GEMA obtains injunctions against data exchange services
The German collecting society GEMA has obtained from the District Court in Cologne temporary injunctions against the operator of the data exchange services www.rapidshare.de and www.rapidshare.com. The latter is said to have used copyright protected works of GEMA members in an unlawful fashion. The services make virtual storage space available into which users can upload content that is thereby made publicly available to other users. GEMA spokesman Hans-Herwig Geyer told heise online that the services should not be allowed to continue to operate in their present form. The collecting society is now demanding that the operator provide details on how many copyright protected works of GEMA members are currently stored on the said sites.
According to GEMA, the service www.rapidshare.de in particular has at times boasted of making some 15 million files available to its users. The operator had however failed to obtain from GEMA a license for making copyright protected files available, the collecting society spokesman observed. To date RapidShare had claimed not to have any knowledge of the content uploaded by the users and of not being in a position to control the same, the spokesman continued. Through its injunctions the District Court in Cologne had now however made it clear to the company that the fact that it was the users and not the operator of the services that uploaded the content onto the sites did not, from a legal point of view, lessen the operator’s liability for copyright infringements that occurred within the context of the services, the spokesman added.
Harald Heker, the chairman of the executive board of GEMA, believes the court's decisions will have repercussions on the way "Web 2.0 services" such as YouTube and MySpace will be treated in future. What the decisions according to Mr. Heker show is that "the mere circumstance of shifting acts of use to users and the purported inability of the operator to control content do not relieve the operator of a service from the copyright liability he/she/it possesses for the content made available for download from the operator's website(s)." (Robert W. Smith) /