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08/10/2009 The New York Times By RANDALL STROSS

Will Books Be Napsterized?

Free file-sharing of e-books will most likely come to be associated with RapidShare, a file-hosting company based in Switzerland. It says its customers have uploaded onto its servers more than 10 petabytes of files %u2014 that’s more than 10 million gigabytes %u2014 and can handle up to three million users simultaneously. Anyone can upload, and anyone can download; for light users, the service is free. RapidShare does not list the files %u2014 a user must know the impossible-to-guess U.R.L. in order to download one.

But anyone who wants to make a file widely available simply publishes the U.R.L. and a description somewhere online, like a blog or a discussion forum, and Google and other search engines notice. No passwords protect the files.

“As far as we can tell, RapidShare is the largest host site of pirated material,” Mr. McCoyd said. “Some publishers are saying half of all infringements are linked to it.”

When I asked Katharina Scheid, a spokeswoman for RapidShare, if the company had a general sense of what kinds of material were most often placed on its servers %u2014 music? videos? other kinds of content? %u2014 she said she could not say because “for us, everything is just a file, no matter what.”

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