Rapidshare Ordered To Transfer $34 Million To German Record Industry

The file-sharing site Rapidshare has been found guilty of violating German copyright law by The Regional Court of Hamburg, and ordered to pay about €24 million ($34 million) to the country’s royalty-collection agency GEMA. More importantly, though, the court put the burden of figuring out whether or not copyrighted material was on Rapidshare’s servers on the people running the service, and not the infringees; the court also said that the site’s current efforts to figure out whether or not content on its servers infringed copyrights were insufficient.

“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,” it was stated in a declaration issued by GEMA. The court also ruled that the precautions allegedly taken by rapidshare.com and other file-hosting sites were not sufficient to effectively prevent the copyright breaches caused by the service. “The judgment of the Regional Court of Hamburg marks a milestone in GEMA’s efforts to combat the illegal use of music works on the Internet,” said Dr. Harald Heker, CEO of GEMA, in a statement. “GEMA will continue to do everything it can to shield its members from online piracy. 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 said that this was just one court, and (somewhat ominously!) added something about it making “more sense to work together to provide music fans with the right services at the right price and to open up a new source of income for music-markets on the Internet.” Some 5,000 tracks were cited in the decision, which came down yesterday. Rapidshare is still up for now, but I’m sure more than a few members of the sad free-stuff-hoarding nation have started turning their teary eyes to the Hong Kong-hosted Megaupload.Court rules against German file-sharing site [Hollywood Reporter]German Court Rules Against Rapidshare [Billboard]