Gema called the verdict "groundbreaking" because it clarifies that online storage services are fundamentally responsible to rights holders whose works are illegally shared on a massive scale, it said in a news release dated August 16.
Rapidshare did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The service however changed its business model in November 2012 when it announced it would adopt a classic hosting model, meaning that not only the storage space but also the traffic created would have to be paid for solely by the uploader of the file. While RapidPro accounts still come with unlimited traffic for a user's own downloads and downloads by contacts of that user, public traffic was capped at 30 GB per day. This made Rapidshare unattractive for those seeking to share copyright materials without permission.
The current ruling though might pose an extremely complex undertaking for services like Rapidshare, wrote Thomas Stadler, a German lawyer specializing in IT and intellectual property, in a blog post on Wednesday. The services can only minimize but not exclude liability risks by monitoring incoming links, he wrote.
"It is therefore quite possible that this will mean the end for services like Rapidshare in Germany in the short or medium term," he wrote.
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