GoDaddy Outage: Dangers of Domain Name Registration and Hosting

By | Internet Lawyer | No Comments

When website hosting at GoDaddy went out for six hours, site owners were ticked off. Whether caused by tech gremlins or hackers, there’s a bigger point that needs to be made for business website owners…
Never have your website hosted by the same company where your site’s domain name is registered.
If your site goes down for any reason (hacking, IT problems, copyright infringement claims, etc.), it’s a lot harder to go live again if your website’s domain name is registered with the same company that hosts your content. You’re at the mercy of one company that’s probably being swamped with client support calls if there’s a mass web hosting outage.
Instead, use separate companies to register your domains and host the content for the related sites. If your content goes down, you should be able to quickly point the domain name to new servers at an alternative host.
In other words, don’t put your domain name registrations and website hosting in one basket of risk.
As a final note, let me say that I generally like and have used GoDaddy as a registrar. Other than the GoDaddy’s dumb initial support of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that it retracted, GoDaddy is a pretty decent company. But like its competing hosts and domain registrars, you should seriously consider picking them to do one thing for you and finding another company to handle the other.

Internet Blacklisting: Copyright Protection or Censorship?

By | Intellectual Property | No Comments

The United Kingdom’s High Court is ordering ISPs there to block access to copyright infringer The Pirate Bay. This UK decision is the latest by a string of countries to ban the site best known for providing access to bootleg copies of movies and music via BitTorrent.

But let’s face it. The same person who is going to use BitTorrent to pirate content has the tech skills to use proxy servers and other means to access what they want. It’s the typical Web user who is now faces censorship through Internet blacklisting even when that person has never engaged in copyright infringement.

This is a slippery slope for any nation to take when it comes to cyberspace. As we’ve seen in the offline world, when the government decides what’s best for you, you lose your rights as an individual to do just about anything — choosing your own doctor, driving a vehicle with low gas mileage, owning a gun, etc.

For the government who blacklists someone else’s site today, can come up with a “good” reason to blacklist yours tomorrow.

Liability Risks For Businesses That Provide Free Wi-Fi to Customers

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What have companies done to increase business?

In an increasingly online world, many companies throughout the country have enticed clients into doing business by offering free internet access.

For example, coffee shops, automotive repair centers, and restaurants have all considered it economically advantageous to offer clients access to the internet as a means of getting them to purchase goods. This setup has benefitted both businesses, who don’t mind paying for the internet if it means an increase in traffic to their stores, and consumers, who now can access the internet for free in a variety of different stores. However, with new changes in regulations affecting the internet, businesses might implement stronger security controls over their internet networks.

Why has providing internet access to clients caused problems for businesses?

On July 6, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) announced their plan to cut down on piracy over the internet. Through an agreement with internet service providers like AT&T and Verizon, suspected internet pirates will be sent a sequence of five messages which encourage the suspects to cease and desist suspicious conduct. If illegal conduct continues, internet service providers have agreed to slow internet speeds, or even remove a person’s access from the internet unless change occurs.

Given the risky nature of downloading illegal content over the internet, internet pirates have incentive to use the free internet access provided to them by numerous companies courting their business. By doing so, pirates can more easily evade punishments internet service providers, the RIAA and the MPAA wish to impose. Businesses however, can suffer fines up to $150,000 if they are found vicarious or contributing to illegal content being downloaded through their internet connections.

What can businesses do to protect themselves?

Since businesses are liable if they find out about illegal downloads taking place through their business and do nothing to stop those downloads, businesses should immediately report suspicious activities conducted over through their internet connections. Other actions such as posting signs, and verbally indicating to clients disapproval for illegal downloading could deter individuals from questionable activities. Businesses can also use password protection technology to deter unwanted individuals from secretly using a company’s internet access without that company’s consent.

Other options such as censoring internet access to sites suspected of illegal piracy could further bolster businesses ability to combat internet piracy on over their own networks. Though none of these protections are perfect, perhaps they can help the RIAA and the MPAA prevent internet piracy while allowing businesses to avoid the serious legal consequences possible if individuals download illegally through their networks.

Copyright Infringement Liability and Your IP Address

By | Intellectual Property, Internet Lawyer | No Comments

Are people held accountable for everything that happens at their IP address including copyright infringement?

For the several years the internet has served an active role in people’s lives, controversy has existed about whether or not individuals maintain responsibility for everything that happens at their IP address, such as copyright infringement.

