My story has two purposes. For one, I’d like to find some Dreamhost reps that agree with me and let me do what I need, and for two if that doesn’t happen I want to warn prospective customers about Dreamhost’s sometimes finicky nature.

For a little background, I’m a college kid (but not for long). I graduate in May with two degrees, a BS in Computer Engineering, a BS in Electrical Engineering, with minors in Math, Computer Science, and Physics. I know a decent amount about computers, but I won’t pretend to know everything about shared web hosts.

I’ve been on the web for a long time. Something like 10 years now I think. When I found Dreamhost I thought wow! Tons of storage, tons of features, so much freedom! Since that time about 2 or 3 years ago, I’ve helped many people sign up, all of whom also love it here. I love it here, I’m not going to lie. Until two months ago.

Aside from being a hobby-host and hosting small business websites from my area, family, and friends, I’m also a Disc Jockey. I make next to nothing from all of my web ventures, but the DJing has put me through school with no loans or debt of any kind. I love it, its fun and pays well.

I decided to add features to my DJ site, like music playlist generation, sampling, request lists, etc. I found a script online that did all of this and more, and seemed fantastic (www.ampache.org). So I went at it. I had only used a few hundred megabytes of my 200+GB of storage, so I had enough room for my entire music collection on the site. I put it all up there. Fantastic I thought! Now prospective clients to my DJ business can see what music I have, generate playlists so that I can see them as their DJ and play these songs on the night of their event, plus they are all automatically backed up by dreamhost’s servers so I don’t have to worry about the original CDs getting scratched as much!

Anytime music is involved on the web, everyone knows to freak out. The RIAA sharpens their blades every day to sue grandmas, 12 year olds, and of course the real pirates. Go RIAA I say, I too respect the artist. I have bought and paid for every single track that I claim to own. This means every song I put up on my dreamhost shared server was legal. The RIAA lets an owner of a CD or album to copy it once as an archival backup. This doesn’t mean that the ripped mp3 file is a backup, as the CD since I put it back in a drawer so it wouldnt get scratched, is more my backup. I made sure that while my script let users access the data contained in the mp3 (like the ID3 tags for instance), they could not copy it or download it to their computers. I even had streaming turned off because I didn’t want to generate too much traffic on my server.

You probably know where this is going. But I bet you didn’t know the time frame. I said I loved dreamhost till a month or 2 ago. The addition of my music collection and interactive webpage to access the music for my DJ business happened within the first year or six months of my service with Dreamhost.

So everything was peachy for a year or more. I loved dreamhost, sent them more customers, set up more websites, on and on. It was great.

Then about a month or so ago I needed to temporarily backup one of my folders on a harddrive. Somehow this upload tripped their “oh foo” alarm and they came to the conclusion that I’m using my alotted space for backups. I promptly bought a USB harddrive off the net, plugged in, and took care of the temporary back up I had just made intentionally, and deleted it. That wasn’t enough though. I had to comb through everything on my server and delete all backups. OK no prob bob. I did that.

But then came the news. They had determined that the music was for backup only. They kindly forwarded me their terms of service, relevant articles highlighted for me, which I read. It says in the terms of service that “the files on your server must be primarily for use in a webpage”. I don’t have the TOS in front of me, but it essentially read to that effect. If I’m wrong, DH ninjas please correct me with proper syntax of that phrase in the TOS.

So I got to thinking. I understand their plight, the more crap people upload on their sites the more harddrives they need to maintain and backup etc etc. But, I’m using these files to generate a more interactive and feature filled website, which in turn gets me more visitors, which in turn gets me the DJ more business. I have had several clients tell me that the selling point for them to hire me was my website, its photo galleries, and especially my music database and playlist generator.

So I asked them, over and over, and even over again: Please define “primarily for use in a website” and/or please define “a website”, since I must be mistaken on one or the other of these definitions.

I know it’s long, but this is my story. I warn you, if you fear that your use of this webhost’s services could in any way be subjectively judged against like this, you need to look elsewhere.

I started using the services that I was alotted, and got the hammer. I’d love to continue promoting dreamhost wherever I go, so please dreamhost reps read my story. I’m politely asking for permission to re-upload files that I consider to be critical to my website and my business. In the time that my files are down, I am not getting the full advantage of my website and I am losing money.

