German Supreme Court Confirms RapidShare Must Police The Internet And Restrict Anonymous Use

from the good-luck-with-that dept

A post on TorrentFreak updates us on the continuing saga of the file-hosting site RapidShare. The Supreme Court in Germany has apparently confirmed a regional High Court decision that had itself confirmed two earlier verdicts concerning the Swiss company:

The court clarified that RapidShare has no obligation to proactively monitor files that are uploaded by its users. However, the company is required to monitor external sites that link to copyrighted files on RapidShare, and ensure these files become inaccessible to the public.

In addition, the ruling noted that when these measures prove not to be effective enough, the file-hosting site should restrict the opportunity for people to use the site anonymously. RapidShare already logs IP-addresses but to decrease anonymity customers may also have to show proof of identity.

Both of these decisions are highly problematic. It shouldn’t be RapidShare’s responsibility to ferret out unauthorized copies around the world. And since it’s clearly impossible for RapidShare to monitor everything online (that’s the NSA’s job…), the court presumably expects it to monitor only some of it: the question then becomes: How much? The risk is that the company could find itself being sued by copyright companies for not doing “enough.” The second requirement is worrying because it could have ramifications for German whistle-blowers, say, who will be unable to store their documents safely on file-hosting sites like RapidShare. That’s because the current decision will be applied much more widely than to just RapidShare, as TorrentFreak notes:

It is expected that the Supreme Court decision will have massive implications. Not only for RapidShare, but also for many other file-hosting services that operate in Germany. More on what will change exactly for RapidShare and its users will become apparent when the full verdict is released a few weeks from now.

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Comments on “German Supreme Court Confirms RapidShare Must Police The Internet And Restrict Anonymous Use”

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64 Comments
That One Guysays:

Disappointing, but not surprising

Given this is the same country that gave GEMA pretty much free reign to collect fees to their (black)heart’s content, because figuring out what is and is not GEMA signed music and only charging fees for stuff they actually have the rights to would ‘just be too much work’, it’s pretty obvious the music industry in germany has made the right ‘donations’ to ensure that any ruling relating to music, or potentially affecting the music biz, will go their way.

Anonymoussays:

“However, the company is required to monitor external sites that link to copyrighted files on RapidShare, and ensure these files become inaccessible to the public.”

WTF? RapidShare has to police the whole internet? Bwaahaha! The Supreme Court in Germany brings ignorance to a whole new, unmeasurable, level. Ignorance times infinity, squared.

Way to be 100% tech illiterate, judges. Wear it like a badge of honor. You deserve it.

Anonymoussays:

Re:

The RIAA and their incestuous relatives can’t seem to be anything more than a waste of money. Hell, according to their data, the filehosts they’re going after aren’t even the biggest offenders. Megaupload was number 7; Filesonic was number 1. They’ve made it clear that their only interest is in going after easy targets they think won’t fight back – except that they fucked up so badly, they managed to get people to feel sorry for Kim Dotcom, and they think Rapidshare is this gigantic piracy-facilitating bogeyman that lives under the bed.

It’s a sad state of affairs when people are forced to fund the salaries of a select privileged few, whose sole job is to be as incompetent as possible at the one task they’re assigned.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Jurisdiction

Only if the violate someone’s copyright by doing so.

We might be on to something here. The copyright to Mein Kampf should retroactively be granted to Hitler’s closest still-living relatives, then we can jail neo-Nazis indefinitely for committing the heinous action of violating the Hitler estate’s intellectual property rights.

OldGeezersays:

Re: Re: Jurisdiction

The justification the US used in claiming the right to shut down Megaupload was that they had servers on US soil in Virginia. I’m sure that any other foreign company has removed any ties like that by now. Probably the reason that Uploaded.net only blocked the US for a few weeks and then came back. Just long enough to move anything they had here out. Looks like just doing any business only available in Germany is enough for them.

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

As I suggested over on TorrentFreak when I read this before…
Shall we just give GEMA what they want and geoblock all of Germany and stop the stupidity?
I am sure that the citizens of Germany will have no problem being cut off from the world, GEMA offers them so much more afterall.
Then this problem caused by Germany can be solved by Germans.

Maybe all of the German people demanding the government reform its insane laws will drown out the money from lobbyists. Or they can just start recalling and replacing them with people who aren’t susceptible to the BS the cartels spew.

