Rapidshare's cooperation with German rights holders that led to the raid of the flat of a suspected Metallica uploader continues to make waves. P2P Blog reported about the case a month ago. Ars Technica and other online publications caught up in recent days, and Rapidshare has finally reacted with an official press release that tries to reassure users of the service that it is safe.
The release explains that, under current German law, services like Rapidshare only have to reveal the identity of an uploader in case acts of commercial or otherwise substantial infringements. Rapidshare CEO Bobby Chang comments:
"Most German users are not affected by this provision, their privacy and their data is protected like before (the recent copyright changes). We don't keep logs about the files our users download. Freedom of information is a fundamental part of every democracy. At the same time, we do obey the laws. It's surprising that this fact has been treated as a revelation."
The release goes on to explain that it is legal for German users to upload copies of media to Rapidshare as a way of backing them up, and that users can also send links to these files to their friends or relatives due to fair use protections.
However, publishing links to MP3s or movies saved on Rapidshare's servers in web forums is illegal in Germany. Shared file hosters would be forced to give up information about the uploader in such cases regardless of their place of incorporation or the location of their servers. "People are wrong if they believe we would give up IP addresses without a good reason," concludes Chang.
Of course, this doesn't answer the question why Rapidshare keeps logs of these IP addresses in the first place. The company kept mum about the types of data it collects for a long time, and only recently revealed to P2P Blog that it does collect the IP addresses of uploaders (for details, see our FAQ: What does Rapidshare know about you?). Technically, that doesn't seem to be necessary. One could easily imagine a set-up that would involve uploaders logging in with their account information and then identifying themselves via a cookie without Rapidshare's servers keeping logs of IP addresses.