Publishers Win Ruling to Stop Rapidshare From Illegally Distributing Copyrighted Content
Six global publishers—Bedford, Freeman and Worth Publishing Group, a subsidiary of Macmillan; Cengage Learning; Elsevier; John Wiley & Sons; The McGraw-Hill Companies; and Pearson Education—have obtained an injunction against Swiss-based file-sharing site Rapidshare.com. The judgment, handed down by a German court in Hamburg, ordered Rapidshare to implement measures to prevent illegal file-sharing of 148 copyright-protected works cited in a lawsuit filed Feb. 4 by the publishers.
The publishers in this case alleged that Rapidshare, which collects monthly fees from many of its users, encourages (through a variety of reward programs), facilitates and profits from the unauthorized uploading of content. The court ruled that Rapidshare must monitor its site to ensure copyrighted material is not being uploaded and to prevent unauthorized access to the material by its users. The company will be subject to substantial fines for noncompliance, according to a statement released by Wiley.
“After spending years of my life writing and refining my book, it is truly demoralizing to see it up on an Internet share site free for download within days of publication. Companies like Rapidshare derive substantial profit by facilitating the theft of the work of others, adding no value to the creative process and providing no compensation to the creators,” says Jonathan Harbour, an author whose book on gaming was among those found on Rapidshare.com without permission and was included in the lawsuit.
“What really troubles me is that too many people who download copyrighted books from these sites do not realize it is illegal to do so, or they think that copyright infringement has no victims,” Harbour continues. “The truth is that when people illegally download a book, they are stealing from one of the hundreds of thousands of creative people who are not celebrities and who work hard to make ends meet.”
“This ruling is an important step forward. Not only does it affirm that file-sharing copyrighted content without permission is against the law, but it attaches a hefty financial punishment to the host, in this case Rapidshare, for noncompliance. Consider this a shot across the bow for others who attempt to profit from the theft of copyrighted works online,” says Tom Allen, CEO of the Association of American Publishers.
“Without the ability to earn a living from their work, authors will not have the incentive to create books in the first place,” Allen continues. “Moreover, publishers won’t be able to develop powerful content resources and educational tools that help to improve the academic and professional performance of the people who use them. Quality and reliability would suffer, and distinguishing credible, quality information from that which is unreliable and untrustworthy would become a gargantuan task. If that happens, we all lose.”