The file-hosting website RapidShare unveiled voluntary proposals on Wednesday that it says will help stem the tide of online piracy and copyright infringement.
File-hosting sites like Switzerland-based RapidShare have come under increasing pressure to crack down on users who upload pirated content. Members of Congress have called for stricter legislation, and U.S. law enforcement officials have increased investigations of websites, including a big raid that shut down Megaupload earlier this year.
Rapidshare and other websites that host content online are hoping that voluntary best practices will prevent draconian legislation or law enforcement raids.
“We want stakeholders in the debate over online copyright infringement – customers, content providers, industry competitors, technology experts, policymakers, regulators, and others – to understand that RapidShare recognizes that piracy is a serious problem, that we’re reinforcing our efforts to eradicate it, and that we’re calling on other data-logistics companies to do the same,” RapidShare general counsel Daniel Raimer said.
RapidShare says it takes down offending content within one hour of its discovery, and its proposals include fielding a trained “anti-abuse team” to quickly respond to copyright violations, as required under current law.
Cloud-based services like RapidShare, which store data on remote servers accessed over the Internet, are on the rise, but the technology continues to be dogged by concerns about piracy, privacy, and security. That’s why it’s important for companies to go out of their way to adopt practices that will reassure lawmakers, content producers, and others, Raimer said.
Last week the Recording Industry Association of America, which has pushed for expanded anti-piracy laws, released research showing that the number of people visiting websites with pirated content dropped after the RIAA went to court to take down Limewire’s file-sharing service in 2010.
“Our work is far from done, but the data does collectively show that anti-piracy measures can have real effects on the legal marketplace,” wrote RIAA Vice President Joshua Friedlander.
But some contend that there are better ways to reduce piracy. The Justice Department’s takedown of Megaupload, one of the world's largest file-sharing sites, has had a “deliberate chilling effect,” even among companies that want to use file hosting for legal purposes, said Future of Music Coalition Deputy Director Casey Rae-Hunter, who spoke with Raimer and others at an event unveiling RapidShare’s proposals on Wednesday.
“Many musicians use locker services as enterprise software,” he said. “The technology is neutral, and you have to be very careful to not demonize a whole class of technology.”
Rae-Hunter said that more voluntary measures by file-hosting sites could help reduce the tension between them and content producers. “Antagonism only creates situations where everyone is loser,” he said.