How do I get DreamHost to stop ignoring my emails?


#1

DreamHost has disabled my user account and has since ignored every email I have sent in the last five days. With my account, I have lost nine domain names and every one of my email addresses. I have sent them three emails (from my backup Gmail address) in the last five days, not one of which has received so much as an acknowledgement of my existance. I have called the number on the domain whois since they have no other listed means of contact, and have been greeted by an answering service. I have left messages and have not received a response. This is the only medium left open to me, and I want access to MY domain names.

What follows is the exchange between myself and DreamHost. What is your opinion of their behaviour?

Are you saying the collection of links (example below) did not resolve to valid webpages and did not contain information (whether links, torrent files, etc.) to facilitate downloading copyrighted content illegally? Please elaborate.

[…]

[quote]The site in question has always been on a dedicated server hosted with
another company, and is now offline in any case.

[/quote]

Why is the DNS pointed at our nameservers and the domain entered in our hosting system if it is hosted on a dedicated server with another host?

Also, if we weren’t the host, and if the content on our servers didn’t facilitate visitors downloading copyrighted content illegally, why the disclaimer on the copy of the site that is currently stored on our servers?
[/quote]

When I registered with DreamHost, all the bad press seemed to be conceptual and about overselling, published by people that had never actually been DreamHost members. Overselling makes sense to me and I’ve got no problem with that. Their proponents praised their customer service and their quick, quick turnaround. Huh.

Your opinions on copyright infringement aside, can you conceive of a justification for them simply ignoring me? I guess it’s a quick way of avoiding dealing with the uncomfortable points I raised. I have no chance of negotiating, reasoning, or even understanding their stance if they refuse to respond.

I want my domains back, and I want my domains back now. They have no right to deny me access. They’re welcome to trash everything else if they like, heaven knows I’ll be jumping ship the moment they return what is mine. However, I have roughly $200 invested in those nine domains, some of which have some recognition, others of which play host to the emails that I use every day.

I am sick of this.


#2

Well, it is interesting that it was Dreamhost who received a DMCA complaint for infringing content that you allege was never on their servers.

How is it that the complainant identified Dreamhost as the party to whom to send the DMCA notice? I’d suppose that what happened is that the complainant looked at the whois records and sent the notice to the host of the DNS record for the site. Of course, they might have “gone shotgun” and sent a notice to the “owner” of the IP range for the actual host… I’m obviously not an expert on how these DMCA goons do their job.

At any rate, my take is that it could be argued either way. There was, after all, infringing content at the URLs mentioned. I’d guess that Dreamhost did facilitate the infringement in some way shape or form - though DNS even if not through hosting the files themselves or links to the files. It’s probably a matter of argument (that you’d hopefully win) that the infringing content nor any links to said content were actually on Dreamhost’s web servers.

The DNS argument is an interesting one - particularly since it might be how DMCA goons identify the web host to whom to send the takedown notice.

I think Dreamhost’s behavior is reasonable - though I also think you have some decent arguments for keeping your account alive. OTOH, because of the evils of DMCA, you may be doomed even if you’re technically on the right side of the ToS. OTOH, you could possibly be technically in violation due to the DNS issue. It’s horrifying to think that this would be the case, but it’s also horrifying that linking to infringing content is against the law, so the fact that something is horrifying doesn’t mean that it’s not the law.

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#3

Both DreamHost (the registrar) and xlHost (the host) were contacted, and both disabled the accounts. xlHost was right in doing so; DreamHost was not.

At this point, the only thing that matters to me is getting my domains back. I can find a new host easily enough, so I don’t care about keeping my account alive. Before I can get my domains back, I need someone from DreamHost to contact me. It’s like I’m dropping messages into a black hole.

I don’t care how “reasonable” their response is; I just know their lack of response is not. I’m sorry, you can’t be so busy that it takes five days to respond.

The DMCA bit is irrelevant. DreamHost is bound by the DMCA, and I would be if I were American, but the only thing that binds me to DreamHost is the terms and conditions, which I did not violate.

Of course, the DNS argument is a strange one indeed because it simply leads you up a chain of increasingly-remote arguments. My mother could be culpable for giving birth to someone that might eventually create a site that would be taken down under the DMCA.

