Rapidshare's future in doubt following legal defeat

The popular file-sharing service may be forced to shut down if it can not control the uploading of pirated music to its service after a German court ruling.

The German equivalent of the RIAA, GEMA, won a legal battle in district court in Düsseldorf last week which found that Rapidshare should be held responsible for the uploading of infringing material to its site.

Rapidshare has maintained that it could not be held responsible for the actions of its users, a now common defense among peer-to-peer services embroiled in such legal battles.

However, like other cases, courts worldwide have tended to side with the rights holders. Under the terms of the ruling, Rapidshare will be forced to prevent the material from even appearing on the service, rather than being allowed to take it down after the fact.

GEMA praised the ruling in a press release --that incidentally came out even before the actual results were handed down-- calling it a "milestone decision."

"It sends out a clear signal that any services, which derive financial benefit from unlawful uses of our works, will have to take extensive measures to protect the rights owners and cannot simply evade liability by referring to the action of individual users," CEO Harald Heker said in a statement.

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