RapidShare ruling favors publishers over pirates

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Publishers John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, Macmillan, Reed Elsevier, Pearson and Cengage Learning have won a judgment in a German court against Switzerland-based RapidShare. Our Technology blog reports:

Book piracy has become a growing concern for publishers as they begin to distribute more of their titles in digital formats on devices such as’s Kindle, Sony’s Reader or the upcoming Apple iPad. To combat piracy, publishers have been quietly issuing so-called takedown notices to websites that host or facilitate the sharing of pirated books, requesting the sites to delete or shut down access to the files. Their suit against RapidShare is among the industry’s first concerted efforts to tackle a website and is akin to lawsuits lobbed by music labels against Napster in 1999 and 2000 for copyright violations.


Pirated versions of literary works under copyright were found, according to the court, to be ‘unlawfully being made publicly available in the context of a share-hosting system on the Internet.’ The court ordered RapidShare to ‘promptly block access’ to pirated books and ‘take precautions going beyond this in order to prevent ... further similar infringement.’

The publishers sent out a news release proclaiming a significant victory over pirates. Yet lawsuits don’t necessarily determine our habits; record companies brought Napster to its knees, but trading MP3s electronically became our cultural norm anyway. Although publishers have every right to defend the works they own, the real trick may be in converting file-sharers to file-buyers.

-- Carolyn Kellogg