Note to DreamHost employees: I will begin re-posting this thread at the various forums I frequent, one forum per day, until I receive a response.


#4

Everything else you said is stupid as well, but this will guarantee that they never take you seriously:

Do you really think being a complete moron is the best way to get them to reply? Let us know how that works out for you. :stuck_out_tongue:


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#5

I blame the government. DMCA is a load of corrupt junk with excessive penalties and totalitarian enforcement. That said, its the law.

When any online service provider (ISP, registrar, host, etc…) is presented with a DMCA takedown notice they have no legal option but to immediately comply.

If the “infringer” wants to challenge this, they’re allowed to present counter-notification.

If Dreamhost just gave you access to anything related to the DMCA claim, they would be the ones financially liable under the law. Since you’re out of the country and Dreamhost probably has deeper pockets, they’re the ones who would get sued for the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines levied against (I’m guessing) the $1 songs or $50 software that got this started.

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#6

Why, what else would you suggest? I’ve done everything short of buying a ticket to Los Angelas and knocking on their door. I probably wouldn’t even get any attention then. Probably a little too close for comfort.


#7

I’m telling you, you have to file a “DMCA takedown counter notice.” (google w/o quotes for about 80,000 pages on the topic)

  • your name, address, phone number and physical or electronic signature
  • Identification of the material in question and its location before removal
  • A statement under penalty of perjury that the material was removed by mistake or misidentification
  • consent to accept the judgment of your national courts (who are probably in on the United Nations-WIPO treaty that got this started)

Then the copyright owner who filed the takedown notice can either drop the subject or take you to court…

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#8

I doubt you’ll be contesting any DMCA notification; but I agree with you.

DH have every right to cancel your hosting - which isn’t an issue.

DH have no right to withold access to your domain management.

This could be a case of where a ‘one stop’ Panel fails. By disabling Panel access as a Host (which they have every right), they disabled your ability to manage your domains as a Registrar. This is totally unnacceptable considering they remain non-responsive to your emails - which would be the only way for you to request any manual domain information changes.

They should have lowered all quota limits to zero on your account so you had no possible way to violate any TOS, while still enabling you complete access to login and manage your domains.

The non-responsiveness from Support is extremely unnerving. One of the things I like most about DH is they’re far from being webhost Nazis like some other companies out there. It almost sounds like someone might be powertripping, but more probably they just didn’t follow logic or have no understanding about how domain management is tied in with the hosting Panel.

Whomever handled this over at DH really dropped the ball on this one and you are most certainly owed an apology for the time you’ve had no access to manage your domains, no matter that the hosting part had been cancelled due to any legitimate TOS link infringements.

I still can’t get over the no-response. This bothers me :s

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#9

I looked into this case. The abuse person that is working on the case was out sick for a couple days. I asked them about it and their plan is to just give him access to transfer his domains away. To quote the OP on his website, “Choosing a server in the US was a mistake, and I should have known better. I’m sorry for that. We will be moving to a more permanent server prior to the August/September rush, so be ready for that.” His plan isn’t to stop distributing the content, its just to find better ways to skirt the laws. But yeah, his tantrum is obviously not our highest priority.


#10

I would have appreciated being told that, or anything at all. Since I assume there is more than one person that works for DreamHost, I would at least respect a response, particularly to the message that I submitted as a separate support ticket which anyone had access to and could have responded to.

I’ve got no problem with your response, although I would still like an explanation as to how exactly I have violated your terms of service. My problem is with your lack of response, which I find quite disturbing. I can’t read your minds.

Thanks for the belated response, though. I suppose I’ll take what I can get. I like being able to deal with the same person throughout a support issue, but if that’s not possible and the problem is urgent, I would have thought someone else would step in and take over. There is no excuse for failing to provide even a token response for nearly a week.

Edit: I would also like a complete database and file backup, or the opportunity to do it myself. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.


#11

I believe providing links (even to other sites with illegal content) is strictly against the TOS. I honestly think you realise that you have no recourse regarding a re-enabling of your hosting account. The explanation that the guy handling your case was away makes sense concerning the lack of response, albeit annoying for you and I felt your pain. It’s sensible for both parties to have one person take control of support issues. Unfortunately your one person fell ill.