______
Google did this to the newspapers who demanded cash for them “stealing” readers… and then they came running back demanding to be relisted in the engine when they figured out it was better to have Google offering snippets.

Once the leaders in Germany see exactly how much GEMA has mislead them, and how pissed off the people are… they might change their tune.

Anonymoussays:

This ruling is so out of touch with reality, I don’t know where to begin with…

“However, the company is required to monitor external sites that link to copyrighted files on RapidShare, and ensure these files become inaccessible to the public.”

So… Rapidshare is required to become Google? What other way do you have to find out who links to a file than to scan the whole web?
And clearly Rapidshare has to have prior knowledge about the copyright-nature of a file before scanning the web for links referring to it.
And if it is a copyrighted file, doesn’t Rapidshare take it offline anyway (when requested to do so)?
And if it is linked to by an external site, how should Rapidshare know if the site has any rights on that file or not?

“In addition, the ruling noted that when these measures prove not to be effective enough, the file-hosting site should restrict the opportunity for people to use the site anonymously. RapidShare already logs IP-addresses but to decrease anonymity customers may also have to show proof of identity.”

If you have an account on Rapidshare your Identity is already known – at least there is the money-trail that can be followed. Would this be “proof of identity” enough, or would they require… what? A trip to Switzerland to confirm that you are Hugh?

kitsune361says:

Re:

So, it sounds like they’ll have to ban all non-paying users connecting from Germany and a lot more people will use services like anomym.to to obfuscate what site they’re coming in from.

Rapidshare is used globally; how much of their income comes from Germany? Maybe they should just cut their losses, pull all their local offices and servers out of Germany. Then redirect all incoming German traffic to a page explaining the ruling and what the people of Germany should do about (vote Pirate, change the laws). Make a stink about it, and make sure to emphasize how “business unfriendly” this move is and how Germany is only hurting itself by driving commerce out of their country.

PaulTsays:

“The court clarified that RapidShare has no obligation to proactively monitor files that are uploaded by its users. However, the company is required to monitor external sites that link to copyrighted files on RapidShare, and ensure these files become inaccessible to the public.”

How in hell do these make sense together? They have no obligation to monitor their own systems, but it has the obligation to monitor everybody else’s? What?

Anonymoussays:

Re:

Easy. Just make it sure the “referer” header must be one of their own file management pages.

We could have made download client that sproof that header, but because the court just require RapidShare do the monitoring, wicked users using other method to workaround the restriction is technically not their concern. (There’re some countries require IP logging, but none of them will sue the server admin for not blocking people who sproof their IP / access the website through VPN)

Violatedsays:

Unsafe

This is indeed a bad ruling bordering on insanity.

First is that rights holders have always been charged to police their own creations when no one but them can know what media is authorised and what is not. So RapidShare can now be sued for blocking authorised media and sued for not blocking unauthorised media. All for lacking telepathic abilities to know what others are thinking.

This problem is escalated because now all media is born under copyright if it wants to be or not. Before that rapist law change all media wanting copyright had to bare a clear copyright status.

As to external sites then they sure have a problem there when while RapidShare gets a referrer note when people click links to them this is fully lost if people copy and paste the address instead. So sites can pass into the unknown by making links unclickable. RapidShare can then only say many people like a file without knowing if the link has been made public as opposed to authorised family and friends.

Then they sure can’t police the entire Internet along with all links to them. Due to an impossible position then RapidShare should consider blocking Germany. That would well highlight how unsafe a DMCA/EUCD safe harbour company actually is these days.

Anonymoussays:

Interesting.

Some sites have long had a policy of coding links, making them unclickable. Rapidshare will have to develop electronic mindreading to learn where those incoming have arrived from.

I am not sure it is still up but the RIAA Radar site that attempted to identify all copyright held music had one heck of a time identifying some of the versions of songs as to whether they were under corporate copyright or not.

Somehow I doubt GEMA will accept the same accuracy now demonstrated by DMCA take downs which have been given over to bots to generate. I would imagine they will be looking for 100% accuracy.

PaulTsays:

Re:

If I put my tin foil hat on for a moment, it’s quite possible that they literally don’t care about accuracy. They simply want to be paid for 100% of all files transferred, regardless of who actually owns them.

