web hosting media

A federal judge has ruled out that there’s a big difference between providing hosting for infringing content and participating in copyright infringement. ALS Scan sued basically everybody for copyright infringement after adult images that it owned were posted all over the web. ALS Scan sued Steadfast Holdings, Cloudflare, Juicy Ads, and a number of other web hosting services.

One by one, these defendants have been excused from the suit. The underlying logic for the dismissals is solid. Providing web hosting is not the same thing as contributory infringement, no matter how much ALS Scan wants it to be.

In the Steadfast ruling, Wu said that merely hosting a pirate site does not make the web hosting service provider liable for any copyright infringement actions the site may be guilty of. In its motion to dismiss, Steadfast argued that it did not manage or operate the Imagebam site, and that it only provided computer storage. Wu wrote that:

“The court is unaware of any authority holding that merely alleging that a defendant provides some form of ‘hosting’ service to an infringing website is sufficient to establish contributory copyright infringement. The court would therefore find that the [complaint] fails to allege facts establishing that Steadfast materially contributed to the infringement.”

The judge said that there is more web hosting companies to do, in order to be considered contributory infringers and the hosting companies are doing none of those things. He said that ALS Scan wants web hosting companies to do more than they’re legally obligated to do. But it can’t sue just because it doesn’t agree with their practices. Here is more from the court ruling:

[T]he only allegations specific to Steadfast that are raised in the SAC are that Steadfast “hosts” pirate sites, including Imagebam, and that Plaintiff has sent numerous notifications to Steadfast of infringing content on Imagebam, but Steadfast has failed to implement or enforce a repeat infringer policy by removing Imagebam from its servers.

Beyond that, ALS’s complaint contains nothing that shows evidence of its claims.

Steadfast also contends that the SAC fails to allege material contribution or inducement. The Court would agree. The SAC alleges only that Steadfast “hosts” pirate sites that feature infringing content. It is entirely unclear what services Steadfast provides to Imagebam; what type of infringing activity Imagebam conducts (or even what Imagebam is); or how Steadfast contributes to or facilitates that infringing activity. As such, the Court would find that the SAC fails to plead material contribution.

The same goes for the rest of the allegations. Steadfast (or other web hosts) didn’t produce or contribute to infringing activity at sites hosted on its network, nor did it somehow violate ALS’s trademarks by hosting websites where infringing images could be found.

As Judge Wu’s opinion points out, it’s not up to the court to determine whether sued websites are “responsive enough” to rightsholders’ demands. As websites and web hosts follow the statutory requirements and respond properly to an DMCA request, they’re insulated from most infringement claims.

Germany’s United Internet bought web hosting company Strato, owned by Deutsche Telekom. According to the reports in the press, United Internet paid for around €600 million ($629 million) in cash. It takes on 2 million customer contracts and approximately €130 million in annual revenue. This another step toward consolidation of the European web hosting market. The company already owns popular web hosting, domain registration and online service brands 1 & 1, FastHosts, InternetX, Sedo, Web.de, GMX, Mail.com, etc.

Ralph Dommermuth, Chief Executive of United Internet explained that the acquisition of Strato will make possible for his company to expand its position on the “European hosting and Cloud application business”. He also added that such deal “drives the consolidation of a market which is currently still strongly fragmented”.

The deal is backed by a private equity group Warburg Pincus, which values Strato at 12.4 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. According to experts this valuation is in line with the with the multiple that American web host Godaddy paid to acquire Host Europe Group (HEG).

United Internet has also been interested to buy HEG, but eventually switched to the Strato deal. According Reuters the equity group Warburg plans to inject additional €50 million into the business applications holding as part of the Strato deal. United Internet’s owns popular web hosting provider 1&1, which is among the biggest in Europe and within the last 5 years has significantly grown its business in the Unites States.

What Are Stato’s New Owner’s Expectations?

United Internet hopes that it will be able to attract small and medium German businesses to as clients by selling them various services – from websites, e-commerce solutions, CRM apps, security services and etc. The company is also looking forward to continue its web hosting acquisition business in order to consolidate the European It Hosting market and to.

Is European Web Hosting Industry Going The American Way?

More or less, “yes” as private equity firms and other type of investment ventures poor money to web hosting in order to increase “market consolidation”, which actually means to increase the market share for some big web hosting providers and to reduce the market significance of medium and small business IT hosting and Service providers. Investment funds and financial capital groups applies formula which multiplies the value of each business based on its size and customer base.

The bigger the entity is, the better chance financial groups have to launch IPO and to sell overestimated  shared on the stock exchange. Such approach to business proves to be profitable in a short run. However, when it comes to technology part of the business to the IT infrastructure services and Cloud service delivery, it possesses certain risk. It is all about decision making. After such acquisitions, the decisions are made by CTO’s and professionals who usually have a little to do with the management of IT businesses and processes. The investors and stockholders are always eager to return on their investments. As a result of that the companies increase pricing and the IT management is very often pushed to change the procedures and to impose restrictions and service terms which would make customers to increase their IT spendings.

