Part 2: DreamHost, the DMCA, and You… It’s Not Personal!

If you missed Part One of this series, check it out here!

Our actions are not meant to imply that we “believe” the complaining party; they’re just a defensive action to protect ourselves from liability. This is merely what the law allows us to do.

Upon taking the alleged infringing content offline, we immediately write the customer, informing them about the complaint we received and actions we took. That message contains detailed instructions for what the customer can do to address the issue if they think the notice of infringement is incorrect or inaccurate.

How To Deal With It

The important thing to remember is this: carefully read the message we send you about our actions. Also, refrain from putting the alleged infringing content back online unless you submit a proper counter-notice, and have waited for between 10 and 14 days for the complaining party (who will be sent your counter-notice) to notify us, and you, that they are suing you for infringement. If they don’t contact us within this time, and you’re willing to assume any risk that they will sue you after you putting the content back online, then you can put the content back online. If they do notify us (or you) that they have sued you, you cannot put the contents back online. Doing so (or doing so before the waiting period passes) is a violation of our Terms of Service that will result in the termination of your hosting account. Filing a counter-notice doesn’t release you from any liability if any actual infringement occurred, and you could be sued for copyright violations by the copyright holder whether or not you leave the content offline.

In cases where we only removed small pieces of content, you need do nothing at all unless you intend to file a counter-notice, or wish to edit your site to cover any missing content deleted. In instances where your entire site was disabled to take the alleged infringing content offline, you’ll likely want to remove the alleged infringing content so you can put the rest of the site back up quickly.

If you have questions about the notice you receive, simply reply to it and our Abuse staff will respond with answers!

Does This Seem Unfair?

It’s rare that anything is considered to be completely fair for all parties concerned and the DMCA takedown process can seem to favor the complainant over the publisher (at least in the early stages of dealing with the complaint). It’s true that if a complainant is willing to perjure themselves, then they can file a false notice of infringement. And if the notice is properly formatted and contains all elements required by law, the content will initially be taken down.

There is recourse for the customer/publisher, since they can file civil actions for damages in such cases, and this is designed to keep the complaining parties honest (though it does not always do so – see http://dreamhost.com/dreamscape/2007/03/15/dealing-with-a-dmca-crook/).

The fact is, although the DMCA isn’t perfect, it is part of Internet life and cannot be avoided. One advantage the law brings to the Internet community is that the protection it affords service providers is absolutely necessary to keep web-hosting services affordable and available. The costs of defending against copyright infringement suits for content published by customers would raise the cost of providing hosting services to the general public. Whether this aspect of the DMCA is a “good thing” depends on how you view the tradeoffs involved, but until/unless the law evolves, it’s something we all have to live with.

For more information about the DMCA and your rights, and responsibilities, as a publisher of content on DreamHost and the Internet, check out these links:

http://abuse.dreamhost.com/copyright/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dmca

http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/