back to article German court: Rapidshare must HUNT for dodgy pirate links

The operators of a file-hosting website must search for and pro-actively prevent material identified as copyright-infringing from being uploaded by users, a court in Germany has ruled. A Higher Regional Court in Hamburg said Rapidshare had not done enough to tackle piracy and said the company should delete "infringing download …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ex east german judge ?

    I think someone should tell him the Berlin wall came down a long time ago and the Stasi were disbanded.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Won't be a file left to upload

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Will be a law that provides the rights in all EU countries which gives Germans power to bagsey all the sunbeds without the need to leave a towel there at 6am.

      Greece will be especially hammered by this.

      1. CmdrX3

        Re: next

        They tried bagsying them every night for a week when I was in Tenerife. I of course bagsyed their towels to a nearby railing every morning as well.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It looks like it's going to be illegal to filter content and also illegal not to filter content.

  3. g e

    Bye bye YouTube then

    In fact it would seem to have create a viable DOS attack for any site that allows posts from users...


    Oh freddled gruntbuggly thy micturations are, to me, as plurdled gabbleblotchits 'pon a lurgid bee. Groop! I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes, and hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewardles lest I rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon. See if I don't.

    (or something like that, anyway)

    Now El Reg has to be bent over in Germany (ew. What a thought) for reproducing Douglas Adams' Vogon Poem from HHG

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bye bye YouTube then

      You'll be waiting a while for Mr Adams to complain.

      I don't think He would have minded people enjoying his poetry.

      1. Vic

        Re: Bye bye YouTube then

        > I don't think He would have minded people enjoying his poetry.

        It was Vogon poetry.

        I suspect he'd have been quite disturbed to find *anyone* enjoying it...


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bye bye YouTube then

          I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was really particularly effective.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    As usual

    As usual, Germany doesn't give a f**k about European regulations and decisions if they don't match their view of the world.

    1. g e

      Re: As usual

      You nearly mentioned it once, but I think you got away with it ;o)

    2. esque

      Re: As usual

      This regional court in Hamburg is known for it's pro-content providers rulings.

      Considering that the ruling goes against decisions by a higher court (the mention EU court) it's almost guaranteed to be overruled as soon as Rapidshare appeals the ruling.

      Don't judge a country by one ruling by one court!

  5. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    And in other news...

    Shops have a similar obligation to ensure that they aren't fencing stolen goods from crooked suppliers. IANAL but I suspect that the phrases "reasonable steps" and "due diligence" would be relevant here.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Encrypt and password-protect the archives

    and give them only a non-descript unique identifier, before uploading. Then, where link sites are blocked, filehosts in countries subject to such blocking won't be able to check whether the files are pirated or not.

  7. Shane8


    File: Something_Cool.rar

    (password and filename encrypted ofc)

    How would one determine (without the password) if this file is illegal material?

  8. Jeebus

    Germans in imposing their world view, I'm shocked they don't present their Internet as blonde haired and blue eyed.

  9. jai


    "internet sites could no longer shirk their responsibilities and achieve illicit financial gain"

    so what about if you're hosting the files for zero profit? charges to users are adjusted constantly to ensure they only cover monthly costs, and once done.

    yes, a major headache to do, because the cheaper the site is, the more popular it will be, so the higher the bandwidth costs required, but i don't think it's impossible.

    and then, there are no financial gain, illicit or not. would that be acceptable to the court?

  10. Mad Mike

    Pointless judgement

    Another pointless and impractical judgement from a court, this time German. How can a hosting site reasonably work out if your file breaches copyright. Even if the file is in the clear and not protected somehow, you could be within your rights to publish and another person publishing the same might not be. How can they possibly know to take one down and leave the other?

    From a simple logic point of view, it fails. From a simple to get round (e.g. encryption etc.) point of view, even easier to make impossible. From a legal point of view, quite at odds with the ECJ, which Germany is supposed to honour.

    Barking mad. Absolutely barking.

    Surprised the judge didn't go further and suggest the sites should pass a copy (with identification data) onto some central authority (why not call it 'The Stasi'). Then, they can send round the stormtroopers (sorry 'police') and raid everyone all the time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pointless judgement

      You do realise that the Stasi were not part of the police force and were a completely separate organisation? It would be like stating that a member of MI5 was a member of the Met. Wholly wrong and inaccurate

      1. Mad Mike

        Re: Pointless judgement

        @AC. I thought it was fairly obvious the comments should not be taken literally. I also put 'police' and 'stasi' within quotes, hence indicating I didn't expect them to be taken as literal. Whilst your comment is quite correct, nowhere in my posting does it indicate the Stasi were part of the police. Just because I said the police would perform a raid on behalf of the Stasi doesn't indicate this. Indeed, in this country, the police have often performed raids (anti-terrorist etc.) on behalf of MI5 or using information provided by MI5.

  11. Pete Spicer

    Maybe I'm misreading it here but this seems like a meaningful appearance of common sense to me.

    On the one hand, site operators that allow uploading of content must be pro-active about looking for infringing material.

    On the other, ISPs themselves (not individual sites) can't be made to filter content, of the kind that BT and TalkTalk (IIRC) were fighting.