Computational Intelligence Research


I’m sure someone will come along and expound on what I’m about to say…

If you all you need was the ID3 tags, filename, filesize, etc then just stick that information in a database. You do not need to keep an enitre MP3 file. You can upload the MP3 file, extract the meta information, then delete the MP3 file.

Uh, the web uses a protocol called HTTP. Not FTP, or email, or a dozen other protocols. HTTP Or HTTP over TLS (HTTPS). HTTP is what makes it a web site. Just like the FTP protocol makes it an FTP site.

So if you have audio recordings that are NOT going out over HTTP, then they are NOT “primarily for use in a web site.” And of course linking to them won’t help your case because of the copyright issues.

So basically when it comes to audio recordings:

  1. Are they going out over HTTP?
  2. Are they legal?

And in my opinion #1 eliminates any fair use for backup purposes one would consider for #2.

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It seems I’ve been beat in response time, but I was going to suggest the same thing.

If all you need in is the information about the MP3 files, then why not store that info in a database and serve that?


Well, not having streaming “turned off” would have opened up a whole new potential problem from a legal standpoint, too! :wink:

Atropos7 nailed it, I think, when he said:

I’d go one step farther and suggest that you don’t even need to upload the MP3 in the first place - just run a local server environment (XAMPP, etc.), do the ID3 data extraction on your own computer, and then upload the data into your database.

I suppose that is one way of looking at it, though I see it more as a situation of you started to push the limits of acceptable use under the TOS, they noticed, and clarified for you that part of what you were doing was not going to be allowed per the TOS.

The “services” you were “allotted” (bandwidth/storage?) are only provided to be used in the manner allowed under the TOS, and I think Atropos7 summed that up about as precisely and succinctly as possible.



Sadly, I think I have to agree. I know what you’re doing is way more sophisticated than my example, but fwiw, here it is…

Let’s say I want people to know what I have in my music collection because that way, they’ll know how cool I am. (for those of you how know me, you know I’m making up this example because it would actually have the opposite effect!) In order to do this, let’s say I upload my entire music collection and use that to publish the filenames. While I’m at it, let me do that with my entire video collection (ignoring the fact that getting my video collection into uploadable form might lead to questions from the MPAA). In fact, why don’t I upload every file on the my hard drive and let people know what software I’m using!

The end goal of all of these examples is reasonable. The way I’ve chosen to do it is probably not.

Heck, I’d love it if the RIAA said it was reasonable for me to make a backup copy of every CD I own and store it “offsite” at my friend’s house - wink, wink, but I know it’s not going to happen.

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At one point, I had an application that would scan my iTunes library, then make a multiple-webpage listing of my collection, complete with album art. It was pretty slick, but I had no real use for it.



It’s much easier for me to just use the mp3 files on there. The script pulls the information out for me, and lets me do many other things. When at a gig, as the admin, I can access the tracks and stream them, or using ssh/nfs remote mount the harddrive to play them. The script also has a feature where I could allow 30 second samples of the track so that users would know for sure it was the correct version of the song that they wanted. Also, its much easier for me to just put the tracks up in one convenient location like this because as an added bonus, its got great backups. win win and extra win.

Thanks for that super awesome helpful pseudo definition of a website. that was fantastic man.

My music was in a folder that was in my home folder. /~ or /home/myUserName. This does NOT have a direct http link. GOOD CATCH. But guess what, that does NOT mean that there were no http links or that the samples and information generated did not go out over http. For one, I used NFS/FTP to remote mount my entire user directory. I did this for remote maintenance, when using the media on there, and even just because i could.

However, I had also symbolically linked the folder with the music to a private directory for my quick emergency access. While protected through apache’s simple htaccess, this did create http/hyperlinks directly to the tracks. That was protected and not for the public, agreed.

In addition, however, the php script I was using to catalog and access the music, doesn’t need the files to be a http directly hosted and shared folder. This is for the protection of the music and to remain as legal as I could. This means that for guests, when they wanted to stream the small sample, they could. The php would help it work, I don’t know how cause I didn’t write the code. The sample tune would be sent out via http/https direct to their computer.

[quote]1. Are they going out over HTTP?
2. Are they legal?[/quote]
Yes, and Yes. It’s obviously more complicated than that. Do you think that CNN streams its video, or CBS streams its shows via super easy to get to and download, super hackable site? I don’t think so. While it is convenient to go and watch the latest episode of whatever show you missed last week, the user doesn’t see the hoops that the computers are going through to get it done while remaining legal.

