Despite a ruling in February by the highest European Court of Justice ruling that hosting sites can’t proactively filter copyrighted content as that would violate the privacy of users and hinder freedom of information, RapidShare has been ordered by a regional court in Germany to proactively filter the myriad of user files that are uploaded.
This higher regional court ruling of Hamburg is being pushed by the German music rights group, GEMA, and German book publishers, De Gruyter and Campus.
The entertainment industry appears to be dead set on making every file sharing web site phenom into an outright pirate haven.
Cloud-based file-sharing services like Rapidshare, Megaupload, and Megavideo have been under fire for years because of copyright infringing activity that occurs on their websites, but recently the level of scrutiny has increased to the point that site owners have decided to launch their own counter-campaign to inform people that their services are not the “piracy havens” that certain entertainment industry groups make them out to be.
Representatives of RapidShare have been proactive in changing this negative assessment, and they claim to have, for the past several years, made every effort to cooperate with the copyright holders and limit the copyright infringements.
“This defamation of RapidShare as a digital piracy site is absurd and we reserve the right to take legal action against MarkMonitor,” representatives of the company said 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.”
This ruling, however, forces file sharers like RapidShare to take responsibility for its users’ actions. This appears to be a direct attempt at getting RapidShare and similar services to become an online police force.
“Internet sites can no longer avoid their responsibilities, and profit from copyright infringing uploads of anonymous users,” said a chief executive of the German Booksellers Association (GBA) Alexander Skipis.
It seems that the members of the entertainment industry feel that it is up to them to decide how web masters run their sites.