Has your website been taken down by your hosting company? If you are panicking, take a deep breath and read on regarding what to do to cure the problem.
Read, Read, Read
The first thing to do is to read the message you received from the hosting company. In most cases, your website is taken down because the DMCA agent service for the hosting company received a complaint in relation to it. The laws acting as the basis for such a take down also typically require you to be notified of the reason for the move.
Didn’t receive a message from the hosting company? Check your account. Many people, including myself, use multiple email addresses. You may have listed an older one when opening the account. If so, the message will be located in the inbox for the email.
Copyright complaints are the number one reason websites are taken down by hosting companies. The law in question is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, better known as the DMCA.
The DMCA provides hosting companies with immunity from liability for copyright infringement if they follow a certain process. Part of the process is to take down any content for which the hosting company receives a copyright infringement complaint. Most hosts respond by taking down the entire site.
What do you do when this occurs? The first thing to understand is calling and yelling at some representative for the host is only going to compound your problems. Remember, the host automatically removes the site as part of the compliance process. There is no judgment involved in determining whether the claim has merits or you have a good argument. It does not matter.
So, what can you do? The first thing is to conduct an analysis of the complaint in relation to copyright laws. Are you violating copyright or not? This legal determination needs to be made. If you are not infringing, moves can be taken to force the host to republish the site.
Trademarks are another form of intellectual property. If a company believes you are infringing upon their trademark, they will usually send you a cease and desist letter. If they cannot locate you, they may just go after your host. For $15 a month or whatever your plan costs, you can bet the hosting company isn’t going to fight on your behalf! Regardless, the exact complaint needs to be looked into and then evaluated from a legal perspective.
Violating Terms of Host
Hosting companies will often take down websites if they determine the site violates their terms. The specific scenario depends on the terms and conditions offered up by the hosting company. Still, there are certain situations that arise time and again.
The first scenario involves the subject matter of the site. If you launch a site and publish something the host does not allow, then your site will be yanked. For example, posting a site with porn on it might not be allowed by certain mainstream hosting companies. Make sure you understand what the host allows before you put up a site with anything questionable.
The second scenario involves how you generate traffic to the site. If you go out and spam a million email addresses with advertisements, your site is going to be taken down quickly. It is the rare hosting company that allows spamming. There are certain firms that do allow email marketing, but you need to make sure the one you are with is going to allow it.
You’ve watched endless television shows and movies involving legal proceedings. What is the one thing every defendant is told when arrested? “Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.”
This applies to your communications to hosting companies and other parties. When you send an email, form submission, or instant message, you are creating a record of your statements that can be used in court against you. Keep this in mind when writing any messages.
If your website has been taken down by a hosting company, feel free to contact me to discuss the situation so you can get it back up and online as quick as possible.
Richard A. Chapo, Esq.