From my understanding, I can let people sample up to 30 seconds of a song w/o needing to pay royalties to an artist. Since I also own the music myself, I can stream it anytime I want to as it is my property (while the hard copy from the actual CDs remains my archival copy).

This dispute has very little to do with the legality of my files though. That’s the problem. The legality of my files would be handled by an entity other than Dreamhost. If the RIAA wanted to come after me, they could have. Besides, if I want to start streaming the entire song publicly from my site I should be allowed to. Since I would want to remain legal I would begin paying royalties. This wouldn’t go through Dreamhost in the least and so you still would have no basis for a judgment on the legality of my files or their distribution.

I shouldn’t have to. I am renting space, bandwidth, and limited server resources from dreamhost, and as such I should be able to use them how I see fit, as long as I remain in accord with the terms of service. I think I am fine with regards to the terms of service, they think I’m costing too much money and therefore subjective judgment is made and I’m going to have to more than triple my payment to keep my sites running the way I want. That is bad business.

Naturally. I know I said its bad business two seconds ago. It would be fine business (however much it might suck) if they would clarify this in the TOS, or even just to me.

Sure I might have been “pushing the limits”, if by pushing the limits means taking up only 50% of my storage space, maybe at most 1.0% bandwidth, and I can’t imagine any even trace CPU above normal websites as mine doesn’t generate huge amounts of traffic. I don’t want to make enemies, and I sure don’t want to anger anyone, I just want to use what I have purchased. Space, bandwidth, and minimal CPU, as long as I’m not hurting other customers or doing anything illegal. Space and throughput are easy to measure as they give me a panel with dials on it, and I was in the super green on those. CPU they dont give me a dial for, but I can’t imagine I even registering on that one. Hurting other DH customers, well unless I took up the space of the entire hard drive which I didnt, well I can’t think of something. And most important to me, legality had not been compromised.

I completely agree with your example. If I was just doing it for kicks and giggles, or I thought that I was causing inordinate amounts of strain on DH servers or simply as a business, I would stop immediately. When I had a backup of some stuff on there that they also said shouldn’t be there, I looked at it and agreed. I said ya sure no problem and deleted it immediately.

For one, I think the RIAA would have to make the decision as to which copy of the music is the backup. Is it the physical CD thats in a stack in a closet gathering dust, or is it the file online? For two, I’ve done everything I saw possible to remain completely legal. I’m not disputing the questionable nature of the files, i’m disputing the questionable call made by some DH reps. If someone wants to call and get the RIAA in here, cool. That’s more of a thing for lawyers and I don’t really want to get lawyers involved. That’s why I’m here at the DH forums. I’m hoping someone will take notice and either clarify for me, help me understand, or take pity and help me out. I personally think this could even be an issue for small claims court, and have some family lawyers who I’ve talked to about it briefly. They seem to agree, but also have not looked into it thoroughly. I don’t want to have to go through all of that. Somebody just help me out get me back to normal.

I was operating fine for over a year. I was a super loyal customer. Even now, I know many people I sent your way. I don’t care about the coupon pyramid scheme, but now I wish I had made sure that they put my name in the box so we would know just how many people got sent to you from me. Maybe include their email addresses so I could tell them they should find another host too.

Computational Intelligence Research


You should talk to some of those family lawyers and ask them to research the legal aspects of that, from a performance royalty as well as a DH TOS standpoint.

While they are at it, they might spend some time explaining the concept of fair use to you, and how there is no “magic number” of “seconds” that you can “use” without having to pay a royalty to an artist, and the concept of “owning” music (as opposed to owning a CD and having a license to play, or do other things with, that music). You might be surprised at what they have to say about it.

The whole “legality” discussion (which is not a simple one) is really just a strawman in this instance. You have not indicated that DH took issue with any of that, only the TOS related issue of the “purpose” of the storage, so I don’t see anyone being served by getting into argumentative discussion over the sad and sorry state of copyright law in this country, and the RIAA (which is a different thing altogether!).

The technical aspects of how CNN, CBS, or anyone else, streams their data is not at all relevant to your TOS at DreamHost. They are not bound to comply with any of that, while you are. The “pushing the limits” I mentioned was not about bandwidth or storage quota levels at all, rather it was about the definitions of acceptable usage purposes in the TOS.

