The shit hits the fan?
|Hosting provider ServerBeach recently received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violation notice from Pearson, the well-known educational publishing company. The notice pertained to Edublogs, which hosts 1.45 million education-related blogs with ServerBeach, and it focused on a single Edublogs page from 2007 that contained a questionnaire copyrighted by Pearson. ServerBeach informed Edublogs about the alleged violation, and Edublogs says it quickly took down the allegedly infringing content.
Instead of calling the matter settled, though, ServerBeach took Edublogs' servers offline last Wednesday, temporarily shutting off all 1.45 million blogs. ServerBeach confirms taking all of the Edublogs offline, and before they brought them back online they needed to confirm the compliance with the DMCA takedown request. As you might expect, ServerBeach and Edublogs have slightly different accounts of how it all happened.
Edublogs pays $6,954.37 to ServerBeach each month for hosting, and it was delighted with the company's service—until last week. Edublogs founder and CEO James Farmer wrote that he was stunned at "how quickly and proactively ServerBeach responded to Pearson's lawyers, as opposed to how they deal with one of their better customers (we've been with them for years and years, ok we're no WordPress.com, but $75k+ [per year] has to count for something right?)." Farmer says.
With Edublogs being based in Australia and ServerBeach based in the US, the time difference led to some middle-of-the-night fireworks at Edublogs. "Basically our sysadmin
|and CTO watched, in horror, live as our web servers were shut down and then we spent the next hour emailing, calling, and generally freaking out (it was around 3 AM for me) and through that we were able to get back up," Farmer says. "If they hadn't been there, and we hadn't done that, the shutdown would have been indefinite!"
Although Edublogs as a whole is back online, the particular blog that kicked off this mess has been marked as spam and is unavailable. In his blog, Farmer explained
|that the infringing material from 2007 was a reprint of "Beck's Hopelessness Scale," a 20-item self-evaluation questionnaire published in 1974 which Pearson sells for $120. The teacher who wrote that blog post apparently uploaded the questionnaire as a file to Edublogs' servers.
After Edublogs was informed of the problem by ServerBeach, the company "figured that whether or not we liked it, Pearson was probably correct about it," Farmer wrote. Edublogs thus took the appropriate action to make sure "the content was no longer available, and informed ServerBeach."
However, ServerBeach noticed that Edublogs still had the file in its web server cache, and so it pulled the entire site offline even though the file in question was no longer easily accessible to the public. The shutdown came, Farmer said, less than 12 hours after ServerBeach provided Edublogs with the DMCA notice shown on the right:
| The practice described above is not an exception. It is just one of many examples. Edublogs is not exactly a "rogue site" when it comes to copyright violations. Yet its hosting provider took down entire servers containing a million and a half blogs over an alleged copyright violation on just one page.
The lesson learned here is that wherever you host your servers, if you do not want to find yourself in a similar situation, move to a neutral hosting provider who values customer relationships more than predatory and questionable laws. CyberBunker will not take your servers offline under any suitation and certainly not because of the DMCA.