It’s a nice scam. They don’t have to do any of the work, they force the costs and risks on to a 3rd party and most users who aren’t as clued up as the average reader here (i.e. most of them) will blame Rapidshare for any problems they experience, not GEMA.

It’s a shame that courts have been fooled into legalising this particular extortion racket, but hopefully other solutions will present themselves before the German music industry is further destroyed by GEMA.

out_of_the_bluesays:

Re: Re: @ "It's a nice scam. They don't have to do any of the work, they force the costs and risks on to a 3rd party"

That’s EXACTLY what Rapidshare does! It “monetizes” already made products of infringed content, almost no costs except a little administering and bandwidth. — But of course YOU twist it entirely backwards to where not the producers of content but Rapidshare is the one burdened!

Rikuosays:

Re: Re: Re: @ "It's a nice scam. They don't have to do any of the work, they force the costs and risks on to a 3rd party"

Yeah, I’m sure scanning every external site is an easy task to do, we’ll ask the world’s biggest search engine how far they’ve gotten. Hey! Google! How much of the internet have you indexed? What? Only 0.004% or some other ridiculously low number like that?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: @ "It's a nice scam. They don't have to do any of the work, they force the costs and risks on to a 3rd party"

What content does GEMA produce exactly? It seems like you live in some kind of fairy land where only content producers have copyrights. In the real world copyrights for most content that’s not self-published (which you’re apparently against given how vehemently you oppose any system that would be conducive to it) is own by a 3rd party. If we lived in your fairy land where copyrights on non-transferable then at least your point wouldn’t be so far off the mark as to be laughable.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: @ "It's a nice scam. They don't have to do any of the work, they force the costs and risks on to a 3rd party"

“It “monetizes” already made products of infringed content”

It also monetizes LEGAL content. Therefore, you are lying, yet again.

I know that accepting that Rapidshare, MegaUpload, etc. also supply legal content within 100% adherence to the law ruins your all-or-nothing simplistic fantasy, but that’s reality for you.

It’s amazing how you’ll defend a criminal scam (GEMA provably claim money for content they don’t own any rights to, for a start) with the same arguments you use to try and shut down a service with perfectly legitimate uses.

letherialsays:

When money, government, and ignorance collide, the resulting wreckage is this kind of insanity. It is impossible for rapid share to follow this, and it is impossible for the governments to enforce this. The ‘copyright companys’ will not gain either as its simply not going to have any effect on what they are trying to stop.

All that is gained here is humiliation for them and amusement for us, with a few rich lawyers sprinkled on top.

Ninjasays:

Ah Germany. It seems you have learned neither from your recent history nor from your past. Rapidshare should simply say FUCK YOU and ignore any court orders. It’s Swiss. Just close their representation in Germany and it’s good enough. Or go the Youtube route and block Germany out of almost everything.

As for the past history are they really going to ‘forbid’ anonymity? Is the IV Reich building?

out_of_the_bluesays:

IF you're not a pirate, it's a GOOD RULING!

Why would you even care what some foreign corporation is required to do, unless it affects you by making pirating a bit harder? HMM?

Anyhoo, I’ve been proven right about the law again, and my specific prediction of way back is now fulfilled. Rapidshare is hollowed out and hampered, and YES, I’m glad of it! They have NO PRODUCT EXCEPT INFRINGED CONTENT. Total grifters. — Oh, I’m still disappointed in the no active policing part, but this is good enough, perhaps even the right balance, so long as obvious grifting by infringement is prevented.


What are you stoopid pirates doing here? Mike supports copyright!

Rikuosays:

Re: IF you're not a pirate, it's a GOOD RULING!

OOTB – use what passes for grey matter between your ears and think for a few minutes. Then explain to us here how in the hell Rapidshare is supposed to POLICE THE ENTIRE FRIGGIN’ INTERNET for links? Even if RS are somehow able to find all links to RS…HOW DO THEY KNOW THOSE LINKS ARE FOR INFRINGING MATERIAL?

Internet Zen Mastersays:

Re: Re: IF you're not a pirate, it's a GOOD RULING!

They call up the NSA and ask them to help. Obviously.

As for finding out what’s at the end of the links to RS (i.e. the material being downloaded), maybe they download the content and open it for themselves to check and see? (wouldn’t put it past Rapidshare at this point.)

PaulTsays:

Re: IF you're not a pirate, it's a GOOD RULING!

“They have NO PRODUCT EXCEPT INFRINGED CONTENT.”

