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Web sites push back on digital piracy label

Grant Gross | Jan. 12, 2011
Owners of three websites said to be involved in digital piracy in a new paper have objected to the label, saying they provide legitimate and legal services.

FRAMINGHAM 12 JANUARY 2011 - Owners of three websites said to be involved in digital piracy in a new paper have objected to the label, saying they provide legitimate and legal services.

The paper, from brand protection firm MarkMonitor and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, measures the traffic at 91 sites it alleges are either engaged in digital piracy or in the sale of counterfeit goods. Forty-three alleged digital piracy sites generate 53 billion visits a year, the paper said.

The paper named three websites it classified as involved in digital piracy: Rapidshare.com, Megavideo.com and Megaupload.com. Those three sites account for 21 billion visits each year, the paper said.

MarkMonitor's paper isn't the first time Rapidshare and Megaupload have been linked to pirated materials. In October 2009, the Association of American Publishers estimated that half of the pirated books found by its members came from Rapidshare, which allows anonymous uploads. Other groups have also identified Rapidshare and Megaupload as hosts of pirated material.

But Rapidshare AG, based in Switzerland, and a spokeswoman for both Megavideo.com and Megaupload.com, registered in Hong Kong, criticized the paper.

"This defamation of RapidShare as a digital piracy site is absurd and we reserve the right to take legal action against MarkMonitor," the company said in a statement. "RapidShare is a legitimate company that offers its customers fast, simple and secure storage and management of large amounts of data via our servers."

Rapidshare offers takedown procedures similar to sites that aren't considered piracy sites by MarkMonitor, the company added. "RapidShare offers the exact same take down features to copyright owners as YouTube does," the company's statement said. "Now, where is the difference?"

Megaupload and Megavideo are also legitimate businesses "operating within the boundaries of the law," said Bonnie Lam, a spokeswoman for the sites.

Both sites include links on their front pages where copyright owners can ask to have files removed. The sites, which host billions of documents, photos and other files, comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Lam said.

"In five years of operation we have not been sued by a single content owner because we are protected by the DMCA and similar legislation in almost every jurisdiction," she said in an e-mail. If content owners "would have legal grounds they would have taken us to court by now. We suggest that they attack us within the legal system and stop labeling us until they have something to show."

 

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