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Thread: Copyright rant

  1. #1
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    Copyright rant

    Ok, I'm getting sick of this. Seems to happening more and more frequent. I get an abuse email by the owner of one website claiming a site we host is using an image of theirs, without their consent. So they make all these threats against me, if I don't take down the offending site I'll be up for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and attorney fees. Blah blah blah.

    Why are webhosts being forced to be basically the Judge and Jury, and make legal decisions based on Copyright ownership, that circumvents any proper legal process? I don't mind enforcing a legal decision, if one party has taken another party to court, but why should I the webhost be the Judge and Jury?

    </rant>
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  2. #2
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    I hear ya, Bob.

    Don't let it get under your skin. Just create a canned response that you copy/paste to people like this and then don't give it another thought. Let them know that unless and until they submit a formal DMCA to you, you will not act on their request.

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  3. #3
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    I hate it when people contact my data center directly because the data center staff just forwards the e-mail to me. I make it very clear where to send abuse reports and even include an e-mail address in the footer of every page.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Bob View Post
    Ok, I'm getting sick of this. Seems to happening more and more frequent. I get an abuse email by the owner of one website claiming a site we host is using an image of theirs, without their consent. So they make all these threats against me, if I don't take down the offending site I'll be up for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and attorney fees. Blah blah blah.

    Why are webhosts being forced to be basically the Judge and Jury, and make legal decisions based on Copyright ownership, that circumvents any proper legal process? I don't mind enforcing a legal decision, if one party has taken another party to court, but why should I the webhost be the Judge and Jury?

    </rant>
    You shouldn't. I have a rule: unless it's spam e-mailing, we ain't doing jack without a DMCA request or contact from authorities.
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  5. #5
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    But even with the full DMCA verbarge, it's still circumventing a proper legal process, through a court of law, and forcing the host to be Judge, Jury and executioner in legal matters of copyright ownership.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Bob View Post
    But even with the full DMCA verbarge, it's still circumventing a proper legal process, through a court of law, and forcing the host to be Judge, Jury and executioner in legal matters of copyright ownership.
    Agreed, but it's the best (and only) process we have at this point. What else would you suggest that is better?

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  7. #7
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    I think a canned response like suggested is the best option. Maybe telling them they'll need to provide legal documents like court orders before you act.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by vito View Post
    . . . What else would you suggest that is better?
    A dispute system like they have for domain disputes, where a judge accesses the case and issues a judgment to the host and the host enforces that judgment. The party making the complaint would have to pay a fee, so as to remove frivolous cases. Or working through the current legal system and having a court issue a judgment, and the host enforcing that court issued judgment.
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  9. #9
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    This thread got my thinking of how I handle my abuse reports. I'm considering taking the stance of requiring a court order of some sort like suggested but I get them so frequently I don't know if it's worth the risk.
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  10. #10
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    The DMCA offers safe harbor protections to a host that takes down offending material when they are properly notified. If you choose not to take the material down, you are no longer protected and can be charged with contributory copyright infringement.

    Of course, what you can do, is to contact the owner of the site and tell them that a DMCA complaint was received for imagex and that it will be removed within 24 hours UNLESS a DMCA counterclaim has been received from them.

    This gives you 24 hours to act, and if they file a counterclaim as far as I understand, it's now out of your hands and into the hands of the court.

    Of course, you should always consult an attourney before making your policies (and enforcing them).
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DNGeeks View Post
    The DMCA offers safe harbor protections to a host that takes down offending material when they are properly notified. If you choose not to take the material down, you are no longer protected and can be charged with contributory copyright infringement.

    Of course, what you can do, is to contact the owner of the site and tell them that a DMCA complaint was received for imagex and that it will be removed within 24 hours UNLESS a DMCA counterclaim has been received from them.

    This gives you 24 hours to act, and if they file a counterclaim as far as I understand, it's now out of your hands and into the hands of the court.

    Of course, you should always consult an attourney before making your policies (and enforcing them).
    a "proper" DMCA is sent through the postal system/paper trail method. Email doesn't exactly hold up as being "served" with the papers.

    How many lawsuits do you know happen by being served through email?

  12. #12
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    I think it's best to also point out that regardless of your TOS and how you deal with abuse reports and how the law states DCMA are to be handled, your data center might be different and they cancel out your policy when it comes to their hardware/network. So read up and make sure you and your data center have an understanding of how to handle such reports.

    I've read to many horror stories about data centers dropping hosts because of frequent DCMAs (even though they were taken care of properly, the amount if reports became to much of a hassle or liability I guess).
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Bob View Post
    A dispute system like they have for domain disputes, where a judge accesses the case and issues a judgment to the host and the host enforces that judgment. The party making the complaint would have to pay a fee, so as to remove frivolous cases. Or working through the current legal system and having a court issue a judgment, and the host enforcing that court issued judgment.
    Sounds reasonable. But the complication I see is - what happens if the complainant and the site owner and/or host are in different countries? How would they make the court orders enforceable?

