Elitehost.net – What a Clueless Hosting Company

Daniel

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Last weekend I was doing some copyright infringement control on Daily Blog Tips, basically looking for people ripping off my content, and contacting the owners of those sites or, when their contact detail was not available, contacting the hosting company directly.

At one point I found a guy that had copied my 43 Web Design Mistakes You Should Avoid integrally. He did mention that the article was coming from Daily Blog Tips, but as you probably know, merely crediting the author does not give one the right to republish the material. There was no contact details on the site, so I identified the hosting company and contacted them.

The hosting was called EliteHost.net. Upon hitting the “Contact” link I saw a 404 error page. Hmm, not a good start. I tried to find some other contact information, but the only one available was the customer support, so I went for that anyway and sent a DMCA notification.

Some time later I got a reply, and it said something along these lines (not the actual text, because emails are also subject to copyright laws, so I will express it with my own words):

“Unfortunately we are just the hosting company, and we don’t own the website or the content you are claiming to be infringing on your copyrights. You should therefore contact the owner of the content and try to settle the matter with him. Going after the hosting company is useless.”

When I read that I realized these guys had no clue about what they were talking about. The DMCA clearly specifies on Section 202(c) that a service provider will also become liable unless upon notification of claimed infringement as described in paragraph (3), responds expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity. You can download the complete DMCA text here (pdf link).

Now how could a hosting company be unaware of this I am not sure. Anyway, I decided to try again, so I replied to their email explaining that they could become liable as well even for just hosting the copyright infringement.

Some time later I got another reply, even more shocking than the first one. It said something like:

“We don’t care about whatever copyright act you are talking about, we will need to get our attorneys to review this. You don’t have anything better to do than going around bullying people? Are you a recent graduated lawyer or something that likes to harass people? Things can get worse here if you insist.”

At this point I started to get pissed off. I publish content on this blog for a living (and for passion, but still). When someone rips off my content, he is hurting my business. Now, if apart from a content thief I also need to face a dumb hosting company that does not treat copyright infringement issues seriously, then things start to go down hill.

But I don’t like threatening people or anything, so I just sent another polite email confirming that I was claiming a copyright infringement, and that I was waiting a reply from them.

Then I got another pearl of wisdom from Elitehost.net on the following day:

“We looked into the issue, and we discovered that the website contains a link to your original material, so we don’t see a copyright infringement here. We talked with the owner of the website and we arrived to this conclusion. Additionally, we talked to our attorneys and they said you should stop emailing us and wasting our time.”

At this point my only thought was: You’ve got be kidding me?

Not only these guys had no clue about what the DMCA is, but they also thought that using a link to credit the original material was enough to avoid any copyright infringement issues. There was one guy ripping off my content, and the hosting company thought the kid was playing by the rules….

After some time the owner of the website removed the content anyway, because I think he realized what was going on. But if it was for the hosting company alone I am not sure what distance we would need to have gone before solving the problem.

Apart from the rant, there are some points to take home here. If you are a web publisher, do know your rights, and don’t get frightened by the first negative response you might get. Remember also that hosting companies might become liable if they don’t remove or block access to the violating content after you notify them about it.

Ah, and keep an eye for the brilliant folks over at EliteHost.net as well. Way to go as a hosting company…

Thanks to friends Steve Imparl and Jonathan Bailey who helped me out.

Update: Today the CEO of this company contacted me via IM and we chatted a bit. Basically it looks like this was a single employee incident, and he is already proceeding to fire the clueless guy. So perhaps the whole company is not to be blamed.

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74 Responses to “Elitehost.net – What a Clueless Hosting Company”

  • Patrix

    If you want to read the biggest WTF story regarding content theft, check out this post. It is an email exchange between a blogger and the plagiarizing site. It is a tad long but as it progresses it gets weirder and weirder and to think, the offending party considers itself to be one of India’s primary portal (they are not). The Indian blogosphere is up in arms and is furiously linking to the story bringing to light clearly criminal activities of intimidation and blackmail.

