German Court Orders Rapidshare to Filter Content

HAMBURG — A German court has found file-hosting service Rapidshare guilty of copyright violations and ordered the site to immediately filter its content.

German music royalties collection body GEMA asked that the site be prohibited from featuring some 5,000 tracks created by GEMA members, which the court estimated to be valued at $34 million.

According to The Register, the Regional Court in Hamburg also ruled that Rapidshare must delete any and all of those same tracks from its servers and take measures to prevent any further uploading of those same tracks by its users.

According to a statement released by GEMA, “The judgment states that the hosting service itself is now responsible for making sure that none of the music tracks concerned are distributed via its platform in the future. This means that the copyright holder is no longer required to perform the ongoing and complex checks.”

GEMA CEO Harald Heker celebrated the victory.

“The decision of the Hamburg Regional Court is a milestone in GEMA’s fight against the illegal use of musical works on the Internet,” said Heker, as reported by TorrentFreak. “We are confident that in this way we will be able to reduce the illegal use of the GEMA repertoire on the Internet to a negligible level.”

Rapidshare took a different view of the ruling and also said it will file an appeal.

“We do not consider the court’s decision to be a breakthrough,” said Rapidshare COO Bobby Chang. “As other proceedings in similar disputes with GEMA have shown, there is considerable disparity amongst the individual courts in some cases.”

Rapidshare hosts audio and video files; music and film organizations claim much of that content is pirated or illicit.