With millions of visitors per month, Uploaded is one of the largest file-hosting services on the Internet.
Like many of its ‘cloud hosting’ competitors, the service is also used to share copyright infringing material, which is a thorn in the side of various copyright holder groups.
In Germany this has resulted in several lawsuits, where copyright holders want Uploaded to be held liable for files that are shared by its users, if they fail to respond properly to takedown notices.
In one of these cases the court has now clarified that Uploaded can even be held liable for copyright infringement if those messages are never read, due to an overactive ‘spam’ filter.
The case was started several years ago by anti-piracy company proMedia GmbH, which sent a takedown notice to Uploaded on behalf of a record label. The notice asked the site to remove a specific file, but that never happened.
Uploaded, in its defense, argued that it had never seen the takedown notice. It was flagged by its DDoS protection system and directly sent to a spam folder. As such, the notice in question was never read.
Last week the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg ruled on the case. It affirmed an earlier ruling from the Regional Court of Hamburg, concluding that Uploaded can be held liable, spam or no spam.
The court argued that because Uploaded’s anti-DDoS system willingly created a “cemetery for emails,” they can be treated as if they had knowledge of the takedown notices. This decision is now final.
Anja Heller, attorney at the German law firm Rasch which represented the plaintiff, is happy with the outcome in this case.
“File-hosters have to handle their inboxes for abuse notices very carefully. On the one hand they cannot easily claim not having received a notice. On the other hand they have to check blacklisted notices on a regular basis,” she says.
The current lawsuit dealt exclusively with the liability question, so the copyright owners have to file a separate proceeding if they want to obtain damages.
However, together with previous liability verdicts, it definitely makes it harder for file-hosters to operate without a solid anti-piracy strategy.
“The verdict once again shows the high demands German courts place on file-hosters, which are not only obliged to take down links immediately after having received a notice, but have to keep their services clean from infringing content as well,” Heller concludes.
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