It doesn’t matter how often you repeat this, it’s still an outright lie.

Plus, you’re wrong either way. Even if your fallacy was true and not spewed out like a toddler having a tantrum, it still wouldn’t explain why Rapdishare would be responsible for links on other peoples’ websites.

Another day, another lying screed from ootb.

Rikuosays:

Re: IF you're not a pirate, it's a GOOD RULING!

“They have NO PRODUCT EXCEPT INFRINGED CONTENT.”

How in the hell can you make this declaration? Do you have access to RS servers and hard drives? Have you checked every single file as to whether or not they have permission to be there? If so, why don’t you hire *cough whore *cough yourself out to the copyright industries, since you seem to be able to do what no-one else has been able to do before, and what is supposed to be against all laws of physics?

Anonymoussays:

Re: IF you're not a pirate, it's a GOOD RULING!

You don’t see why anyone would care about a file hosting service being forced to deanonymize thier traffic? What happened to the ‘rah rah, corporate spying is double plus bad!ONEone’ little boy blue that shows up in every NSA thread to insist the true threat is the people the NSA is bullying?

GEMA outsources their job by judicial fiat and you claim the people being grifted are not the ones who now shoulder their obligations but a third party that’s tangentially involved. Stay classy little boy blue.

S. T. Stonesays:

Re: IF you're not a pirate, it's a GOOD RULING!

Why would you even care what some foreign corporation is required to do, unless it affects you by making pirating a bit harder?

Some people want to keep our data overseas and out of the hands of the NSA. If a foreign court can essentially make file lockers such as Rapidshare illegal or force such services to shut down by making the cost to run them too high to make it worthwhile, where does that leave the people who used Rapidshare for storing legal content?

You seem to misunderstand the whole idea behind file lockers. People use file locker services to store and share data. Whether they own the rights to distribute that data should matter to the service provider only if it receives a legitimate takedown notice.

Rapidshare staff members can make educated guesses as to whether content uploaded to its service infringes upon copyrights. They can even set up some form of content-matching (e.g. MD5 hash matching) to prevent people from uploading infringing copies. But they can?t know with 100% certainty that any given data infringes upon someone?s copyright until the copyright holder comes forward (at which point Rapidshare staff can set up content blocks and take down the offending content with 100% certainty).

All of that ties into two separate points:

1.) A service provider cannot know beforehand with absolute certainty whether a specific piece of data uploaded to its service infringes upon an existing copyright. YouTube made that point damn clear when it proved that Viacom had sued YouTube over content that Viacom employees had uploaded. If Viacom couldn?t get its facts together about what content infringed upon its copyrights and what content didn?t, how can we expect YouTube to do the same thing when it has to police millions of hours of videos per day?

2.) A service provider that provides a legal service and advertises itself as a legal service generally shouldn?t bear the responsibility of what its users do with the service. The safe harbor provisions of the CDA make that damn clear. We don?t hold Twitter responsible when some jackass makes bomb threat jokes. We don?t hold Facebook responsible for allowing hatemongers to spread their vile messages. Why should we hold Rapidshare and all of its bastard children to a different standard?

Corwinsays:

How to kill a service

Rapidshare AG has always bent over backwards to make authorities happy, so what. The Internet will have to get used to use Mediafire instead.

First there was Rapidshare, then Megaupload, then Rapidshare again. Then Mega appeared. Then, a rock-fuckingly stupid german court tells RS to make their service unusable. We the Internet, respond with a resounding silence because we’re too busy getting our files from the forty other services lined up to get raided as soon as authorities are done with the more visible ones…

… and after those we still have TOR, FreeNet, i2p, bittorrent, VPNs, namecoin, that JS/WebRTC file server, so, how about “fuck the laws forever, lulz, no data ever bit anyone anyway”.