The main thing is you’re now able to manage your domains for transfer :slight_smile:

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#12

Don’t get your hopes up. I don’t think Dreamhost is willing to risk prosecution nor are they willing to risk an order to shut down everyone else’s accounts because of facilitation.

As many of us have been saying, these are the consequences of the current state of laws in the U.S. We may not like them but we do want to avoid prosecution and persecution and get on with our lives as best we can until we can get the laws changed.

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#13

I don’t know the TOS by heart (and I don’t really care at this point) but I’m pretty sure that’s not in there. Do not host copyrighted material, that’s about the extent of it.

I didn’t.

Yes. Not meaning to be mean-spirited, but DreamHost overstepped their rights in denying me access to them. By their own admission, I own the domains so long as I continue my payments. Some are good to 2010.

Facilitation of what? I’m not bluffing when I say no copyrighted information was ever stored on DreamHost’s servers. It never was. DreamHost was merely the registrar and operated the nameserver, which means they were in no way involved and thus not culpable.

I agree that the laws stink, but you do what you can.


#14

You are arguing points of fact, not points of law. Generally, once a web host receives a DMCA notice, they will act as if it were valid until they receive the counter-claim. This is because this action immunizes them against liability to the claimant should the copyright violation prove valid.

Not acting on a DMCA notice, in the absence of a counter-claim by the named plaintiff, is financially risky and very few hosts will do it. They not only risk financial liability, but they risk a DMCA notice to their ISP against their entire business because of their failure to comply with a legal notification. This threat is not trivial because the DMCA complainant in your case is a powerful, deep-pocket, organization who could, if they choose, pursue complaints into court and either win or force a host to spend so much money defending themselves (against legally reasonable claims) that they go out of business, or, as I said above, get internet connections shut down until such a time as a web host complies with their notice.

One of the big problems is that its a prima facie case. You are violating copyright. The legal questions you raise are second order - does the extent Dreamhost’s involvement make them criminally or civilly liable?

Finally, a small point regarding the hosting of links. The problem is that that the ToS states:

That means if our use of the “server” is for a unlawful purpose, we’re violating the ToS, even if the unlawful purpose or specific mechanism is not specifically named in the ToS.

Like I said, we don’t have to like the laws as they are currently on the books, but we do have to live with them and do our best to go on making our livelihoods and “doing our thing” until we can get them adjusted. (or just simply thrown out when we elect better government :slight_smile:

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#15

Sadly, you’re right. Wouldn’t you love to live in a world where common sense was a factor in the legal profession?

In this case, you’re not a web host for all intents and purposes. Of course, while that means that you are in fact in a perfectly good legal position, it’s not to stop the organization from bankrupting you with legal fees. Justice is for the rich.

Well, it’s a facile response, but not without merit: is Google culpable for indexing my site? They provide a direct link to the site. In the absence of a domain name, they link to the IP address. Google is in fact more closely involved in the “linking” complaint than you are.

Again, common sense != law.

I did not use the server for an unlawful purpose. The operation of a BitTorrent tracker is rather arguable in that regard, but you are removed one further degree from the site.

I’m not holding my breath.

By the way, going back to the backup point: I don’t see that this is legally or morally an issue. There is no copyrighted material stored in the files on the DreamHost account, merely a bunch of my own stuff. There is no copyrighted information stored in the database, merely a collection of forum posts. While the domain situation is more arguable (and the reason for the DMCA notice), there is nothing even borderline about the data in my user account.


#16

Good luck getting any data back. You’ve put DreamHost in an unfortunate position by registering your domain with them. Now your account has been closed down. While you’ll get your domains back, there’s not much hope for getting your data back. No matter, you should have it all backed up anyhow, as should all of us in case of catastrophic failure.

-Scott


#17

You might be surprised!

Google has been very compliant with DMCA takedown notices and I can almost guarantee that when/if you have your site up and running there’s a good chance it will be de-indexed from the searches when/if the plaintiff sees it back again.

You might remember Altavista’s video search engine that linked directly to media wherever it was hosted - its been ripped apart by legal action and threats and now its not nearly as functional or comprehensive as it used to be. Plenty of people have gotten in trouble for just linking to pages hosted elsewhere, in the view of the (excessive) law, it is complicity.

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