Could that be stated more precisely? Probably. But at what point do you become so precise in your verbiage in a TOS that no one but a lawyer can understand it? And lawyers will often disagree about what a given TOS, or any other document, really “means” anyway (that’s why there are so many lawyers!).

You keep mentioning the RIAA as “allowing”,“having to decide”, etc. one thing or the other - the RIAA is an industry association, not a law enforcemet agency or a court of law, so their “opinions” are just that. the RIAA does not determine the “legality” of anything - they just aggressively pursue their agenda in attempting to have “legality” defined in the manner they want it to be. :wink:

Some responders to your post have attempted to “clarify” how they read the TOS issue that is the source of your frustration - though they don’t seem to see the issue the same way you see it. As for getting lawyers involved with the TOS - that’s a waste of time and resources. DH can terminate your account for any reason (though they generally won’t), so even if you successfully argue that the TOS is insufficiently clear on this point, in the end, you gain nothing.

Have you considered, given your education and your current business model, just getting a dedicated server and handling all these issues yourself? It seems to me that would be the smart business decision if you “shouldn’t have to” change your processes to remain welcome on a shared host under the DH TOS.

Sure, it will cost more, but you could do as you please there and not have to even consider changing how you do things. :wink:



Haha yea your RIAA is an industry comment and the comments about how they can’t determine the legality, ya you’re correct, but you got my point. I’m not intentionally breaking any laws.

The magic number of 30 seconds was something I learned doing production work with a few people. It was my understanding that in production of commercials or tv that you can play “samples” of the song w/o having to worry about royalties, same on radio. That’s why you hear all the little 5-20 second blurbs of songs during the station ID when you listen to the radio. Also, performance royalties are generally negligible if any at all. How many college cover bands do you think pay royalties? None. Same with DJing. Now, if it was being broadcast live on the radio, which sometimes is, that’d be a different thing. I let the station handle that though, and has nothing to do with this whole deal.

Regardless, like you said, my frustration doesn’t have anything to do with the legality of the files.

And like you said, it can’t be about quotas cause I wasn’t pushing the limits on them.

So like I asked, could a dreamhost rep please clarify to me the line in the TOS that says

The only good argument I saw that held relevance was that a website uses HTTP and my data had to be transferred to the users of the site via http/s. If someone could tell me how my data wasn’t being transferred via http/s via the script, i’d be amazed.

So would someone please explain to me then, how that data was not being used primarily for a website?

If someone could explain to me what an acceptable “website” is according the TOS, and how I violated that, it’d be much appreciated. I harbor no ill will, and if someone could explain to me how I violated it, I’d harbor absolutely no resentment or frustration to dreamhost at all.

Like I said, I understand their situation and the reason why they need to make calls like this. I just don’t understand how I violated the TOS.

Computational Intelligence Research


This has moved into an area that only DreamHost can address. They’ve been reluctant to be really specific on this topic, probably because they’re not the overly rigid type.

My bottom line feeling on this is that while you may have some http connection to these files, it’s pushing the boundaries of “legitimate” http traffic for them.

Out of curiosity, and you don’t have to answer, how many gigs of files are we talking about?



If you’re allowing short clips of the music to be played, say 30 seconds of a 4:20 song, then 3:50 of music is not intended to be streamed or viewed at all by website visitors. I understand your frustration, but it seems to me like you’re trying to use DH for your music library. Even if you don’t need to use this space as a backup, even if it makes your job a whole lot easier, it comes down to you using them for mass data storage, which the general public will never utilize, because if they did, you’d be violating copyright.

Along the lines of copyright, you proclaimed that it’s not DH’s problem if you are violating the law. But by hosting the illegal material, they are a vehicle in the unlawful activity. And if you’ll go to the TOS page and scroll down a bit, in nice bolded text reads:

" Transmission of any material in violation of any Country, Federal, State or Local regulation is prohibited."


For TV, and Radio, Internet is new ground and had a new history off himself (about royalties).

The wikipedia summarizes very good what is happening on Internet Radio yes I know is not Disk Jokey… found a interesting link http://proformancedj.com/copyright.htm myself had discussed with several friends of the current status of Dj’s and their productions… IANAL so, I left this links as interesting info.


Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.


Ah yes, this is indeed an interesting question - though one that I really don’t need answered for my own account, please!

