|Founded||27 May 2002|
|Dissolved||31 March 2015|
|Headquarters||Schochenmühlestrasse 6, 6340 Baar, Switzerland|
|Slogan(s)||Secure Data Logistics|
|Alexa rank||2,542 (June 2014[update])|
|Type of site||Online backup service|
|Available in||English, French, German and Spanish|
RapidShare was a one-click hosting service that began as a free file hosting service but offered only commercial services toward the end of its life. Operating from Switzerland, it was financed by the subscriptions of paying users. RapidShare claimed in 2009 to have 10 petabytes of files uploaded by users to its servers and that it was able to handle up to three million users simultaneously.
RapidShare was founded by Christian Schmid, who also took over management of the company after longtime CEO and COO Bobby Chang left in April 2010.
RapidShare's original site was RapidShare.de, using the German top-level domain ".de". Later a second site, RapidShare.com, was started. It operated in parallel with RapidShare.de for several years. On March 1, 2010, RapidShare.de was shut down, and users visiting the site were forwarded to RapidShare.com. Files hosted on RapidShare.de were no longer available for download.
Rapidshare had its central office in Baar, Switzerland
In 2010, RapidShare was said to have hundreds of millions of visitors per month and to be among the 50 most popular Internet sites.
Lawsuits by the owners of copyrighted content shared via Rapidshare, and the takedown of file hoster Megaupload, caused Rapidshare to revise its business model. The company changed its focus to B2B cloud storage services, but a drop in revenue led to a reduction in staffing by three quarters in May 2013. By 2014 its Alexa ranking had sunk below 1,400.
In late February 2014, the website PCTipp.ch, based on reports from a former Rapidshare employee "MarkusP," stated that Rapidshare had presented a "quit or be fired" ultimatum to 23 of its 24 employees (already down from 60 employees just two years before) and that most had resigned. The rest, save one, were terminated. As of mid-March Rapidshare was reported as operating with only one employee, a support person who answers the telephone and manages the existing customers and accounts. The product development team was no more. On March 13, 2014, Rapidshare announced price increases for its paid services of about 150%. Free users would continue to be able to use Rapidshare but their download speeds and capacity were sharply curtailed.
On February 10, 2015, RapidShare announced on its home page that it would shut down its services permanently on March 31, 2015. All the data would be unavailable after the shutdown of the service, even to existing customers.
On March 31, 2015, the site home page displayed a notice about the service's closing and thanking users for understanding.
Operation and services
Upon uploading, the user was supplied with a unique download URL which enabled anyone with whom the uploader shared the URL to download the file. No user was allowed to search the server for content.
Registration and payment allowed benefits such as unlimited download speed, immediate download (instead of experiencing a waiting period), download of several files simultaneously, queue skipping, the facility to interrupt and restart downloads, uploading, downloading bigger files up to 2 GB and to store up to 50 GB of data that cannot expire.
Before 1 July 2010, there was a rewards program that allowed the user to trade "RapidPoints" for a selection of products depending on the number of points the user had collected. On June 18, 2010, RapidShare announced that it would stop this program along with RapidDonations on July 1, 2010, to avoid the impression it rewarded its users for uploading copyrighted material.
There were restrictions on downloads by non-account holders. Examples included a 167-minute waiting (increased in 2011 from 15–20 minutes) time between downloads and a 5-minute (previously 1-minute) waiting period for each download once the user's waiting time between downloads has refreshed.
RapidShare offered two computer programs to simplify file managing:
This software had many more features than the Uploader, especially queuing and resuming the upload as well as the downloads. The version linked on the site worked with Windows Vista and 7, Mac, and Linux. An older official client was also available for Windows XP.
RapidShare did not restrict automatic downloads to their downloader, however, they did not provide technical support to third-party downloaders as they did for RapidShare Manager.
Views on RapidShare differ to a great extent. On 19 January 2007, the German performance rights organisation GEMA claimed to have won a temporary injunction against both RapidShare.de and RapidShare.com. "The latter is said to have used copyright protected works of GEMA members in an unlawful fashion."
RapidShare started to check newly uploaded files against a database of files already reported as illegal. By comparing the files' MD5-hash the site would now prevent illegal files from being reuploaded. While this would be sufficient under United States law, it was later established in court that under German law it is not. That decision forced RapidShare to check all the uploaded files before publishing them.
