Direct download site RapidShare has restricted the download speeds of its free accounts in order to thwart pirates, ensuring that if you want to download illegally, you'll have to pay for it.
There's been a lot of upheaval in the download game since MegaUpload was shut down and its owners charged with fraud and money laundering. Filesonic removed its file sharing functionality shortly after and Bitjunkie shut down completely. Now RapidShare is set to make changes, apparently due to an increase in pirated content being shared now that other outlets for this type of service are no longer operating.
"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 host of choice for their illegal activities," the site explained to 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 what if you release your own files using services like this and perhaps rely on free users downloading them - what can you do? RapidShare has considered this and if you give it a rundown of the type of files that you're sharing, your downloaders can get them at full speed.
Has the heyday of direct download piracy come and gone? Perhaps, but companies like RapidShare are certainly looking to remain relevant in an increasingly dangerous business and schemes like this could make it possible to survive.