I’ve occasionally used my web space to transfer a file between home and work or between work and my wife’s laptop. Personally, I view this as a violation of the ToS. I know it doesn’t help my case, but I do view it as a violation like being 1 mph over the speed limit is a moving violation.

It’s my understanding that using our web space for backup or as a remote mounted file system for personal use is a violation of ToS, but as long as it’s not >10mph over the speed limit, we’re probably not going to be cited for it.

I sometimes like to think of my business relationships as business relationships. If I arrange it so that my vendor is losing money from me, I can’t expect that their going to be lenient on me when it comes to the rules that define their service. OTOH, if I’m a wildly profitable customer, I hope for some leeway for being a “good” customer.

I used to subscribe to Netflix. I had the $12 a month 2 DVDs at-a-time plan but I pretty much kept my 2 DVDs for months at a time. I’m pretty sure I defined their ideal customer. One day they decided to raise the price of my subscription to the same as the new 2-at-a-time-4-a-month plan - $16. I wasn’t happy but stuck with it. The next month, they lowered the price of the 2-at-a-time-4-a-month plan to $12 to compete with Blockbuster but told me they were going to keep my plan at $16 because it was the 2-at-a-time unlimited plan. I canceled on the spot and haven’t looked back.

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That’s exactly why I’m here. They eventually stopped replying constructively to my inquiries on support, stating that they had determined that my files were not primarily for the sake of my website and instead primarily for personal backup. this is a subjective assumption, and they don’t have any real grounds for it as far as I can tell.

Scott: About 90 gigs is all. I had these files up there for a very long time, almost the entire time I’ve been at Dreamhost. It’s only recently that they’ve required me to take it down when they found some temp files I had put up there.

Yes Lensman, I agree the temp files from one place to the other is against the TOS. I don’t think I was putting pressure on the system by accessing the files in the other ways, nfs once in awhile, and ftp when i wanted to update files, and whenever i did maintenance on my site i mounted it as nfs or whatever. I did that when doing most anything with any of my multiple domains, it’s just easier and they provide this great access for exactly that reason.

I’ve never felt slighted by Dreamhost, and I’ve actually had great customer service throughout my stay here. I feel very passionately about staying here and continuing the great relationship that we had 2 months ago.

I disagree. I have a file, bloated or not, i have a script that takes data from it I don’t know how. You are basically telling me to take my entire collection, cut samples out of the tracks. This to me is like telling someone who is uploading digital pictures that they don’t need a 1024x768 version of their artwork and they should just upload a 640x480 version.

You’re also saying that because my data isn’t available to the entire, general public it shouldn’t be on the servers. If I were to make all of my files (music aside) available then my website would get hacked, people would find the config files for my joomla installation or whatever and could then hack my database, etc etc. Just because my files are password protected and only select people (regardless of the audience size) can access the full file in a controlled and legal way, doesn’t mean they aren’t being used primarily for a website.

No I didn’t, I said that I have taken steps to make sure that I feel that I am in the legal green zone with what I’m doing and thus am not violating the law, and that if an entity like the RIAA disagreed and wanted to sue someone for royalties they would most likely come after me. Even if they didn’t I’d be happy to testify in favor of dreamhost’s innocence or whatever, but that is besides the point. I’ve taken steps to stay legal, if those weren’t enough dreamhost should tell me how I am breaking the law.

I wouldn’t consider myself a “wildly” profitable customer. I don’t usually consume too much of the resource they say I can, again 50% something space and little to no bandwidth, like the one guy’s netflix story. But I would consider myself a wildly loyal customer. That’s why I’m still here trying to figure this out.

My “some” http connection was set up to make sure I was staying legal. Just because the files weren’t stored directly in my /home/ folder doesn’t mean there weren’t DNS hosted links to them or that my http traffic through the script that was protecting the files wasn’t data being transferred in with the http protocol in the strictest sense.

I am interested in what you mean by “legitimate” http traffic though. I don’t see how my traffic was in any way illegitimate.

Again, if I’m wrong on this, I have no problem with that. I feel like the girl that got dumped w/o ever get a reason.

Computational Intelligence Research


You’re here because it’s an area that only DH support/abuse can address definitively and they’ve addressed it definitively but not in your favor? Hmm.

