RapidShare, the world?s biggest "1-Click Webhoster", was held responsible for copyright violations, according to a ruling issued by D?sseldorf Regional Court.
RapidShare offers its users the possibility to save any contents - including large volumes of music titles - anonymously under the service and to call them up without restriction. Up to now, RapidShare had claimed that only the relevant users could be held responsible for the illegal contents.
This view has now been rejected by Dusseldorf Regional Court. Like Cologne and Munich Regional Courts before, D?sseldorf Regional Court is also imposing extensive mandatory action on the service operators. Under the present ruling, RapidShare is required to "also take such measures as involve the risk of its business model becoming much less attractive or even having to be discontinued entirely". As grounds for its decision, the Court submitted in particular that the service was "not used primarily for legal activities", was "particularly well suited" for the distribution of contents protected by copyright and that specifically for this reason it would gain a financial advantage "on a not insignificant scale".
The case was brought in the German court by GEMA, the German version of RIAA.
Dr. Harald Heker, Chief Executive Officer of GEMA, commented: "This decision marks a milestone in the fight against illegal usage of our repertoire. It sends out a clear signal that any services, which derive financial benefit from unlawful uses of our works, will have to take extensive measures to protect the rights owners and cannot simply evade liability by referring to the action of individual users. With this landmark decision, the way has been paved for instituting proceedings against other similar services".
For now, both Rapidshare.com and Repidshare.de web sites are online and opearte normaly. The company will most likely
appeal against the decision of the Dusseldorf court.