  • SEO Genius

    Although this article is not primarily to educate people the point is clear and is a great point to make. Too many people are developing websites and “running their own hosting companies” with out having a clue about copyright laws, or any other laws for that matter. I have to admit personally i do not know that many laws when it comes to copyright infringement and other acts on the internet, and i am sure many people who read this blog do not either.

    I think this needs to be stated clearer so that people do not make these mistakes.

    Great article Daniel, glad you shared it with us.

  • Muscle Post

    That’s a pretty funny story. I’m guessing by “talking to their lawyers” they meant that they talked amongst themselves and thought they came up with a logical answer. Which they did not. Definitely demonstrates why some companies fail and others prosper.

  • Helen Copy911

    Daniel, thank you for sharing your experience: though the legal issues of copywriting were studied inside out on the Web, many writers are still unaware of DMCA and how to use it, and some comments here prove it. The more posts like this, the better.

    As for Elitehost.net… I really enjoyed their letters to you – although they must be written by “undergraduate” lawyers, lol 🙂

  • Todd Andrews

    Just another example of why I always have my clients purchase one of the biggest/best hosting providers. There are way too many of these small time hosts.

  • Rajaie AlKorani

    Hopefully this will make people think twice before approaching Elitehost.net

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Daniel Nowak, I think before judging what is childish and what is not you should consider all that is going on.

    You probably know that Google penalizes duplicate on the web right? Daily Blog Tips gets scraped heavily. Partly from people that just want to make a quick buck with their sites, partly from legitimate bloggers that don’t know that by copying 100% of my content, even if with credit, they are harming me anyway.

    A couple of weeks ago one of my sites in fact received a small penalty from Google, and I believe it has something to do with the amount of scraping and duplicate content that I had going on.

    So now you can see that, despite the intentions of people that use my articles around, I can’t allow people to republish my stuff at will.

    When those people have a contact information on their websites, I am all for contacting them privately and friendly to let them know about the issue.

    Most of the times, however, those scraping sites have no contact information whatsover. they just republish my articles with some adsense units around it.

    Now considering all that, you think I should be flattered?

    Hmm, not sure 🙂 .

  • Lars Koudal

    Hi, I found your site when researching a blog I wanted to post about on my own blog. I was curious as to how he filled up his blog with hundreds of posts, and his earliest blog entry was from the 2nd of June this year.

    Take a look at this blog: http:// blogtut.com/ (Space added as not to give link to the blog itself).

  • Joe

    @D.Nowak – The thief was not just linking to the article here. If you haven’t yet, just google the original article title to find the culprit.

    The thief posted the entire list verbatim. That’s copyright infringement.

    It isn’t flattering, it’s theft. Period.

    (And Google will show you another clown that did the same thing… but then added a few extras to the list and from my quick read didn’t even bother to cite the source here)

  • Daniel Nowak

    Daniel I am sorry I think your actions were childish. The author was linking to your article. He was not claiming credit for your work. You should be flattered and not sending DMCA letters.

    The problem with the DMCA is that most hosting providers are not prepared to deal with letters appropriately, as you saw in this case. Unfortunately other companies take the other approach and over react to DMCA letters. Many host will simply take down any content when a DMCA letter is sent regardless of who is the rightful copyright holder.

    Again I agree that you have the right to run your business in anyway you like. You have the legal right to send off DMCA letters for frivolous things. But it is my hope that your business suffers for it.

  • Ali from TheOfficeDiet
  • webhosting guide

    isn’t the copyrighth law depends from country to country? like in belgium here you will have atomaticly have the righths of something you created but i know that is not aplicable in all country’s.

    and david i thought normally it was enough for a host to make contact with the owner of the site. But on wich way is he liable? i’m very curious about this

    grtz

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Joe, yeah I saw LiquidWeb behind them, but again I am not sure of what laws govern the reselling business. I need to confirm first.

  • Save, You Fool!

    Daniel-

    I didn’t realize until reading till the end that the title was meant to be sarcastic. Perhaps changing to a more obvious title would prevent someone just looking at the title and thinking this host is probably good. Just a thought.