I personally agree that there’s room for interpretation of the ToS in your case. Unfortunately, room for interpretation means just that - that someone has to interpret the ToS. In the case of a disagreement over the interpretation of the ToS, I’d personally say that you have a decent case for asking for a pro-rated refund of your hosting fees. And since Dreamhost is a stand-up company, I’d see them agreeing to that given that you signed up for service with a misunderstanding about the ToS.

I see less hope of them revisiting their assessment of whether your use can be interpreted favorably within their ToS, but I think the appeal would have to go through the Support or Abuse channels and not through the channels of public opinion - particularly and unfortunately since most people here seem to validate the DH interpretation.

One other consideration is that although “yelling in the hotel room lobby” is likely to get you some refund on your room, you’re likely to be put on the hotel blacklist in the future.

At any rate, good luck in your endeavors!

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While they’ve addressed it definitively, I feel they made the decision before letting me make my case and without understanding my situation.

I’m here because I don’t feel I got a decent answer in the support avenue. Not just because I disagree. Like I’ve mentioned a few times, I don’t want to push the limits or cause trouble. And I do hate being the guy yelling in the hotel room lobby, especially for dreamhost. I do love the company, the attitudes of the customer reps I dealt with before this incident, everything about it. That’s why I just want to get this figured out so I can go back to being solid with DH.

I’m not asking for a refund or anything like that. I just wanted to get in the public forums to get some other opinions and to put forth and get other opinions on what “primarily for use by a website” means. Yea I’m hoping some DH rep will take pity, but if I get no action from the forum here I will restart my petition or whatever through the DH channels.

In the meantime though, I’m having trouble getting interpretations that have any basis in my case. If you have any other interpretations, please let me know.

Computational Intelligence Research


Well, that may actually be a pretty good analogy here! Consider:

  1. Just because the girl is given a “reason”, there is no guarantee she will consider it to be a “valid” or “correct” reason. - “this is a subjective assumption, and they don’t have any real grounds for it as far as I can tell.”

  2. At some point, there is really nothing productive to be gained by continuing to discuss your feelings with her, see Item 1) above - “They eventually stopped replying constructively to my inquiries on support, stating that they had determined that my files were not primarily for the sake of my website and instead primarily for personal backup.”

Another thought that comes to mind regarding:

That’s an interesting thought…I read the terms of service to say that if you are only using the 640x480 version for your website and and not “serving” the 1024x768 versions as part of a website, those 1024x748 versions would also qualify as “personal backup/storage” not related to the operation of a website and be outside what is allowed per the TOS and recent clarifications of it… :wink:

At the end of the day, if DreamHost is no longer willing to discuss it with you, it seems to me that they have determined to their satisfaction what is acceptable and what is not - which, per the TOS, is their right to do.

When does arguing that determination become similar to beating a dead horse? The world is full of hosting providers, and I have no doubt you could find several that would let you do what you want in this area.

Granted, they may cost more and may not have the same flexibility and utility (and/or quotas) as DreamHost, but wouldn’t it make more sense to do business with a host whose business model accommodated your needs than it would be to try to convince a given host to change its business model (as they perceive it to be) to accommodate your wishes?

If I really felt the way you do about it, I would simply say, “Thanks for the ‘good times’, DH, but it’s not good for me any more and it is time for me to move on” rather than continuing to argue my case in the face of them no longer discussing it with me.

Hey, it is their house, and their rules, and I’m fine with that … I can always hang out somewhere else if I don’t like the rules or the way they are interpreted. :wink:



I see, and understand, that you feel that way, but you have to recognize at least the possibility that they might feel they have made the right decision, and that they have considered your stated position.

There’s never any guarantee that changing venues will change the decision, and DreamHost seems to have “figured this out” to their satisfaction and made their decision about how it should be handled (from your statements in prior posts). It may well be that you and DreamHost will only be able to “agree to disagree” on this - but that is somewhat irrelevant as DreamHost’s interpretation of their TOS is what counts. Your recourse is to host elsewhere if you can’t accept that interpretation. :wink:

Good luck with that! My experience in dealing with other people is that it is sometimes hard to return to a “private business discussion” once you have “yelled in public” about the previous private discussion. I respectfully suggest you consider how your statements here might prejudice how you are perceived there. I know that, in the 30 years I’ve done business, once somebody mentions “family lawyers”,“small claims court” or other vaguely (or not so vaguely) couched references to litigation, I’m done talking - my insurer(s) require(s) that posture! :wink:

I think you have actually been provided with some, but I understand you don’t perceive them as having “any basis” in what you perceive your “case” to be … any more than you perceive your prior discussion with DH on this matter to have been properly considered.