In European Union, a single market on paper, that comprises of 28 national markets, 28 national languages and various business standards and cultures, it’s very costly and sometimes virtually impossible to apply common procedures and organizational standards which would create a successful universal IT service model. So it is very likely that any “consolidation” of the European web hosting industry to be just a short-lived and unsuccessful attempt to apply the American business practices into the European business environment.

The United Internet’s website does not differentiate from the finest traditions of corporate culture – to produce self-sufficient structures which are focused mostly on bragging about their own success. “With its clear focus on the growth markets internet access and cloud computing, United Internet is ideally placed to benefit from the expected market growth”, says the company’s website.

stuart-melling34SP.com is a Manchester, United Kingdom based website hosting company that has been around for almost a decade. In that time founding partners Daniel Foster and Stuart Melling have built a web hosting brand based on exceptional customer support and solid hosting plans at affordable prices. The following is an interview conducted with one of the founders, Mr. Stuart Melling regarding where the company has been, and what is planned for the future.

What is the origin of 34SP.com? How was the company idea launched?

We started almost 10 years ago. Myself and the company’s technical director started 34SP.com straight out of university, frustrated with the lack of suitable hosting for projects we undertook during our studies. We wanted to create something powerful, reliable and most importantly affordable. I like to think our tenth year in business highlights we weren’t the only ones who needed such a service.

What is the most exciting thing to you about being in the web hosting and Internet services business at this time?

I think the whole industry is exciting by it’s very nature. It would be hard to pick any one element. It is a fast paced environment where you cannot rest on your laurels, not for one moment. There is so much pressure competitively, that you rarely find yourself standing still. I like that challenge.

How is 34SP.com different than other hosting providers?

Quite quickly after the business began to build momentum, the mainstay of our efforts started to focus on customer support. That might sound a little cliched, but we live and breath customer service. Our marketing expenses are quite small for the industry. We thrive on customer referrals. Therefore, every decision we take is motivated by customer satisfaction. That theme runs through every department of our business. Call us up on the phone right now and I guarantee you a refreshing support or sales experience. You will speak to someone engaging, understanding and skilled.

What sorts of things interest you outside of work?

Outside of work? What does that mean? Well, when I do have a few microseconds break away from the office, it’s usually only as far away as the kitchen. I’m a complete foodie so I love to cook. The last year I’ve been really keen on Thai cooking and all the aromatic ingredients like kaffir lime, lemongrass and basil. I’m a dab hand if I do say so myself.

What have you learned over the past decade of business that will impact how you manage the company in the future?

In one word, people. Whether it’s a client or a staff member. Hosting is really a people business for me, the technical aspect I find increasingly less important (although I’m sure my technical colleagues would disagree!). I’m far less interested in storage arrays and buzzwords like cloud hosting. The people who make up our business is where I focus. If you listen to the people who actually use your services, and treat the people who support those customers – I think you really develop a win-win environment where everyone succeeds.

Are there any new products or developments that 34SP.com is currently working on?

Our product range continually evolves. We are seeing big growth inn our virtual servers and VPS range. As we grow, so do our long term customers, who are increasingly looking for hosting solutions more powerful than standard shared hosting. Thankfully we have been developing and refining our VPS plans for a couple of years now. As our clients grow, we have the perfect road map for them to keep on growing without worrying about server uptime, or resources.

About 34SP.com

34SP.com offers professional website hosting services for cost conscious web developers, designers and small businesses. The 34SP.com team of technical experts offers industry leading support and service coupled with a money back guarantee to ensure client satisfaction. Website hosting services offered include: reseller hosting, UK web hosting and dedicated servers. The company is headquartered in central Manchester, England.

Thomas Strohe of Intergenia: Everything Is More In WebHostingDay 2010

Posted by hosttycoon On February - 8 - 2010

thomas-stroheLast year was my first one at the WebhostingDay. I have made and interview with Kirsten Nothbaum of WHD team titled “WebhostingDay Brings Together The Brightest In The Industry” and went to the show after that. Some pictures from WebhostingDay have been published here after the conference. One year later I’m planing to go to WHD 2010 which takes place in the same Phantasialand near Cologne again. The 2010 event is focused on cloud computing and I have an increased expectations to learn some new things about the emerging cloud hosting industry, that I don’t know… I think it wouldn’t be hard ;)

The last year’s WHD was well organized and anyone who I met there said very kind word about the team behind the show. It is worth to attend. A month and a half before the show B10WH.com speaks to Thomas Strohe, the man behind the event. Take 10 minutes of your time to read our interview with him.

