Double Blow Dealt Against Rapidshare
GEMA, the German society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction rights, obtains interim injunctions against the operators of the services www.rapidshare.de and www.rapidshare.com
GEMA has been granted interim injunctions by the Cologne Regional Court against the operators of the services www.rapidshare.de and www.rapidshare.com for the illegal exploitation of works from the GEMA repertoire which they have incorporated in their offers. The services in question are so-called "sharehosters." Their business model is based on the idea of providing memory capacity for users to feed in whatever contents they like and make these publicly accessible to other users.
While it is possible for the users to store the contents free of charge, RapidShare charges a monthly fee for calling up contents in a convenient, trouble-free manner from its memory via the "Premium-Download". The www.rapidshare.de service in particular had at times sought to attract customers by advertising that it had 15 million files available for downloading. A license to do this, however, had never been obtained from GEMA.
Hitherto, RapidShare had always sought to evade all legal responsibility by maintaining that they had no knowledge of the contents the users had stored and that they were not able to control these either.
The injunctions now granted by the Cologne Court, on the other hand, are quite unambiguous: "the fact that the service operator itself does not put in the contents, but these are uploaded by users" does not legally alter the fact that the service operators are liable for any infringement of copyright arising from this service.
GEMA Chief Executive Officer Dr. Harald Heker comments: "These rulings will also be of major significance when it comes to dealing with Web 2.0 services like YouTube and MySpace in future. They show that the mere shifting of the act of use onto the user and the alleged non-controllability of the contents do not release the service operator from its responsibility under copyright law for the contents it makes available on its website for downloading."
In Germany, GEMA administrates the copyrights of more than 60,000 members (composers, lyricists and music publishers) and those of more than 1 million rights owners from all over the world. With earnings of EUR 865 million (for the financial year 2006), it is one of the world's largest authors' societies for works of music.
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