Actually, I do have several other interpretations that I feel are relevant to your situation, but I don’t think this is the proper venue for discussing them, and I feel pretty confident that you won’t perceive them as particularly relevant (given, among other things, your stated understanding of copyright law, TOS interpretation, etc.) … so I’ll just keep them to myself and join Lensman in wishing you all the best in your endeavors. :slight_smile:



I’ve been suffering from a storm-induced power outage for the last couple of days, so I haven’t been able to contribute to this discussion from the beginning. I’ve read what everyone has been saying with considerable interest, and I am glad there has been a carefully-considered and thoughtful conversation on this matter.

I believe Andy is right to have started this discussion, and despite the valuable and valid opinions of my fellow DreamHosters I find myself very much agreeing with Andy’s point of view. Let me try to elucidate my reasoning. I think that the issue of whether or not Andy’s particular files (in this case, commercial MP3s) are legally allowed to be stored in his “account space” is irrelevant to the central theme of the discussion. What is at issue here is whether or not those files are to be considered a part of a website, or just a backup of his personal files.

I would say that in this case, having the MP3 files stored in his account space is crucial for the normal functioning of Andy’s website, as he would define a website. And perhaps this is the crucial point - what is actually considered a website? Webster defines a website as “a group of World Wide Web pages usually containing hyperlinks to each other and made available online by an individual, company, educational institution, government, or organization,” but that completely ignores resources such as rich media, software applications and even database back ends - all of which are significantly important to websites of today.

Andy’s MP3 files could be considered as part of his site’s back end. Removing those files would be akin to removing some of the fields of a database table. Some information would remain (he could continue to store file information, if not the file itself), but some important information would be missing. Again, it would interfere in the normal functioning of Andy’s website. To use his own analogy, it would be a bit like having a gallery of images that has all the information about each image, but not the image itself. But actually, I think there is a better analogy in this particular case. Consider a basic web page with various images and editorial that refers to these images. Imagine if those images were not there, and all you could see was the ALT text that would normally be associated with them. That is what Andy’s site would be like without those MP3 files.

That being said, there is one other thing to consider which leans the argument in the other direction, and it brings me back to what I said earlier about what a website actually is. From what he says, it appears that Andy’s site has a very select usage. It is intended primarily for his personal use, and for the use of a limited number of guests in a slightly limited capacity. This usage differs from most websites where (except for “premium content” that one pays for or subscribes to) almost all content is available to anyone, and indeed is discoverable by anyone - the “World Wide” part of “World Wide Web”. One could argue that this is where one could draw a distinction between “primarily for the purpose of hosting a website” and what is primarily a personal resource akin to a backup or archive.

Ultimately, DreamHost has decided that Andy’s usage is the latter. I am inclined to disagree with this assessment, but I agree that it is DreamHost’s right to make this determination. I would be strongly in favor of any move by DreamHost to reevaluate this part of their Terms of Service, either to allow this sort of restricted usage or to at least make the wording less ambiguous. I can understand Andy’s disappointment, but at the same time I think that his special circumstances highlight the need for the TOS to be revised in some way.

DreamHost is willing to allow this kind of usage, but only after a negotiation over additional fees. I would recommend that Andy approaches the company with an offer to pay more for this specific service. It may be that opting for DreamHost PS may make DreamHost happy. Another thing to consider, depending on your ISP, is running a personal web server to serve just the MP3 files. The small user base indicated may be sufficiently served by this method. I’m sure other DreamHosters with more experience in doing this will be able to provide better advice than I.

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If you all you need was the ID3 tags, filename, filesize, etc then just stick that information in a database. You do not need to keep an enitre MP3 file. You can upload the MP3 file, extract the meta information, then delete the MP3 file.

He COULD have done that, but quite honestly, there should not have been any NEED to do that.

Uh, the web uses a protocol called HTTP. Not FTP, or email, or a dozen other protocols. HTTP Or HTTP over TLS (HTTPS). HTTP is what makes it a web site. Just like the FTP protocol makes it an FTP site

Sorry, that won’t fly. Dreamhost does not let this fly. HTTP is not website to DH, as per their reinterpretation of their ToS.