In April 2009, RapidShare handed over to major record labels the personal details of uploaders who uploaded copyright-protected files. The incident is reported to have arisen due to a leak of a pre-release copy of metal band Metallica's Death Magnetic album.
A month later, RapidShare stated on their website: "we will not spy out the files that our clients faithfully upload onto RapidShare, not now nor in future. We are against upload control and guarantee you that your files are safe with us and will not be opened by anyone else than yourself, unless you distribute the download link."
Six global publishers obtained an injunction against Swiss-based RapidShare AG. 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.
By contrast, the Düsseldorf higher regional court has twice overturned injunctions filed by the German film and DVD rental company, Capelight Pictures (Ref. I-20 U 166/09; I-20 U 8/10). The court declared that the file hoster could not be held liable for publication of copyright protected material by third parties and revoked the injunction initially upheld by the Düsseldorf district court in the main proceedings. The court also indicated that a file hoster is not obliged to use a word filter as this would also prevent legal copying for private use.
In May 2010, the District Court Southern District of California, in its legal case (09-CV-2596H WMC) between the publisher of an online erotic magazine and RapidShare, rejected the filling of a temporary injunction against the file hoster. The presiding judge turned down the application because the plaintiff failed to make a credible case for a direct infringement of copyright or for RapidShare having supported copyright violations.
In the 2009 - 2010 legal case Atari Europe S.A.S.U. v. Rapidshare AG in Germany, the Düsseldorf higher regional court reached the conclusion on appeal that "most people utilize RapidShare for legal use cases" and that to assume otherwise was equivalent to inviting "a general suspicion against shared hosting services and their users which is not justified".
The court also observed that the site removes copyrighted material when asked, does not provide search facilities for illegal material, noted previous cases siding with RapidShare, and after analysis concluded that the plaintiff's suggestions for preventing sharing of copyrighted material were "unreasonable or pointless". It also judged that RapidShare could not be held liable for copyright infringements by its users, and that while the service was legal, a minority of illegal use could not be prevented by other measures proposed - for example keyword-based filtering (which would prevent legal use), manual review of uploads (not feasible), or IP analysis (as IPs are often dynamic and change).
In December 2010, in response to the congressional international anti-piracy caucus' press release and the German court ruling, RapidShare enlisted the services of Dutko Worldwide to lobby its interests in the United States Congress.
In March 2012, the Hamburg higher regional court upheld three earlier decisions that the file hoster could be held liable for publication of copyright protected material by third parties.
On February 24, 2012, Rapidshare announced that due to a surge in illegal traffic in response to the Megaupload seizure, it had limited all free accounts to a total of 30 kbit/s maximum download speed. As of August 2012 this restriction has been lifted for an unspecified amount of time. Previously in order to lift the download cap it suggested users purchase a RapidPro account. After October 2012, free users could download like premium users (with no speed limit).
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- Smith, Robert W. (19 January 2007). "GEMA obtains injunctions against data exchange services". Heise Online. Archived from the original on 3 January 2008. Retrieved 31 January 2007.
- "Haftung von RapidShare IV Oberlandesgericht Hamburg Urteil v. 02.07.2008 - Az.: 5 U 73/07". Webhosting & Recht (in German).
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- "RapidShare Wins in Court". gigaom.com. 3 May 2010.
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- Roettgers, Janko (2010-05-03). "RapidShare Wins in Court". Gigaom.com. Retrieved 2011-01-16. - cite from ruling: "Es ist davon auszugehen, dass die weit überwiegende Zahl von Nutzern die Speicherdienste zu legalen Zwecken einsetzen und die Zahl der missbräuchlichen Nutzer in der absoluten Minderheit ist." (It is to be expected that the vast majority of users use the storage services for lawful purposes and the number of abusive users are in the absolute minority.)
- From the Atari v. RapidShare ruling: "entspricht einem Generalverdacht gegen Sharehoster-Dienste und ihre Nutzer, der so nicht zu rechtfertigen ist" (corresponds to a general suspicion against shared hosting services and their users, which is not to justify such).
- "RapidShare Not Liable For Pirating Users, Court Rules". TorrentFreak. 4 May 2010.
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