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  1. #1
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    Recovering Lost Revenue From File Storage Sites?

    Over the past few days, we've discovered that one of our digital products has been 'doing the rounds' on sites like Rapidshare, Megaupload etc. According to combined download counters, the bill comes in at around $300,000. Getting the links removed was certainly not easy (Rapidshare took 3 emails, 2 faxes and an irrate phonecall). No dount within a few days, those links will be replaced with new ones.

    What can be done about this? It's quite obvious that these sites exist purely to allow sharing of copyrighted materials and they are profiting from this via subscriptions and ads - can they really just hide behind their ToS 'We cannot be responsible for what our users upload'? Has anyone successfully sued these companies for lost revenue?

    We also found a Russian site selling on of our ebooks - what the hell can we do about this beyond a DMCA notice to the US search engines? And don't talk to me about the Chinese site that is giving away our ebook as part of their gratious 'open ebook policy'.

    Finally we found quite a few sites linking to rapidshare, but displaying our product image and company logo (downloaded, not hotlinked) - again, this is at least image copyright infringment (as well as encouraging illegal download of our products) - are we just limited to a cease and desist or can we actually sue these people to recover lost revenue?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Guru kidbuu's Avatar
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    Do you multiply the download counter times the price you're selling those books to come up with that figure of 300k? If so, then I think it's a bit naive to think that visitors of this russian site, or any other site whatsoever, would buy that book instead of download it.

    About sueing those companies, I think they're pretty much covered up. They probably fall under the same laws and rules as normal hosting company, IIRC basicly means they cannot be held responsible for their clients actions as long as they will take action against any illegal activity if given notice of it.

    I'm not sure how linking to Rapidshare downloads can be illegal. This might be the case under the DMCA but as far as I know since it's an US law, will only stand ground on US hosted websites.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by kidbuu
    Do you multiply the download counter times the price you're selling those books to come up with that figure of 300k? If so, then I think it's a bit naive to think that visitors of this russian site, or any other site whatsoever, would buy that book instead of download it.
    Of course I'm not so naive to think that. The figure there is just to underline the extent of how many copies of our product are floating around the internet for free. I'm well aware that only a small proportion of these downloaders would have bought the product should they have not found a freebie version of it but this would still equate to a large sum of money, especially considering the amount of stuff we don't know about.

    What I am more concerned with is how these sites can continue to get away with this as fundamentally, the 'working' business model is one based on allowing people to share copyrighted material as without the copyrighted material, it's unlikely that they would generate the required traffic to cover their costs. They can dress it up all they want and insist it's not intended for illegal distribution, but we all know this isn't the case. Can they really hide behind their ToS? I nearly wet myself talking to the guy from Rapidshare - he acted like some innocent parish vicar, completely shocked that there was a copyrighted file on his server, it so rarely happens, apparently. Please!!

    And the point about simply linking to these files/torrents, is there really nothing that can be done about this? We're not talking about a random blog where someone puts a single link up, these are commercial web sites profiting from ads and subscriptions promoting thousands of links to infringing material. And with sites like this, I would assiume a DMCA notification wouldn't do anything, as they have no copyrighted material on their site?

    I just wonder if anyone has ever had any luck taking any of these types of sites to court?

  4. #4
    SitePoint Guru kidbuu's Avatar
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    Linking to infringing material is illegal under the DMCA. However the site would have to be subject to US law.

    edit: There's an European counterpart to the DMCA. However jurisprudence about linking to infringing material differs per country.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by kidbuu
    Linking to infringing material is illegal under the DMCA. However the site would have to be subject to US law.
    Okay, so I would assume that Google, being a US site, should have to comply and remove these sites or pages from their indexes, regardless of where the site originates, as Google's cache is effectively linking to the copyrighted material?

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    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    I have five things to say about this.

    Go.
    Talk.
    To.
    A.
    Lawyer.

    This is a situation that cannot be resolved by asking for advice on a forum. You really need to talk to an attorney in your jurisdiciton that specializes in copyright and internet law. Ok, so it was really seven things.

    But seriously, this is one of those times when you 100% absolutely, positively, have to talk to an attorney.

    I wish you the best of luck fighting the good fight.

  7. #7
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    Thanks - yes we will talk to a lawyer, but first I wanted to hear people's experiences on this forum and see what, if any, joy they'd had trying to sort these people out.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Guru kidbuu's Avatar
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    Well I think I found the site you were talking about, I will censor it for obvious reasons. You're talking about chip**** right? They indeed have a Russian host, so it will be pointless to send them a C&D letter. What you could do is write a letter or call Rapidshare and notify them about this site. They shouldn't have a hard time with referer blocking a site that is repeatedly violating their ToS I suppose?

  9. #9
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    The site is easy-*******.com - Russian Whois, French contact address on site, but mentions New Jersey in the terms (no doubt robbed). This site is actually selling our ebook (actually found out today it's selling two of our products).

    I'm sure I can get that delisted form Google and other engines. I'll have to see if I can get rapidshare to start banning certain referers, although most of those sites do'nt actually hyperlink, it's a copy & paste job on the URL - guess they're already banned.


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