Online file-sharing company RapidShare has apparently slowed down the connection of users who are not registered members. These free users have been complaining about reduced download speeds during transfers. Some users have reported speeds as slow as 30/kbs. RapidShare says that the reason for this is simple enough: Throttling these users drive pirates away from their service. They claim that, since the close of MegaUpload, they have seen a major uptick in traffic, and some of it is only interested in sharing and downloading illegal software.
Critics argue that this is just a heavy-handed way of driving free users to opt-in to paying for the service.
"On January 19th MegaUpload was shut down by the FBI. Shortly thereafter, several other file hosters curbed their services or entirely stopped their operations," the company told TorrentFreak. "RapidShare has been faced with a severe increase in free user traffic and unfortunately also in the amount of abuse of our service ever since, suggesting that quite a few copyright infringers have chosen RapidShare as their new hoster of choice for their illegal activities."
“We have thus decided to take a painful yet effective step: to reduce the download speed for free users. We are confident that this will make RapidShare very unpopular amongst pirates and thus drive the abusive traffic away.”
The company went on to say that it has some solutions for those free customers who use RapidShare to support their websites and blogs:
"We knew that through the action taken we would even affect some RapidPro customers, especially those who offer their own files via websites or blogs and heavily depend on a possibility for free users to download their files. Therefore, we have decided to offer those customers a kind of deregulation that allows free users to download their files with the fastest possible speed again," the company says.
Those who want to use RapidShare for free can get this "deregulation" by sharing what kind of content they are uploading and sharing. But this "workaround" also gives RapidShare the right to check their files and websites for illegal activities.
In the aftermath of MegaUpload’s fall from grace, RapidShare wants to have the image of a file-sharing site that abides by the law. It's tough to blame them for that, but they should probably find a nicer way to maintain that image...