Who would have thought? Rapidshare is on the warpath against people downloading copyrighted material using their webservice, and has a plan to break the cycle of lost industry revenues that are supposed to result.
What are they up to? Their plan is to block and ban users who keep uploading copyrighted material, and to get people who were looking to get the content for free, to pay for it.
How are they going to do it? By redirecting people who were looking to steal something copyrighted to a webpage that offers the content, legally, for sale. I think we all know what their conversion rates will be. The company is orchestrating deals to make this a reality.
Why the move? To keep them out of the court room you can be sure. Rapidshare is a hotbed of theft of copyrighted material, and that paints a gigantic target on its chest for legal battles. They don’t want that.
Of course, some people use Rapidshare for legal, fair, normal use. However, a serious slice of their userbase does not. Those people are soon to be in for a serious surprise.
Once Rapidshare moves really starts its war on that section of its users, how long until their traffic begins to suffer? Will they sell fewer premium accounts? Will they be able to replace lost revenue by selling content? I bet not.
While it takes them out of the legal hotseat, this move is going to make Rapidshare a bit player except among business and casual customers who just want to send and share large files.
What would you do?