    Where's the problem here? Any site owner is responsible for ensuring that what's on the site is legit, and the ISPs aren't responsible for what their users do. Same as ever, except this time we have some legal precedent for it.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge


      The problem is it just won't work.

      No one has an acceptably fool-proof filter and such sites don't have the profit margins to employ the hundreds of people needed to manually review and validate the *user uploaded* content. And the rights holders also feel it is too expensive and difficult for them to do via the sites take-down procedures.

      Finally, there is this thing called "privacy" which is a right, much older and more basic than copyright, and people should resist its systematic erosion in the name of profits and/or gov paranoia.

      Really, the copyright holders are not happy that sharing data is cheap & easy and want it to be made too impractical for the hosting sites to survive, so this new internet business just fades away and things return to the days of old.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @problem (@Paul Crawford)

        Ah yes, the old "It won't work", "Rights" and the incredibly sad "Outdated business model" arguments. If people hadn't been considering copyright infringement their right just "'cos it's the Internet" all this wouldn't be necessary, would it? Don't want overcharging providers to get your money? Don't buy the stuff and leave it at that. They'll lose income anyhow. But that'd be the legal, moral thing to do, wouldn't it? If the musicians or whatever want the income they can market themselves. They have the freedom to do so. Instead all you get is a load of geniuses who seem to think that making it impossible to identify infringing material will achieve their goals. All that'll do is shut filesharing sites down quicker because you've made it impossible to prove they're clean. Well done. Applause, applause, applause ...

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: @problem (@Paul Crawford)

          Firstly on "It won't work" lets take a simple example: say I upload a collection of my own scribblings called "the Rolling Stones collection", and say its in some encrypted form (or just non-standard) then how will an automated system decide if I have infringed copyright?

          On the sole basis of the file name components? On fragments of that (as anti-spam filters fail to stop v1agra and similar subjects)? Or will *my* rights be blocked "just in case" someone else's are infringed?

          In reverse, it is then easy for infringes to do the same and avoid detection. So quite how is this filter going to *work* to any usable degree? And if it fails, will the courts shut the site down for not doing the impossible?

          As for the bigger question of "Outdated business model" then its going to take more space & time to discuss than I have here. While I have great sympathy for the creative industry, the simple fact is the digital era *has* changed the world, for better generally, and there has to be adaptation to this new world.

          And yet (as El Reg's Andrew Orlowski has covered in considerable detail) we still don't have very good options for legitimate sales. For music, its got better with DRM-free downloads, but really often more or less at the same cost as physical media (with its manufacturing, shipping, shop front, etc, overheads). Who are they kidding?

          To put the preservation of copyright above all other considerations like fundamental privacy and services to others is farcical. Yes, the creative industry deserves payment, but they have to adapt to the way it is now with price & convenience that will win over the moral majority, and not to rely on courts imposing technical decisions they don't understand.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do what is right or be shut down

    ISP's don't need to filter copyright protected materials. They can be heavily fined and shut down for facilitating piracy. It's their choice - which sounds better?

  13. Xenobyte


    "...and search for others "selectively in link resources" online and prevent them be made publicly available on its site..."

    The judge actually demanded that Rapidshare must employ people to sit and join as many file sharing forums as possible, just to sit and wait for links to be published relating to Rapidshare, and block/delete them on Rapidshare's systems?

    This is insanity!

    Oh, and fingerprinting uploads won't work either. Most uploads are split archives and neither inside or outside are titles etc. used, so matching things on filenames are out.

    I've already seen the first archives with a random junk file inside that will make both checksum, file listing and size vary, despite basically the same content. I think it's one (or more) of the "link safe" systems that does this... You know the systems that automatically re-uploads a file if it gets deleted. The uploader publishes the link to the link safe system that when clicked bounces you to the most current hosting link, usually after having shown you a few ads.

  14. Graham Marsden

    Rapidshare...? So what...

    ... given that they seem to be attempting to drive themselves out of business by making their "service" incomprehensibly complicated to use.

    (It's still a stupid ruling, though)

  15. Idgarad

    GM called

    I am waiting for those government backed businesses to have to start hunting people using their products and services for illegal (subjective) activities. I mean in all honesty what has Ford and GM done to prevent their vehicles being used in crimes?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You're either for or against piracy

    Pick your poison. Either way you're going to pay.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Screw 'em

    Terminate the internet service access for the music and print publishers!

  18. T J


    Yeah, yeah, I can REALLY see this decision surviving for ..... about 30 seconds.

  19. Tim Bates
    Thumb Down

    Anyone for this...

    If you are for these sorts of judgements on the grounds that people shouldn't pirate, then you clearly have never created any content of your own.

    These judgements are all leading us to the scary situation whereby creative works will only be available via the "official" channels. Websites that offer sharing of creative content will end up being very locked down, or simply closed down if draconian rules like this keep getting applied.

    It's not just about freedom to pirate - it's the practical side. How can a computer tell if the video I just uploaded was made by me or by a major company somewhere?

    I have been the victim of copyright infringement. But worse, I have been the victim of poorly implemented automated copyright checkers... A film I created was deleted by a large website even though 100% of the content was created by me and my family. No copyright music, no copyright video clips. Just us and content we had generated.

    Ironically, the same website refused a takedown request I made when someone else created a profile using images from one of my videos (basing the profile on a character we had created for that film).

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