Court Says RapidShare Not Required to Filter Uploads

Stephen Yagielowicz
CHAM — RapidShare AG has announced that it has won its appeal against Capelight Pictures in the Court of Appeals in Düsseldorf, Germany.

According to RapidShare, Capelight had previously obtained a preliminary injunction against the file hosting company in Düsseldorf's district court, preventing RapidShare from hosting certain movies its clients had uploaded and raising the specter of invasive content screening and approval methods.

The Appellate Court this week reversed the lower court's order, signaling a victory for the file hosting service, which some critics point to as a major contributor to Internet piracy, due to its allowance of easy, anonymous file uploading and sharing without any review of the material's content or copyright status.

"We are very happy about the judgment," RapidShare founder Christian Schmid stated. "The court has confirmed that RapidShare is not responsible for the contents of files uploaded by its users."

The Court of Appeals determined that since RapidShare does not control access to the files (which the user uploading the file can keep private or share at will), it is not liable for the distribution of those files.

The court also criticized proposed piracy mitigation mechanisms as being ineffective, further bolstering its reversal decision. For example, filename filters create excessive false positives, particularly since those who are uploading them often rename these files. Filtering based on file type is not effectively usable since the file type does not reflect the content's ownership; while proxy servers and shared IP addresses make such discrimination attempts over-broad.

For its part, RapidShare sees the move as a vindication of its operations and an acknowledgement of the service's legitimate uses, such as creating online data backups.

"The judgment shows that attempts to denounce our business model as illegal will not be successful in the long run," Schmid added. "With its [one]-click-filehosting model, RapidShare responds to legitimate interests of its users and will continue to do so in the future."