Global publishers win ruling to stop Rapidshare from profiting from pirated works

Six global publishers have obtained an injunction against Swiss-based Rapidshare AG that is an important step toward holding Internet companies accountable for threatening authors' livelihoods and publishers' ability to invest in and develop quality content and resources.

Hamburg, Germany (PRWEB) February 24, 2010 -- Six global publishers have obtained an injunction against Swiss-based Rapidshare AG that is an important step toward holding Internet companies accountable for threatening authors' livelihoods and publishers' ability to invest in and develop quality content and resources. Plaintiffs in the case were Bedford, Freeman and Worth Publishing Group, LLC a subsidiary of Macmillan; Cengage Learning Inc.; Elsevier Inc; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.; and Pearson Education, Inc.

The judgment handed down by a German court in Hamburg on February 10, 2010, and effective on February 17, 2010, ordered Rapidshare to implement measures to prevent illegal file sharing of the 148 copyright-protected works cited in the lawsuit, which was filed on February 4, 2010. The court ruled that Rapidshare must monitor its site to ensure the copyrighted material is not being uploaded and prevent unauthorized access to the material by its users. The company will be subject to substantial fines for non-compliance. Rapidshare collects monthly fees from many of its users and encourages the unauthorized uploading of content with a variety of reward programs.

Jonathan Harbour, an author and college professor whose book on gaming was among those found on Rapidshare.com without permission, explained why he wanted his title included in the lawsuit: "After spending years of my life writing and refining my book, it is truly demoralizing to see it up on an Internet share site free for download within days of publication. Companies like Rapidshare derive substantial profit by facilitating the theft of the work of others, adding no value to the creative process and providing no compensation to the creators."

He continued, "What really troubles me is that too many people who download copyrighted books from these sites do not realize it is illegal to do so, or they think that copyright infringement has no victims. The truth is that when people illegally download a book, they are stealing from one of the hundreds of thousands of creative people who are not celebrities and who work hard to make ends meet." The plaintiffs in this case have alleged that Rapidshare encourages, facilitates, and profits from such behavior.

Speaking on behalf of the publisher plaintiffs, Tom Allen, CEO of the Association of American Publishers, said, "This ruling is an important step forward. Not only does it affirm that file-sharing copyrighted content without permission is against the law, but it attaches a hefty financial punishment to the host, in this case Rapidshare, for noncompliance. Consider this a shot across the bow for others who attempt to profit from the theft of copyrighted works online."

Mr. Allen elaborated on why unchecked copyright infringement could have serious consequences for our culture at large: "Without the ability to earn a living from their work, authors will not have the incentive to create books in the first place. Moreover, publishers won't be able to develop powerful content resources and educational tools that help to improve the academic and professional performance of the people who use them. Quality and reliability would suffer, and distinguishing credible, quality information from that which is unreliable and untrustworthy would become a gargantuan task. If that happens, we all lose."