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File sharing service RapidShare ordered to filter content

Rapidshare is a service that makes it easy for users to upload and share files with a large number of people. It can come in handy whether you want to send a large file to a friend who has an email service with file attachment size limits or you want to share files with visitors to your website without paying a hefty web hosting bill.

But Rapidshare has never gained the respect that sites like YouSendIt have. YouSendIt provided a similar service, but it's aimed at sending files to just a handful of users. RapidShare, on the other hand, has become popular with users who upload copyrighted software, music, and movies. And today the company could be paying the price of allowing users to get away with those activities.

A German court is ordering Rapidshare to remove about 5,000 songs from its servers. The lawsuit was brought by GEMA, a group representing copyright holders. The court has ruled that Rapidshare must begin filtering content to prevent users from sharing any songs from artists covered by GEMA. The court estimates the value of those songs at about 24 million Euros (roughly $34 million).

Of course, it's pretty difficult to filter content on a site like Rapidshare, where users can easily ZIP files, change file names, or make other small changes to trick any filtering software that's put in place. I guess we'll have to see if Rapidshare ties to take any steps toward implementing content filters, and if the court decides that a good faith effort is good enough. Or maybe Rapidshare will just appeal the ruling.

[via TechCrunch]

Tags: copyright, gema, germany, lawsuit, news, rapidshare