Webhosting Firms And Legal Liability- Help Needed!
Posted 31 August 2011 - 12:11 PM
I run a small ecommerce, hosted site here on TCH. For a number of years we have been re-selling a product that can best be described as being in the realms of cottage industry.
Recently our supplier seems to have become psychotic. On her own site she has pasted the following:
"WE DO NOT SUPPLY edit- MY SITE WHO HAVE BEEN MAKING POOR COPIES OF OUR PRODUCTS TO SELL TO YOU THE PET BUYING PUBLIC. THEY COULD BE PLACING THE HEALTH OF YOUR PET IN DANGER AS THEY ARE UNQUALIFIED TO PRODUCE ANY PET PRODUCT.IF IT DOES NOT HAVE MY NAME ON IT ITS A COPY, PLEAS ENSURE THAT YOU CONTACT YOUR LOCAL TRADING STANDARDS.DEMAND YOUR MONEY BACK"
I was pretty shocked when I discovered the statement had been added to her homepage. It goes without saying that the statement is false- we can show the parity between incoming and outgoing orders.
My first response was to contact the hosting company- IXWEBHOSTING part of ECOMMERCE.COM- I asked them to suspend the pages that libeled us. I had assumed that it would be covered by their offensive behaviour clause in the ToS.
Unfortunately their stance has been one of "By law and by policy, we will remove content indicated in a formal DMCA complaint, Trademark complaint, or indicated in a warrant, subpoena, other court decree, or as indicted by applicable law enforcement agencies. If you wish to provide such documentation, please attach this to a ticket or forward this to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will review it accordingly."
Personally this strikes me as being BS, hand washing, buck passing and a cop out. Are they really suggesting that they will allow anything to be hosted on their site until the point at which the authorities demand that they remove it.
Surely a webhost has some degree of liability with regard to the content that is hosted on their servers, especially once someone has highlighted potential issues. Sometime back I hosted a not for profit site for a friend of mine that was strongly criticising a large institution, a Cease and Desist letter was sent and TCH replied that the content an expression of opinion and therefore covered by the First. I don't imagine that the remarks about me are covered by the first.
I would like to know if web hosts are legally liable for the content that they enable to be relayed to the public and how I go about resolving things. I do not want to have any contact with the witch that used to supply us. I am not sure that I would be able to act in a professional manner, she also has a history of selectively posting parts of emails on her forum.
I also really need help with regard to dealing with this stuff. I am uk based and at the moment have no idea how to proceed given that the witch is UK based but the site is hosted in the USA.
It is also worth mentioning that her product equated to the primary bread winner in our family household. Now that the plug has been pulled by her without any warning the ability to pay lawyers has been severely impacted.
i really would appreciate any advice regarding this.
I'd like to get things resolved before the way back machine and google cache it. TBH i have no idea of the time frames involved.
Posted 31 August 2011 - 01:33 PM
Oh this great tangled web thingy. Here is my take on this.
Since their host is USA based, UK laws would not apply to the USA based host. Most hosts will not simply take down a site based on the information you have provided in your posting here. Since your complaint does not relate to Copyright or Trademark related issues, the DMCA law of the USA would not apply. Therefore you would need to proceed against this other person in Civil Court. I am not sure how the courts work in the UK, however here in the states you would need to obtain a court order to effect a take down. Civil orders are given when you prove to the court that you have been defamed or you present a valid libelous case against the other party.
I am afraid to say that even if you presented this complaint to our abuse department here at TotalChoice we would have taken the same approach as this other host did.
I would take them to court and make them pay the price for their actions.
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Posted 01 September 2011 - 01:05 AM
Thanks for replying and being so candid and honest.
The following might be useful for anyone in a similiar situation
I guess I am going to have to dig deep into my pockets. Money that I can ill afford to waste...
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