20081020_chang_0006File hosting service Rapidshare, used primarily to upload, share and download movies, music albums and other large files, is scouting for local content providers in order to attract more Indian users. Rapidshare is a file hosting service, and used by millions of Internet users for sharing comic book PDFs, mp3s, videos, movies etc. Users can upload hundreds of MB of files to Rapidshare, share the download link with their friends and let them download them for free. A premium service that offers more storage and priority bandwidth is also available.

Medianama spoke to Bobby Chang, COO, RapidShare, who plans to make the website a one stop shop for games, music, movies and books. He also talks about a new tool for corporate users, game distribution and copyright violations.

Movies: Published Vs User Uploaded

This month, Rapidshare will launch its latest portal – RapidMovies – globally. The company is currently waiting for publishers to bring content on board, but we wonder how this would really matter, since movies are already available on Rapidshare as uploads by users. While the site does not offer a search facility, it does not take long to Google for the latest movie on Rapidshare, even Bollywood ones such as Kambakht Ishq, Jashn and ShortKut.

In an emailed reply, Chang said, “There’s a big difference in who owns the content. Movies that users of RapidShare share via the platform is not our content. We are planning to offer free content (free movies, making-ofs and interviews etc) as well as paid content from the film industry, which choose us to distribute or sell their material. We would welcome publishers from India.” RapidMovies will, at first, offer trailers and full length movies in German and English and add more languages, including Indian, after the global launch.

RapidGames, launched in 2007, was made available to  Indian users last year but will now see an accelerated effort to become a platform for game developers and publishers. The website currently offers not only games but mods, patches and trailers of latest games. The next step for RapidGames will be to start selling them, the spokesperson said.

Targets Corporate Services In India In Autumn

A company spokesperson told MediaNama that they’ve noticed that the number of B2B and business users of Rapidshare are increasing in India and are planning to launch a new corporate service this autumn. Currently around 2-3 million of its 40 million daily users of Rapidshare are from India, though the company declined to comment on the number of B2B users. Chang said that there are few firms using Rapidshare’s premium service in India but would not name them.  Would they really need a new service though? “They have different needs, and the new service will offer a special tool to upload and distribute their files,” according to the spokesperson.

The tool is designed for PR agencies, graphic designers, accountants, content providers and others, who have to send big files to a targeted audience in one click, such as art work that has to be sent to a client for approval, or a preview of a new film that a PR agency needs to distribute.

Mobile?

Rapidshare is open to partnerships with Indian gaming studios, Chang said. On being asked if they would enter the mobile gaming segment, he said that it could happen but was unable to share a timeframe or any specifics on how they would go about it.

Rapidshare’s Policy On Piracy, Limited Responsibility

It is no secret that the service is used to illegally transfer and share copyrighted content at a click. “We are not responsible,” Chang said. “It is forbidden to upload any content that violates any law and make copyrighted material publicly available through RapidShare unless you are the content owner. We operate an abuse department which eliminates content that violates law, after the content owner has made us aware of it.” The company does not pre-emptively filter uploads as it would mean invading privacy of users and also because “uploading even copyright protected content is legally ok in many cases. Just the distribution or making it publicly available in a forum is violating law.”

ArsTechnica reported recently that the company handed over IP addresses of its users to the recording industry which, according to rumours, launched a cracked down on users’ homes with the help of local ISPs. We asked the company for the gory details. Chang explained, “The legal situation in Germany is complicated and unclear regarding the duties of a web hoster. According to German Telecommunications law, web hosters have to delete content after notification – that’s what we do. But German copyright law is defined otherwise. This conflict must be solved and law adjusted to the Internet.”

In Germany, a hoster is defined as someone who does not “own” the content on its platform and therefore has limited responsibility for it, he adds. Rapidshare also checks known ‘warez’ sites for links to copyrighted files that have been made publicly available. We also asked them what DRM tools they have to protect content providers, but did not receive an answer.

(Update: corrected mention of Rapidshare as a P2P service, whereas it should have been file sharing. Thanks Amit)