IPowerWeb.com: The Nuclear Option

As I reported recently, a site called 57storylane.com (link down) was hosting two of my poems underneath a different name. I tried to contact the owner of the site directly twice with no luck and opted instead to contact their host, iPowerWeb.

iPowerWeb is a Santa Monica, California- based full-service Web host with over 350,000 customers. They provide hosting, domain registration and marketing among other services.

Like most large Web hosts, such as ThePlanet, they have very strict requirements on how notices of copyright infringement are sent and they follow the DMCA to the letter of the law, perhaps more so than even Google. However, unlike most large hosts, their response time was quick and their communication was good. Though I was confused by some of their requirements, I was overall very pleased with how well they worked with me.

However, my concern with them has less to do with the speed of their response, but rather, the form that it came in. It seems that, for these guys, the only option is the nuclear one.

After sending in my DMCA notice to the address listed as the designated agent, I immediately received an automated reply with links to the information required in such a notice as well as other, more general, abuse information. A few hours later, I got a quick email from their general counsel saying that the matter was being looked into and would be handled in accordance with the DMCA. Within a day, the infringing works were down.

Unfortunately, so was the entire site.

Apparently, iPowerWeb can not disable access to infringing works without simply suspending the entire account. In the case of 57storylane.com, this meant that an entire site, complete with hundreds of pages of content from dozens of authors, was disabled due to one infringing author with two infringing works.

Granted, this site had a higher degree of responsibility since it accepted “submissions” from authors, reviewed them and posted them. This site was not simply a middle man like allpoetry.com or similar sites. Still most hosts are capable of disabling access to infringing works without terminating the entire site.

As someone who’s already uneasy enough about using DMCA notices, this kind of incident is pretty scary. Even though I know I’m not at fault for this (and the fact that the owners of the site have made no effort to restore access after 72 hours further proves that the owners are being negligent in their maintenance) but I still feel as if I should apologize to the other authors that might have been injured, even in a minor way.

I’m sorry that you had your works removed, but you need to seriously look into finding a better home for your material. There are plenty of places out there and there was just no reason to go with 57storylane anyway.

Regardless though, I view iPowerWeb as a solid citizen in the plagiarism war. They’re doing what’s required of them and taking the issue seriously.

Still, this raised a very interesting question regarding the effect of DMCA notices. For large hosts, is the nuclear option the only one? Not being very familiar with the network set up of such hosts, I’m seeking input in the matter. Is this something iPowerWeb is alone in or do other services have a similar problem.

Simply put, most of the domains I’ve dealt with, as few of them as there have been have been near-total losses with almost all of the content infringing. This is the first time I’ve seen a large volume of (apparently) legitimate content get removed with the infringing.

I’m seeking any input on this that is available.

[tags]Plagiarism, DMCA, Hosting, iPowerWeb, Content Theft, Copyright Law, Copyright[/tags]

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