RapidShare: Is This Company Handing Over User Info?

Content is constantly leaking, and constantly shared without legal permission.

P2P and BitTorrent networks are often the best places to swap free stuff, though virtual storage sites are also becoming increasingly popular.  That includes RapidShare, a massive upload destination that allegedly handed the identity of a user over to a major label in Germany.  The disclosure apparently led to a police raid, based on a pre-release upload of the latest Metallica album.

The incident was first reported by German site Gulli, responding to a tip from the affected user.  RapidShare is accused of handing over an IP address to the requesting label, which then matched that information to the identity of the user in coordination with the ISP.  The information was revealed under the so-called “Paragraph 101” of German copyright law.  RapidShare has not offered any official response, though Gulli has posted court documents and other pertinent paperwork.

The disclosure could form the basis for a broader effort to reveal uploaders in Germany.  It also reflects a growing awareness within the industry of the role that upload sites play in piracy.  In a large percentage of pre-release leaks, upload sites are frequently the first point of dissemination.