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  14. #14
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    Yeah copyright a funny thing we get DMCA's and our hand is forced by our providers. Even frivolous ones most users just comply rather than filing a counter claim. So I could look at a hosting competitor and file some claim some image is in violation and they'd probably end up taking it down or being shut off. It's unlikely they'd file any sort of counter claim.

    I've seen some interesting complaints recently though. We had someone email us demanding we take down a site which was providing a search feature for products. The user put in their name and it gave no results but had their name thus they wanted it to be taken down and threatened legal action. After it was pointed out amazon, google, yahoo, bing ect. ect. all could search via the users name and get results they lightened their stance and said they understood and would not pursue it further. They contacted us directly though I wonder what would happen if they sent a DMCA to our provider or our providers provider. Would someone have said the site must comply or would it had been dropped as ridiculous like we felt it was.
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  15. #15
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    But even with the full DMCA verbarge, it's still circumventing a proper legal process, through a court of law, and forcing the host to be Judge, Jury and executioner in legal matters of copyright ownership.
    I can only agree. It seems quite a bit idiotic to allow content to be taken down because someone complained, without the offending party having actually been proved guilty in a court of law. I mean, any schmuck can abuse this system easily, and it would then be on the hosting customer's shoulders to fight in court, to recuperate his eventual losses.

    And the host in the middle of all this, losing the customer's good will, just because the law is skewed.

    Then again, it sure is nice when a DMCA gets the results you wanted, and fast too.

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JWeb2 View Post
    This thread got my thinking of how I handle my abuse reports. I'm considering taking the stance of requiring a court order of some sort like suggested but I get them so frequently I don't know if it's worth the risk.
    Well, you run a free host right? Chances are high that the abuse reports are valid; I wouldn't bother requiring court order.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by vito View Post
    Sounds reasonable. But the complication I see is - what happens if the complainant and the site owner and/or host are in different countries? How would they make the court orders enforceable?
    Yep, that's true, but ICANN has a system for domain name disputes that works across different countries. But you've hit the nail on the head with folks living in different countries working on the global internet platform.

    It's getting to the point where I'm going to have to start charging $$ for resolving these copyright complaints. I spend hours working between multiple parties, towards a resolution, and my time aint free.

    If there's a internet copyright dispute resolution process, and through that process I as a host are directed to remove certain material or sites, then I have no problem enforcing that. But I do have an issue in shutting down a site because someone else complains about it, and I don't have the slightest clue about who owns what, in copyright matters.

    But on the up side two of my abuse cases have been resolved by the parties communicating with eachother and reaching an agreement. Amazing what a little communication can do.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ldcdc View Post
    I can only agree. It seems quite a bit idiotic to allow content to be taken down because someone complained, without the offending party having actually been proved guilty in a court of law. I mean, any schmuck can abuse this system easily, and it would then be on the hosting customer's shoulders to fight in court, to recuperate his eventual losses.
    I made this mistake back with HTTPme, in that I hastily shutdown a site that received an abuse complaint against it. It was a copyright issue and as soon as I shutdown the site, the site owner started making legal threats. I basically ignored them. The next day I receive an express mail letter from his solicitor demanding the site be put back online or I would be liable for damages. I put the site back online.

    So acting on a copyright complaint put me into hot water. So a host is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by daz07 View Post
    Well, you run a free host right? Chances are high that the abuse reports are valid; I wouldn't bother requiring court order.
    My thoughts exactly. I'm not saying my non-paying clients aren't as important as my paid clients, but my paid clients have a much higher expectation from us so I am more than willing to assist them in such matters. Then again I get more complaints about phishing sites than DCMA (although my last one was about a copyrighted image which got the account terminated because it appeared all of the images they were using were from other sites so instead of verifying each one or waiting for more complaints I just took the site down).
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spudstr View Post
    a "proper" DMCA is sent through the postal system/paper trail method. Email doesn't exactly hold up as being "served" with the papers.

    How many lawsuits do you know happen by being served through email?
    Hmm..can they send a postal mail to a host offshore? Or do they send it to the datacenter?

  22. #22
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    You aren't the judge nor the jury. I know for a fact in the US, a host is not responsible for information stored on a server by it's clients. I have personally won that battle in a court room when it came to wedding images and a local photographer.

    Unless they file the proper cease and desist order, it's all hot air. My response to anyone claiming to "sue me" for money is the same every time "I'll see you in court", and .0000000002% of the time it actually happens.

    I have been sued multiple times in reference content hosted on the internet, and it always ends up in my favor.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by emsjs1 View Post
    Hmm..can they send a postal mail to a host offshore? Or do they send it to the datacenter?

