Kevin Burton writes about his experience with SixApart, and it’s decision to force him to take down a post based on a false DMCA notice. I’m not about to start SixApart bashing (although it should be noted that Burton is now blogging at WordPress.com as a result of this), because I can’t help but feel a little sorry for SixApart in this situation, indeed for just about anyone out there who runs a hosting business in the United States, because the DMCA is a nightmare that seemingly will never end. SixApart, like any hosting company in this situation, are caught between a rock and a hard place, legally they have to enforce the DMCA take down notice until such time that a DMCA counter notice is issued, even when the take down notice, as it was in Kevin Burton’s case, is spurious at best. Of course, at least for those who have been following the whole DMCA Michael Crook saga across several blogs will know, this latest travesty is not that surprising, but it also goes to show that it’s only when good people stand up against wrong-doings, will the possibility of change then occur. Laughing Squid, to their credit, is one such hosting company. It’s a shame that SixApart didn’t stand up and be counted.
I’ve been on both ends of the DMCA, having sent out plenty of DMCA notices in a previous job, and have also been on the receiving end of them. The worst experience I had was with WebNX, who instead of forwarding on the claim, simply informed the company I was then working for that the post must be removed immediately or the entire hosting package (3 boxes and around 100 sites) would be cut off. We couldn’t even counter the notice, we never received it but instead were essentially forced to act by WebNX. I recently received a notice via my domain registrar, who said (I kid you not) that if I didn’t remove a post they would suspend my domain (for reference it was NameCheap). Again, no correspondence could be entered in to. For the benefits the DMCA brings in countering some spammers, the negatives far outweigh any of the good stuff. This is bad legislation that is easily abused. I’m not American, so I can’t make a difference, although I am seriously thinking about taking my hosting needs outside of the US because of the DMCA, and I know other people in the business who have already done so, after all, hosting anything in the US becomes a massive risk. To those of you in the US, particularly those who have been on the receiving end of the DMCA, I’d urge you to stand up and be counted. Write to your representatives, and get them to change the law. It might not make a difference now, but certainly as more and more sites are spuriously targeted, more and more business will be leaving America, as more and more companies choose to host offshore for safety.