Revulytics Blog

Ubiquitous “Cyberlocker” File Share Service Gets Fined

June 25, 2009

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Rapidshare was fined $34M by a German Court as result of efforts by a music copyright watchdog group. Although it's a hefty fine, one only wonders what it would have been if it included pirated software files. V.i. Labs piracy assessments reveal that Rapidshare is the file service of choice for distribution of high value and large applications.

If you are not familiar with the Rapidshare service, it is a one click file upload service that allows you to post and store any file to its site via a Web browser, API, or client uploader application. After the file is uploaded it returns a unique URL link. What makes the service attractive for sharing pirated content is that it allows users to upload individual files up to 200MB and provides unrestricted access to users downloading these files as long as they know the link. The way the service makes money is by selling improved download bandwidth.

Although you can download any file for free, the process is slower than if you have a premium link. But for $80 a year you can download 25 GB and share up to 5 GB using a speedier download process (said to 100 MBit/s in certain areas). This easy to access service has seen tremendous growth in usage and in October 2008 it claimed to have hosted 160 million files. In addition, they announced in April 2008 that they had 240 gigabit/s of Internet connectivity and 5.4 petabytes of storage for users. With this level of capacity, Rapidshare is essentially a public Piracy top site (top sites are exclusive file servers used by the piracy scene to distributed pirated content).

From our research and customer piracy assessments Rapidshare appears to be the favored service for large software applications, but it is not the only one and there are over hundred of these file sharing services.

It’s unlikely that with it current service architecture that Rapidshare can be required to filter or constrain what content is on its servers. The files can be obfuscated and protected before upload. Rapidshare does offer a process to remove links via its API if organizations can prove the links point to pirated material, but the sheer number of files/links make this an unrealistic enforcement option. Even if you could control pirated content on Rapidshare, you would still face the same issues and challenges on hundreds of other similar file hosting services.

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Michael Goff

Post written by Michael Goff

Marketing Director at Revulytics
Michael is Marketing Director at Revulytics where he is responsible for corporate marketing, content, and social media. He has helped to educate the industry on the benefits of software usage analytics for compliance and product management through the company's blog and contributed articles in trade publications. Michael was previously a marketing programs manager at The MathWorks and principal at Goff Communications. Michael earned a J.D. from Boston University School of Law and a B.A. from Colgate University.