German court hits Rapidshare with $34m fine

Rapidshare has been fined $34m and ordered by a German court to proactively seek out copyright infringement on its servers.

German royalty collectors GEMA filed suit againist Rapidshare requesting that 5,000 tracks managed by GEMA be removed from Rapidshare servers and not be uploaded again. In April, Ars Technica reported that Rapidshare had begun handing over data on file sharers to record labels. And while Rapidshare removes copyrighted content immediately following a takedown notice, GEMA still wasn’t satisfied. In a statement, GEMA said:

“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.”

As Mashable points out, this is a decision frought with fail from start to finish. Let’s just forget that it’s absolutely impossible to police gazillions of users who upload zipped, password protected files to Rapidshare worldwide on a daily basis. If you look at the recent case of Jammie Thomas-Rassert, who was ordered to pay nearly $2m for 24 songs, shouldn’t this fine be in the billions or trillions?

Rapidshare COO Bobby Chang appeared unruffled by the ruling when he commented on it, and pointed out what record labels have been trying to ignore since the RIAA sued its first pre-teen.

“We do not consider the court’s decision to be a breakthrough. As other proceedings in similar disputes with GEMA have shown, there is considerable disparity amongst the individual courts in some cases. Our experience is that the courts of appeal tend to restrict the scope of the decisions made by the lower courts. For this reason, we think that it would make 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.”