The DMCA on 7 Domain Hosts

For the next chapter of the “DMCA Seven” series, we take a look at a different kind of hosts, domain hosts.

These differ from most of the other hosts we’ve covered in that they are not free services, but rather, paid hosts that earn monthly or yearly fees from their subscribers.

Despite the apparent conflict of interest, these were also the hosts that the notice and takedown provisions of the DMCA were largely targeted at. However, what remains to be seen is exactly if and how they have implimented the DMCA on their sites and if they are taking advantage of the protections the law provides them.

To find out for ourselves, let’s take a look at the DMCA policies of seven of the largest and best-known domain hosts.

goaddady.png

Format: Email
Email Address: CopyrightClaims at godaddy dot com (or wildwestdomains dot com)
Location of Policy: Trademark and/or Copyright Infringement Policy
Registered with USCO: Yes and Yes
Comments: On paper, Godaddy, along with its sister company Wild West Domains, is the largest Web host in the world. Between sites hosted/parked at GoDaddy and companies that resell services from Wild West Domains, they make up an estimated 14% of the entire hosting market. With so many sites on their servers, their DMCA policy is of critical imortance. Fortunately, it is fairly solid. Both sites display it as a single link off of their “legal” pages and the policies, which are almost identical, have all of the needed information for filing both a notice and a counternotice as well as a simple but effective policy on repeat infringers. Other than some minor inconsistencies between the email for Wild West Domains when comparing their site and their USCO registration, the policies are very strong and, in my experience, seem to be enforced very well.
Grade: B

enom.png

Format: Email
Email Address: copyright at demandmedia dot com
Location of Policy: Copyright Policy
Registered with USCO: Yes
Comments: Short, sweet but complete is how I would describe Enom’s policy. Though you have to click through their terms of use to find the policy, it does have its own page and it has all of the required information to file a notice with them. However, there is no mention of a counter-notice, which is a minor quibble over all. The information is consistent between the the Web site and the USCO filing, which was updated earlier this year. They certainly don’t go far out of the way to help with copyright issues but do a good job following the law and making the information available.
Grade: B-

yahoo.png

Format: Email
Email Address: copyright at yahoo-inc dot com
Location of Policy: Yahoo’s Copyright and IP Policy
Registered with USCO: Yes
Comments: Popular with small businesses, Yahoo’s Web hosting service has a solid reputation among its users and an equally solid DMCA policy. Their copyright policy is linked at the footer of nearly every page under Yahoo’s control and is very robust, though still short and easy to read. They have a great reputation for acting on such complaints and, all in all, are one of the most compliant companies out there. They could easily set the bar for other companies in this field, as they already have for photo sharing services.
Grade: B

netsol.png

Format: Email
Email Address: dmca at networksolutions dot com
Location of Policy: Legal Notice and DMCA Claims
Registered with USCO: Yes
Comments: The oldest domain registrar already has a site that is tough to navigate, but finding the copyright policy on it might be a nearly impossible task. Located at the top of the footer in dark gray on gray type, it is easy to overlook the “Legal Documents” link of one isn’t paying close attention. Once you get there, the actual DMCA policy is buried underneath information about their own copyrights, patent issues and trademark information related to the company itself. Once you actually find the policy, you see that it is fairly complete but the phone information does not match what is in the USCO database. Also, the USCO form has not been updated since 2004 and, thus, doesn’t have an email address listed. Fortunately, Network Solution’s site does provide the email above. All in all, the policy seems to follow the law, but the trickery on the link itself how buried the policy is leads me to think that this site really doesn’t want people visiting that page, even if they have a legitimate need to.
Grade: C-

1and1.png

Format: Email
Email Address: Legal at 1and1 dot com
Location of Policy: Subpeona and Copyright Policy
Registered with USCO: Yes
Comments: The location of this policy boggles the mind. If you visit their terms and conditions page, you won’t find any mention of the DMCA in their 24 part TOS. If you look at the table of contents to the left of the header, you won’t see any mention of copyright at all. Instead, the policy is located in their “Subpoena Policy” link, which is mind-blowing considering a DMCA has nothing to do with a subpoena. Once you find the policy at the bottom of that page, you’ll find that it is fairly complete, though missing counter notice information, and has everything that’s needed. It also matches up well with the information on file with the USCO and all information points to an outside law firm to handle all of these notices. Overall, the policy itself is bare bones but compliant. However, the shell game that’s played with finding it makes me wish I had another grade between C- and D+.
Grade: C-

dreamhost.png

Format: Email
Email Address: abuse at dreamhost dot com
Location of Policy: Copyright Infringement
Registered with USCO: Yes
Comments: Dreamhost is a company that has found itself at the center of a DMCA controversy before. Its policy is a sharp reflection of that and it makes their policy hard to grade. To find their policy you have to first find the link to their abuse center in their terms of service. From there you visit their Copyright Infringement page and scroll to the bottom for information about filing a DMCA notice. Unfortunately, their policy is woefully incomplete. There is no information about how to file a notice, just a strong recommendation to contact a lawyer. The entire policy seems written solely to intimidate people away from filing notices, even if they have a legitimate complaint, and comes complete with a picture of Michael Crook. There is no contact information for the DMCA agent other than the email, which is repeated on the contact page and, since Section 512(c)(2) requires that the host make available on its site “the name, address, phone number, and electronic mail address of the agent” there are serious legal issues with this policy. Despite these concerns, I am still very pleased with how they have handled things on the backend, unfortunately, this review only deals with the frontend and how useful a relative layperson would find the site.
Grade: D

ipowerweb.png

Format: Email
Email Address: legal at ipowerweb dot com
Location of Policy: DMCA Policy
Registered with USCO: Yes
Comments: iPowerWeb is a site that has been widely criticized for how it handles DMCA notices. I’ve received reports of sites going down on the service without iPowerWeb forwarding on the information to the customer, making it impossible to file a counternotice. However, their written policy is, by itself at least, very solid. It gets its own page under the terms and conditions and has all of the information needed to file a notice and a counternotice as well we information on repeat infringers and the dangers of filing a false notice. It is not the easiest policy to find, but it gets the job done. Though I have never had a problem with iPowerWeb taking down infringing works, I worry about their customers and hope that they are being treated better today than they have been in the past.
Grade: C+

Conclusions

My overall impression of these sites can be summed up in one word: mediocre.

All of the sites above fell in the B to D range, none really are doing anything exceptional in this area to be proactive and throw their support behind this issue. However, none truly fall flat on their face either.

All of the polices, with the exception of Dreamhost, are about what you would expect from large hosting firms, lawyer-written, bare bones and to the letter of the law while going no farther than needed.

There were no major surprises, pleasant or unpleasant here. All in all, these sites are just businesses trying to follow the law. Though it would be nice to see more cooperation and forward thinking, these hosts have less motivation to do so than YouTube and other hosts that are under constant copyright fire.

In general, expect cooperation but don’t expect any helping hands.

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