  • Codrut Turcanu dot com

    # Razide, I have no clue why are you still on this blog anyway. You’re just playing with blogging, or what?

    A few folks including myself and Daniel take this seriously and fooling around with clueless companies like Elitehost is not fun.

    I bet these folks have no clue about Internet business, otherwise they’d have got a *.com name, not *.net, plus handle their e-mails like pros.

    They are some (adult) kids reselling stuff online in my opinion.

  • Meraj Khattak

    Excellent piece of information. Thanks for sharing Daniel.

    The day we started our company blog, on the first day we saw that some one copied a whole post from our blog and posted on their site :(.

    You have showed a good way to deal with such websites.

  • Joe

    EliteHost is a virtual host at Liquidweb.com – so send your DMCA there and include the relevant correspondence you had with EliteHost.

    Oh and Daniel, it’s easily a multi-BILLION dollar a year industry. Blogs are just a small portion of what encompasses “web publishing”. Anyone who thinks web publishing isn’t a real job need only look at huge financial successes like Drudge, Fark, Engadget, Slashdot etc et al to be quickly disabused of that notion.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Razide, web publishing is not a real job?

    As far as I know its a million dollar industry, and it is growing faster than any other sector.

    And what would your definition of real job be: Some company where you go from 9 to 5, where they tell you what to do and even what to wear?

    I think I will pass, I prefer to work from my notebook, wearing some shorts and sandals on a tropical beach 🙂 .

  • Razide

    Man, get a real job, what’s worth for living!

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Dean, a paragraph or two would qualify as “fair use” most of the times. So that is fine.

    Yes the content you write is automatically copyrighted at the time you publish it in a material form. With Creative Commons, depending on the license you choose, you will retain some of the rights but not all of them.

  • David Airey

    The power of word-of-mouth testimonials. Great marketing eh?

  • Dean

    Nice one, Daniel. Elitehost learned something from this experience, I reckon — don’t mess with the bull, you’ll get the horns. Oh, and the fact that the DMCA exists.

    Daniel, say for example one were to quote a paragraph or two from DBT and gave clear credit to you as the author of the work. That wouldn’t be copyright infringement, would it?

    I currently license my content through Creative Commons licensing. Is the content I write automatically copyrighted by me, or do I have to file something with some office to copyright my content?

    I’m next to clueless regarding this copyrights thing, and it’d be great if any of you guys can help me out. thanks!

  • Justin – Web Development Blog

    @Ruchir,

    I simple whois lookup revealed that EliteHost.com (the domain) is registered through GoDaddy so that could have been the next course of action as GoDaddy seem to have no problem shutting down sites when given DMCA notices.

    Secondly the IP resolves to the US so the DMCA does apply to them. Wouln’t be surprised if they were just reselling hosting through GoDaddy.

  • Melvin

    my goodness! If that was done to me then I might probably have looked at their address and go to their location with a policeman and bring the section 202 of DMCA.. wtf, they don’t even know how to respect!

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Ruchis, most western countries have treaties with the U.S., so some laws should extend oversees.

    Even if you don’t have the DMCA on your country I am pretty sure that the legislation should protect your copyrights in one way or another.

  • Ruchir Chawdhry

    “If you are a web publisher, do know your rights”

    Yeah, but sadly the DMCA only works for sites that are hosted in the US.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Sue, yes I also got that impression.

    I am not sure if the umbrella company is liable for the actions of resellers though. I will ask my attorney friends about it.

  • Sue

    Ah, EliteHost sounds like one of those kiddie sites. Unfortunately, any kid (literally) can get reseller hosting and resell webspace.
    Your best bet is to look up their upstream provider, in other words, EliteHost’s host.

    Clueless kids. Perhaps a real letter from a real attorney sent to mommy and daddy will change things.

  • Robin

    Thanks for sharing with us Daniel.

  • Glen Allsopp

    Great example of a company not knowing what to do. I bet they don’t even have attorneys, so many people set-up web hosting “businesses” thinking they are going to strike it rich.

Comments are closed.