Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Six global publishers win ruling in German court against Rapidshare; 148 works cited in lawsuit

A group of six major publishers won an injunction against Rapidshare, the Swiss-based file sharing service. The group that included McGraw-Hill, Elsevier Inc., and John Wiley & Sons, got a Hamburg, Germany court to issue the injunction which ordered Rapidshare to implement measures to prevent illegal file sharing of the 148 copyright-protected works cited in the lawsuit, which was filed on February 4, 2010.

"After spending years of my life writing and refining my book, it is truly demoralizing to see it up on an Internet share site free for download within days of publication. Companies like Rapidshare derive substantial profit by facilitating the theft of the work of others, adding no value to the creative process and providing no compensation to the creators," said Jonathan Harbour, an author and college professor whose book on gaming was among those cited, in a statement.

"This ruling is an important step forward. Not only does it affirm that file-sharing copyrighted content without permission is against the law, but it attaches a hefty financial punishment to the host, in this case Rapidshare, for noncompliance. Consider this a shot across the bow for others who attempt to profit from the theft of copyrighted works online," said Tom Allen, CEO of the Association of American Publishers.

The lawsuit was filed by GEMA, a German copyright group. The suit was filed on February 4th, and the judgement orders Rapidshare to make sure book titles named in the lawsuit are no longer available for sharing on their system.

Last summer another judgement was issued by a regional court in Hamburg to ban some 5,000 music tracks from being shared. Again, that lawsuit was filed by GEMA. At the time Bobby Chang, Rapidshare's COO, said: “We do not consider the court’s decision to be a breakthrough. As other proceedings in similar disputes with GEMA have shown, there is considerable disparity amongst the individual courts in some cases.”