights apply. Yet ASCAP insisted on royalties, he refused, and the litigation put him out of business.

      • by rts008 (812749)

        Well, maybe something got in the translation, or you cherry-picked a plausible mis-translation, but I will play along!)

        If all of that stuff is so stagnant, why are you bothered about the copyright lease being so long?

        You missed the whole point here. I apologize profoundly if my intended concept was so ineptly stated. My purpose was to allude to the concept that life, and thus living life was dynamic, and we have to adapt as a species to survive. We have provided a lot of evidence that we are adaptable, dynamically as a species.

        As a side note regarding IP[Intellectual Property/Imaginative Property]:
        My p

        • The mosquito illustration was probably throwing people off. I usually try to avoid such illustrations because you're going to get people that take it too far or argue about unimportant points, because the comparison is going to fail if it is taken to far, and it becomes a distraction.

          I don't think it's anarchist to suggest reform, that would be a silly accusation to worry about.

          Copyright law is very excessive right now, especially when you have a broadly interpreted meaning of "limited", which is functiona

        • Yeah, the analogy threw me off a little, sorry. I generally agree with your point, but it also reminded me of those who think that the current music and film industry is too full of crap anyway, and made me wonder if this group intersects highly with the group who want to shorten copyright terms, which wouldn't make that much sense.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Major reform is needed. One thing I learned from my GrandDad[among many, numerous things], was that only stagnant water breeds mosquitoes. Think about the concept seriously for a moment, it is enlightening.

      The trouble if you apply that logic is that it cuts both ways. Long standing rights and principles can be cut down just as easily as old relics that have lost their purpose and meaning. And the answer depends extremely on who you ask, others would say copyrights and patents are more important now than ever in the "information economy". Some would say the second amendment is an old relic from the days of the minutemen, others think it's a vital civil right today. It's only an argument that appeal to people t

  • Rapidshare says they don't open or inspect the files uploaded by its users

    They list a number of 'legitimate' uses

    They say copyrighted files do get uploaded

    But they say these files are in a minority compared with the legitimate uses

    How do they know, without having inspected the files?

  • *.R00 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by metalmaster (1005171) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @05:51AM (#34859482)
    I've pondered on this since the first story broke, but can a company be liable for hosting partial files? A lot of the links i see for rapidshare are partial archives. By themselves they do no harm
    • by Tim C (15259)

      Well, copyright prevents you from sharing a chapter of a book just as it does the entire book, so I suspect the same principle would apply to partial archive files.

      • by mapkinase (958129)

        You can read the chapter without reading the rest of the book. Archive bits, on the other hand, are useless without a complete set.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)
          This depends on the content. If the book is stored in multiple chapters and spread over 3 RAR files you most definitely can extract some of the chapters even if you only have the middle RAR file at your disposal. If the file is MPEG video then you can extract part of the video and play it too. You'll have audio sync issues and inability to seek but hey you have some content to work with.
  • by Haedrian (1676506) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @05:51AM (#34859486)

    Everything can be used for "Piracy".

    Before we had tapes, then Floppies, then CDs, then P2P and websites...

    I can send illegal files by email, by handing them over on a thumb drive...

    Its easier if we just add "Everything" to the list of Piracy and let it be done.

    • by Drethon (1445051) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:10AM (#34859918)
      Yeah, the open pandora gaming system http://www.openpandora.org/ [openpandora.org] got blocked on e-bay for a while as a pirate system that could play imports. After some discussion the pandora people were able to get e-bay to understand it is simply a tiny linux laptop and has little more/less capability than any other computer being sold on e-bay...
      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Is that thing actually getting sold finally? I've seen the release date pushed back over and over again and I'm reluctant to spend money on what might just be an elaborate scam.

        • by Drethon (1445051)
          Check out pandorapress.net. The device is out of its latest crysis and if nothing else happen mass production is a go.

          The slightly longer story is they finished the cases last spring with production beginning in the summer but the nubs were found to be defective. After a few months of nub redesign production has started back up. ~1500 have been shipped and they are completing and shipping about 300-500 a week now.

