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Internet Friendly German court overturns injunction against RapidShare
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German court overturns injunction against RapidShare

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File sharing service RapidShare doesn't have to employ a word filter to combat the sharing of copyrighted files, the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf has now confirmed. The court reversed a preliminary injunction against RapidShare it issued last year, handing the company another legal victory.

Movie distributor Capelight Pictures had won a preliminary injunction against RapidShare for hosting a number of its films, including Insomnia and The Fall, as well as Inside a Skinhead. The court initially ruled that RapidShare had not done enough to prevent the sharing of Capelight's films because it didn't use a word filter, but RapidShare managed to eke out an appeal victory in April by arguing that common English terms, such as "insomnia" and "fall" would cause too many wrong hits with a filter.

A similar argument worked for the most recent decision as well. When it came to Inside a Skinhead, RapidShare said that a filter would hinder people from saving private copies of the file as allowed by German law. The court also said that RapidShare did not have the obligation to stop the dissemination of download links, and reversed its previous injunction.

RapidShare lawyer Daniel Raimer described the ruling as another step in the right direction. "The previously common practice of copyright holders to sue RapidShare on the off-chance there might be something to be gained from it, misunderstanding the realities it is operating within and showing contempt for its business model, will no longer bear fruit. The newest court rulings in Germany and the USA indicate this very clearly."

Indeed, courts in both Germany and the US have recently been issuing favorable rulings for RapidShare. The Düsseldorf appeals court overturned another decision in May, saying that the service can't be held responsible for the actions of third parties and pointing out that various filtering schemes are impractical. In the same month, a US District Court in California denied adult entertainment company Perfect 10's request for an injunction against RapidShare, saying that there wasn't sufficient proof that RapidShare itself had infringed on Perfect 10's copyrights.

The latest rulings are a long way from the days when RapidShare was being told to proactively remove infringing content and found itself facing a possible shutdown. As RapidShare CEO Christian Schmid pointed out, copyright holders may want to reconsider whether it's worth their time to go after file sharing companies (and file sharers)—especially when they seem to be spending so much more on legal fees than what they're getting back in claim settlements.

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