Rapidshare wants to lose its notoriety as a haven for copyright infringement – and become a legitimate cloud service. The cyberlocker’s chief lawyer Daniel Raimer has written a four-page "anti-piracy manifesto" and hopes this will head off stronger laws that will make legitimate takedowns of infringing websites easier.
Rapidshare's proposals, dubbed "responsible practices for cloud storage", include making files private by default, clamping down on drive-by uploaders, terminating accounts after multiple complaints, and proactively policing for copyright infringement.
“Piracy is a serious problem... we're reinforcing our efforts to eradicate it, and ...we're calling on other data logistics companies to do the same,” Raimer said in a press release. You can read the document here or below.
Raimer is clear that the proposals are designed to head off changes to internet liability laws. Today’s “safe harbour provisions” were designed to encourage online marketplaces from bullying copyright industries. But the perception amongst lawmakers today is that the balance of power has tipped too far in the other direction.
While nobody loves Hollywood, small independent film-makers (without powerful and expensive lawyers) must spend their time playing whack-a-mole, filing takedowns – which are usually ignored – against cyberlockers. Indie film-maker Ellen Seidler explains the problem here.
The answer is finding a settlement that restores justice, protects other important principles, such as privacy, and minimises unforeseen consequences. For example, Rapidshare proposes removing the assumption that the cyberlocker doesn’t routinely rifle through your uploads, looking for possible copyright infringement. It should only do so when there’s been a legitimate complaint. What, then, defines legitimate?
The notion that cloud services are oblivious to everything that's hosted on their services is a little far-fetched. In 2010 Google dismissed an engineer who dipped into teenagers’ Gmail and Gchat services. He was in the ranks of Chocolate Factory techies who have access to all users' communications. Nobody wants this abuse to become routine.
For the RIAA, though, fine words butter no parsnips. It wants stronger law, not pledges, and points out to Ars Technica that Rapidshare is carrying on much as before.
As we observed during the SOPA storm, laws aren’t necessary if enlightened voluntary agreements can be made instead. It just takes a bit of good will; finding a rational middle-ground that gives us a fairer internet than today’s shouldn’t be rocket science.
Earlier this month a Paramount executive revealed a "hit list" of the next five cyberlockers it had in its sights: MediaFire, PutLocker, Depositfiles, Wupload and Fileserve.
Rapidshare wasn’t on the list. ®
Selecting a legitimate cloud service, such as Dropbox, to use for storing files online shouldn't be difficult, and for most people it isn't. But strangely, some folks have chosen to become momentarily confused when the choice arises. If in doubt, to be on the safe side, we recommend you avoid backing up your important files to any site that says it will delete your stuff after 30 days, and that's run by (say) a very large man with the number plates HACKER and MAFIA.