As prosecutors, mainstream media companies, and the adult film industry all have an interest in preventing copyright infringement or illegal actions taken over the internet, controversy exists about whether their analysis of a person’s IP address is sufficient to establish liability. For example, when elderly grandmothers face liability for child pornography reported as accessed by the grandmother’s IP address, many question whether the IP address alone tells the full story about the content and its viewers. Concerns particularly have arisen regarding the ability companies and prosecutors have to obtain IP address information, and then file suits against owners of the addresses.

How do companies and prosecutors gain information about individuals’ IP addresses for copyright infringement cases?

Typically, companies hire law firms or others to monitor sites where illegal activities prevail. Sites such as BitTorrent, where copyright violations thrive, receive particular scrutiny and provide companies with an opportunity to examine illegal content and determine which IP address accesses that illegal information. Once a particular IP address displays illegal activity, the observing law firms can then subpoena internet service providers like AT&T to provide the identity and physical address the owners of each IP address.

Once a law firm knows the identity of an individual whose IP address has registered copyright infringement or other illegal activities, a suit or prosecutor can take place. Typically criminal matters such as the downloading of child pornography require additional evidence of criminality for a conviction to take place. In civil matters, however, alleged internet pirates essentially have to prove themselves innocent by suggesting alternate ways in which the illegal activity could have occurred.

What problems exist when holding people accountable for copyright infringement and other illegal actions that happens at their IP address?

Oftentimes, IP addresses do not adequately indicate which specific individual has committed illegal actions. Though IP address give plaintiffs and prosecutors a big clue as to which computer or network has committed the violation, pinning that liability on a particular individual comes under some controversy. Situations could, and almost certainly do exist, where an individual who owns an IP address was not the specific individual who committed any illegal internet activities.

For example, many people share computers in networks with other individuals. In such a situation, it would be unfair to pin liability on a specific IP address owner regardless of any other information indicating his or her guilt. Other situations such as computers without password protection, and computer networks that can be hacked into or otherwise used by outside individuals make pinning copyright infringement liability on a specific IP address holder questionable to many.

Canada Lawful Access Bill and Internet Spying

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canada lawful access bill

Will the Canada Lawful Access bill hurt online privacy?

What does the Canada Lawful Access bill propose to do?

Canada’s Conservative political party asserted that it wants to pass a Canada Lawful Access bill, which it claims will crack down on crime. For almost 10 years, there have been failed attempts to pass such a bill but this time there’s a good chance of enacting it into law.

If adopted, the Canada Lawful Access bill would require internet service providers (ISPs) to invest in technologies which would make the real time observation of users’ internet communications possible. Further, ‘Lawful Access’ would mandate internet service providers to provide data to law enforcement officials, regardless of whether or not a warrant was attained, if law enforcement officials claim that a threat to security necessitates their oversight of the internet.

Though intended to decrease criminals’ ability to communicate with one another, many Canadians worry the Canada Lawful Access bill would both give law enforcement a dangerous power with little oversight, and that the cost of developing technologies to monitor users would cost internet service providers a good deal of money.

What are the civil rights concerns about the Canada Lawful Access bill?

Privacy rights activists complain that the Canada Lawful Access bill would have dangerous results if actually implemented into law. For example, the Canadian government would be able to view internet dialogues with basically no restraint whatsoever. Since the law would not require law enforcement officials to get a warrant before searching the personal data of private individuals, many worry the government would take advantage of the information and a subsequent diminishing of individual privacy would result.

Those in favor of the legislation claim the price of safety from criminals warrants individuals to tolerate occasional intrusions into their personal privacy, but many still disagree. Some Canadian privacy rights advocates contend that no crimes have evaded justice yet because of law enforcement officials’ lack of ability to access private internet communications. Of course, it’s difficult to support or rebut such a contention without evidence.

What are the financial concerns about the Canada Lawful Access bill?

If passed, the Canada Lawful Access bill could also impose a burden on internet service providers and force some smaller internet service providers out of business. The law would require internet service providers to purchase technology to monitor activity on websites accessed by their clients. Many large internet service providers would not be put out of business, but some smaller internet service providers, unable to pay for the new technologies, could suffer.

Perhaps, however, internet service providers that do survive the financial results to follow implementation of the bill would pass the cost of the technology off to consumers. This could result in a de facto tax on the Canadian people who, unbeknownst to them, must pay a higher price for internet services. Intended to cut down on crime, the Canada Lawful Access bill might just suffer a vigorous battle and massive civil disobedience if implemented.