Hi Thomas, let me ask you first what is the difference between last year’s WebhostingDay and WHD 2010? Will you welcome more participants this year, is there a growing commercial interest, or any new sessions?

Of course, we hope that at least as many attendees as last year will sing up. And regarding current numbers, it looks more than promising (registration is still possible until March 4th). With regard to official WebhostingDay partners – these are the companies having talks or/and exhibiting at the fair – and media partners we could already achieve an increase as compared to 2009. Now there are almost 80 partners altogether, while there were about 60 of them last year. Therefore, we will have a completely redesigned fair area, more keynotes and more rooms for the so-called hosting.SESSIONs.

Has the cloud computing trend changed the agenda of this year’s WebhostingDay, if you compare it to 2009 even? Last year “cloud computing” was more a “magic phrase” than and something tangible. When you are looking at this year’s WHD, at the sponsors and participants, can you say that we have made a step ahead in process of moving to the clouds?

Yes, even last year the cloud was a very popular topic, which will be the case again this year. A great number of talks and sessions carry the word cloud in their title or it is at least mentioned in the abstract. Many of the presented solutions are designed for cloud computing or cloud hosting. Moreover, CloudCamp, a bar camp with experts from the cloud sector will be held again in the framework of WebhostingDay.

Please tell the readers of B10WH.com more about the WHD sessions. Which ones do you find most interesting, and which one was harder to organize? Who of the industry’s “marterminds” was harder to bring to speak at WHD?

In fact nobody had to be convinced to speak at WebhostingDay. The event is highly appreciated, and we even had to call off some potential speakers due to a lack of free speaking slots. But this was necessary, you know, as the schedule would have blown otherwise. However, panel discussions have now been added to the agenda, which allow for multiple speakers at a time to discuss current topics. These are probably very interesting for the audience, since different points of view are presented.

A part from IT giants like Microsoft and Intel last year Parallels looked like the one of the most important partners of WHD? Who is staring this year?

We are glad that we were able to enthuse those big players like Microsoft, Parallels, Intel, AMD, HP and Fujitsu for WebhostingDay again. But also the smaller businesses are very valuable partners for us, which either want to establish themselves or their products on the German market, or come from Europe and want to gain new customers from America or Asia by this means. The combination of “old hands” and newbies is what makes the event more diverting and interesting for visitors.

Do you have any partners who joined WHD for the first time this year?

Yes, there are several partners who have joined for the first time, e.g. GateSecure, who will be presenting a web filter, Genotec, an ISP from Switzerland, and STULZ, who work on data center cooling solutions, to name but a few.

On the website you say that WebHostingDay 2010 is “the most important web hosting event in the world”? Is the WHD really the biggest and most important event in web hosting industry? Do you compete for the top spot with HostingCon… or the WHD is focused mostly on the European web hosting markets?

Looking at the numbers of visitors and exhibitors, WebhostingDay really is the world’s largest web hosting event. And even if the majority comes from Europe today, we can detect a clear development to more and more international audience. By the way, we do not see HostingCon as a rival, but both events as having a friendly coexistence.

As an organizer of a major industry event you receive a lot of insight information which helps you to better understand the market’s developments. Let me ask you is the North American web hosting industry more innovative than the European markets… if we look at the cloud computing we will see that most cloud hosting providers we can find on the market are American?

I don’t think that North-American web hosting companies are more innovative than European companies. But the continent as a whole gets more attention due to giants like Google or Amazon. The potential of the cloud has been recognized in Europe, of course, and many companies begun developing very specialized solutions for B2B purposes. As many innovations are not targeting the end user, they are not talked about so much in the public. When visiting WebhostingDay you will be able to meet many of those companies and solutions.

How do use see the German hosting market from a cloud computing perspective? Are the German businesses more skeptical or enthusiastic when it comes to cloud computing and cloud hosting infrastructures?

Basically, German companies are open-minded for this topic, but it will probably take some time until a majority of companies has changed their infrastructure respectively. Especially in times of uncertain economic situations, people will likely wait and see until new things are tried and tested before investing into them.

I hope you can answer a question from a provider’s perspective. What do you think would happen with the “good old server” within the next year? Do you see many people who used to use physical dedicated servers to migrate to virtual machines?

As far as the respective offers are attractive regarding price and performance I see potential indeed. We have been offering virtually dedicated servers ourselves with one of our brands for many years now, which have gained more and more approval over the years. If the performance of these systems can meet the highest professional demands in future, it is likely that many people will choose this alternative in order to save some cost.

There has been a lot of talk about the financial crisis. It has become the most used “word” and probably the most used explanation of anyone’s business failure within the last 2 years… Is the current financial situation in Europe and Germany hitting the web hosting sector?

Luckily, the hosting industry has suffered quite little from the crisis so far. That is because server-based applications are used in every modern company for daily work, so that they cannot really cut down on them. