How do you stop a software pirate? Valve Software managing director and co-founder Gabe Newell has said that it's an issue of quality of service: Provide potential gamers a service and value greater than that which they could achieve by piracy, and they'll purchase a title instead of downloading it.
For the download service Rapidshare, the opposite seems true as well: Cut the value of your service to a significant enough of a degree, and pirates will be forced to turn elsewhere instead of using your free services – file-hosting and downloads – to further their illegal ambitions.
According to Rapidshare, the company appears to be the new go-to location for storing and sharing copyright material since the demise of Megaupload, a similar site that allowed users to upload and share content of all types.
"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," said representatives of the company in an interview with TorrentFreak.
"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."
But that's not to say that RapidShare has flicked off the switch for fast, free downloads permanently. The company is allegedly offering RapidPro subscribers – that's the company's paid-for storage service – the chance to kick file downloaders' speeds back up to normal again.
The catch? Said subscribers have to provide RapidShare with additional details related to their accounts, presumably to verify that the account holders are using the site for legitimate means. After all, it's not likely that those hosting copyrighted material on paid-for accounts would be willing to cough up their actual email addresses and phone numbers – two details RapidShare wants to know.
In addition, RapidPro users looking to unlock speedy transfers for downloaders of their files will have to describe the exact files they're storing on the service and cough up the URLs of the sites that feature these RapidShare download links.