Anonymoussays:

How to repair a doomed dam

A long, long time ago, in a Hollywoodland far, far away, a few clever people built a dam around a water-lake (aka movies, music, etc.).
Now, they had control over DISTRIBUTION and could charge people whatever they wanted. They made tons of money and even found out how to recycle the water they had already sold (by defining that they were rather in the renting-business…) to make more money out of it.
But then one day someone invented a powder (aka THE INTERNET) that would slowly but inevitably corrode the dam, creating holes from where the water would flow freely. People still bought (or better, rented) their water, but as more time passed, the more people begun to get their water from the new formed holes.
Alerted by this the clever people started to find ways to tamp the holes, but the corrosion process was unstopable. So they tried to keep people away from the new formed holes, by letting rabid dogs (aka laws) guard them. But, as new holes formed nearly on a daily basis, people just moved to the next hole.
The clever people also tried to invent their own powder (aka DRM), so that the water would be to viscous to flow through the new formed holes. But the original powder (aka the internet) was too strong and just filtered the new powder out of the water.
The clever people cried and screamed – and whenever they found a way to tamp a new formed hole they would declare it as a victory for justice, mankind and especially for the children. But while they tamped that hole, other holes kept forming…

The tale is not over yet, but a future without the dam seems inevitable…

Thinkersays:

Pity

There was interesting meeting ~7 years ago where even your truly was present. One of ideas was to build fiber between Finland and Germany while happily sidestepping normal Swedish/NSA spying of our communications.
It is cheap, help citizens in several countries to keep at least some of their sanity. Apparently neither of those countries involved cared about it.

You still can do it. We can still do it.

Pity that with power comes insanity, so maybe they prefer to feel ‘normal’.
/Sigh

Anonymoussays:

looks like rapidshare needs to take a leaf out of a couple of secure email companies and shut down! that would be the sensible choice, otherwise, they are going to be spending more money on doing the job of the Police, checking every upload and download to ensure it’s got ‘Mr Jones signature’ or whatever on it to authenticate it. this German court is about as clued up as my arse! what an absolutely friggin ridiculous ruling to make!
when i’ve said before about the way the Internet is going, i’ve been chastised. what is going on now and is happening more and more is censorship and restriction. and it’s all thanks to the US entertainment industries that got this selfish, self-centered ball rolling! now it is on the move, it will get quicker and quicker until it cant be stopped. the Internet will then die, killed off by those who cant bear to think that there is available to everyone, the greatest information exchange mechanism every invented! i hope in a few years time, those responsible are sat in front of a court and made to suffer as they are making people suffer now! and all because of greed and control!

Anonymoussays:

The court clarified that RapidShare has no obligation to proactively monitor files that are uploaded by its users. However, the company is required to monitor external sites that link to copyrighted files on RapidShare, and ensure these files become inaccessible to the public.

Translation: Oh, no, no, no! You don’t have to know anything about your own site. You just have to know everything about every other site. See how much easier that is?

horse with no namesays:

not hard at all

I don’t get the argument here at all.

As a site operator, Rapidshare can easily get a list of pages that have referred traffic to their site, and in turn, can look at the nature of those pages. Take the top 500 pages each day, look at the content, and make a decision, copyright or not.

They don’t have to actually go out and index every page on the net – the information of who is linking to them is handed to them on every click.

Rapidshare knows what files are getting accessed and downloaded on their site. They can very easily move to block things like known pirate movie trading sites / chat boards, and they can look at the referring pages and see what is being offered.

The argument that they can’t do it is just weak.

Anonymoussays:

Re: not hard at all

So what do you call it when site-blocking programs can’t even block the right sites that they’re meant to block, instead taking down lots of other innocent sites with them?

Even this wouldn’t stop anyone. Replace “http” with “hxxp” it’s no longer a link.

Never mind how nobody uses Rapidshare. Never mind how looking at a file name is still no guarantee of what the file actually contains.

Your arguments, as usual, are just weak.

And obviously Masnick’s blocks aren’t working on you.

Rikuosays:

Re:

Re-read the damn thing you quoted. “Rapidshare to monitor EVEYRTHING ONLINE”. That’s more than their own site. That’s the entire friggin’ Internet they’re now being told to monitor. The NSA is able to do that because over the years, they’ve installed special equipment at pretty much all the connection points, or at least the ones going into the US.
Rapidshare hasn’t. Rapidshare cannot monitor the entire Internet, it is physically impossible for them to do so.

Kevinsays:

Reversed Domino Effect

For every storage site that is shut down 10 more pop up within weeks. Ever since the kim dot com fiasco dozens of alternatives have risen. Eventually Governments will be pressured into spending the costs associated with shutting down such sites on things the people will consider more important.
That is the Government’s Achilles Heel. Start publicizing how much Governments are diverting funds from needy programs just to support a handful of Moguls. The people will howl.

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