    If your filing a DMCA to a host in another country you have to follow that countries copyright laws. US laws apply to US companies. the US law does not step into or overpower other countries. However some countries may "honor" the law and allow you to file against them etc. Talk to your lawyer he will advise you best.

    Pretty much screwed in other words.

  24. #24
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    I forward the complaint to our client and then promptly forget about it. But you do have take action on a valid DMCA takedown request. It is pretty stupid that all you need to do to get content removed is sign a piece of paper. If you fail to take down content after you receive a DMCA complaint you can be sued along with the oerson who put it up.

    You're totally right that we as hosts have to act as Judge on Jury on a decision before it even gets to a real Judge and Jury. And if we decide to just let the real Judge and Jury settle it we as hosts run the risk of getting battered by said real Judge and Jury because we didn't act as an interim Judge and Jury.

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Bob View Post
    Ok, I'm getting sick of this. Seems to happening more and more frequent. I get an abuse email by the owner of one website claiming a site we host is using an image of theirs, without their consent. So they make all these threats against me, if I don't take down the offending site I'll be up for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and attorney fees. Blah blah blah.

    Why are webhosts being forced to be basically the Judge and Jury, and make legal decisions based on Copyright ownership, that circumvents any proper legal process? I don't mind enforcing a legal decision, if one party has taken another party to court, but why should I the webhost be the Judge and Jury?

    </rant>
    Just forward that request to your client. Wait for your clients response for 2-3 days. Generally the client will oblige.

    If the client replies back giving X reason that this claim is invalid, forward this response back to the complaining party. State that if the complaint replies to this email with any more unsupported facts and/or documents, you will bill them for administrative tasks. Everything will go silent here.

  26. #26
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    Just forward that request to your client. Wait for your clients response for 2-3 days. Generally the client will oblige.
    The DMCA talks about handling the issue expeditiously, and 2-3 days may be hard to argue as qualifying for the term. The host must act on the matter and take content down, there's no room left for debate. If you start to debate and put yourself in the middle as a judge of the worthiness of the complaint, you essentially forfeit your safe harbor. That's at least how I understood the DMCA last I checked into it.

    Other countries and their laws may be different, but for US providers the DMCA is what they have.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spudstr View Post
    a "proper" DMCA is sent through the postal system/paper trail method. Email doesn't exactly hold up as being "served" with the papers.
    Actually, DMCA statute allows for notices to be served via email, IIRC.
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  28. #28
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    What about warez boards that trade illegal warez, links to warez? some sites are obviously infringing copyright. Should we look the other way?

    These sites usually also have a very active market place to swap hacked verified Paypal accounts, virtual CC, stolen CC, stolen mail accounts (etcetera). And there are we, hosting providers, that complain on WHT about the large volumes of fraud orders while in the meantime we facilitate these people that make this possible and harbour them.

    In some obvious cases, we can and should be judge and jury. Fact is that the Internet requires its own electronic court - a fast one - where hosters can ask for a verdict on a site they host and got complaints about, certainly that would be ideal.
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by swiftnoc View Post
    What about warez boards that trade illegal warez, links to warez? some sites are obviously infringing copyright. Should we look the other way?

    These sites usually also have a very active market place to swap hacked verified Paypal accounts, virtual CC, stolen CC, stolen mail accounts (etcetera). And there are we, hosting providers, that complain on WHT about the large volumes of fraud orders while in the meantime we facilitate these people that make this possible and harbour them.

    In some obvious cases, we can and should be judge and jury. Fact is that the Internet requires its own electronic court - a fast one - where hosters can ask for a verdict on a site they host and got complaints about, certainly that would be ideal.
    Simply don't host those kind of websites And, if you do get a client who runs a warez, report him to the authorities. I don't see why we, as hosting companies, should play judge but it does cost us a lot of money and time at the end of the day. If you put your foot down upfront, then it's less hassles later on.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Bob View Post
    Why are webhosts being forced to be basically the Judge and Jury, and make legal decisions based on Copyright ownership, that circumvents any proper legal process? I don't mind enforcing a legal decision, if one party has taken another party to court, but why should I the webhost be the Judge and Jury?

    </rant>
    Why do you feel webhosts are being forced to be judge and jury? The DMCA (and corresponding acts internationally) was created for exactly this (and other) purpose - to stop ISPs being the judge, jury and to provide them with a safe harbour.

    1) You receive take down notice
    2) You block access to the content
    2a) If this the takedown notice was received illegitimately, it is not your fault if the takedown notice was in accord with the DMCA
    2b) You receive a counter-claim
    2c) You restore access
    2d) Claimant needs to go to court with it, if he feels that the counterclaim was filed illegitimately

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  31. #31
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    Why do you feel webhosts are being forced to be judge and jury?
    I would feel so, because it's too easy to be in the position where you block access to content based on a false claim, and because of that, law aside, you'll ruin the customer-host relationship. All because of some moron.

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