In the wake of video streaming and BitTorrent website shut downs, Chief Legal Officer of RapidShare Daniel Raimer is trying to keep the attention off his website. RapidShare is a direct download website that admittedly carries some content that infringes copyright.
"Rather than enacting legislation that could stifle innovation in the cloud, the U.S. government should crack down on this critical part of the online piracy network," Raimer wrote in a letter to the Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. The letter was written last week to emphasize Raimer's idea that file-sharing services aren't inherently evil.
The belief is based around the fact that not all content on sites like RapidShare are infringing. Some of the files are in the public domain or are personal work being exchanged willingly.
The real issue according to Reiner is linking sites that send users to different webistes in order to find certain files to download or view on file-hosting servers. RapidShare does store files online, but it doesn't offer a search engine to sort through them.
Raimer adds, "These very sophisticated websites, often featuring advertising, facilitate the mass indiscriminate distribution of copyrighted content on the Internet and should be the focus of US intellectual property enforcement efforts." If government efforts are moved away from websites that don't incentivize copyright infringement than RapidShare would be able to function without fear of prosecution.
The argument fights for more than RapidShares longevity. The belief is that if laws to counter piracy are put into place against websites that aren't incentivizing piracy, that creativity and potential advancements could be squandered by the new legislation.
Raimer has promoted the idea of "voluntary industry agreements" to keep websites from committing copyright infringement. The concept is similar to how the movie industry created the Motion PIcutre Association of America (MPAA) to keep the government from creating a censorship organization for films.
The MPAA along with other entertainment organizaitons are the leading forces in the anti-piracy movement and are often the main supporters of laws like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was voted down earlier this year. To prevent a law similar to SOPA could pass in the future and restrict online freedoms, a self-regulated system like the one Raimer suggests could be the best answer.
The RapidShare CLO thinks that file-sharing mediums need to take their services more seriously and the government takedown efforts should be focused to link sharing sites that bring users to infringing materials. Once this is taken care of, he believes that "copyright holders should have little left to complain about," according to Torrent Freak.
As a member of an organization that facilitates piracy, Raimer seems rightfully worrisome by the current climate surrounding copyright infringement online. Since the beginning of 2012 linking sites like SurfTheCHannel have seen their owners sentenced to jail time, the Pirate Bay and other BitTorrent sites have gone under scrutiny, and the private trakcer Demonoid was taken down by the Ukrainian government and had its domains sold.