          If you are concerned I would probably monitor for a week or two and if nothing happens t
    • Everything can be used for "Piracy"....

      Its easier if we just add "Everything" to the list of Piracy and let it be done.

      That's EXACTLY what the copyright cartels are trying to do.

  • RapidShare (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    RapidShare has saved my bacon more than once when my radio station server was borked and I couldn't ftp to it, so I uploaded my news stories to RapidShare and the news director could get my stories before the deadline for final editing (and I got to be the tech hero).

    I've also used it for sharing my personal files, photos, video, etc. with friends all over the world.

    RapidShare is a great service for legitimate uses.

    • FTP down, nonexistent or blocked in a client's building. You need to transfer a few hundred megs of data. Rapidshare to the rescue.

      • by jovius (974690)
        I read that you were locked in a client's building. I can confirm that at least your data is getting out .
  • While it may now offer a function to search, other sites do. For example 4chan's automated scraper that catches rs links posted all over it and offers them for search via /rs/. There are other less legit sources for rapidshare searching but why even bother. There are way more convenient ways to find specific data.
  • Missing the point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ProbablyJoe (1914672) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @06:07AM (#34859600)

    Sure, RapidShare is used a lot for copyrighted material, but it's not as if it's their doing. On the contrary, they seem to make a lot of effort to remove copyrighted material - at least a lot of the links I see are deleted. Whether or not this is them specifically searching for it, or it being reported, I have no idea.

    What next? FTP is used for uploading copyrighted material too. What an evil protocol.

    Slashdot loves car analogies right? Clearly cars that can drive over the speed limit are also to blame for speeding.

  • Didn't even know they had any piracy on there. Maybe the porn is meant to distract people from noticing?

  • If Rapidshare doesn't inspect its users' uploads, how do they know that only a minority of uploads are pirate? Genuinely stumped for a good hypothesis here, just trawling the web for Rapidshare links and classifying them doesn't strike me as an easy thing to automate.

  • by EnsilZah (575600) <.moc.liamG. .ta. .haZlisnE.> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @07:18AM (#34859944)

    I guess their data is just out of date.
    Maybe a year ago you could have seen a lot of traffic on Rapidshare, but slow speeds, low filesize limits and long wait times have made Rapidshare go the way of MySpace.
    Now you have a completely different set of players, there's Hotfile, Fileserve, Netload, Filesonic, Depositfiles, and a whole bunch of others.
    If you go to a site that posts such links you'd be hard pressed to find one Rapidshare link in fifty.

    And I bet the **AAs are just about getting ready to do something about Rapidshare.

  • When someone calls his favorite episode of House HS1E8.rar and uploads it with a password to rapidshare, he is not breaking any laws. He just wants to be able to access it from everywhere he goes using whatever device with whatever limited memory.

    The laws could be broken when he or someone else who deciphered a very cryptic name of the file and a sophisticated password ("monkey") posts a link on his blog:

    Check out my favourite episode of House (Season 1, episode 8): Download here [rapidshare.com]. Use the usual pass, guys.

    T

  • Rapidshare does remove content that has been flagged as illegal. How does it find out? It gets reported, or the copyright holder files a complaint with them (with the offending links in question, obviously). They have never condoned piracy, and always take it seriously. Is it convenient to upload files? Sure, I'll give you that. Is it harder to upload illegal files than legal ones? Unlikely. They can't comb through all their uploaded files manually; that's just silly. Filenames would be useless too. Even if
  • From TFA:

    RapidShare acknowledged that copyrighted files do get uploaded to its site, however 'these users are in the absolute minority compared with those who use our services to pursue perfectly legitimate interests.'

    What are "copyrighted files"? Everything created recently, i.e. before 70 years after the death of the author, IS copyrighted... unless explicitly being put in the public domain by its author. Including your favorite Linux distro, and files released under CC and similar licenses. Including t

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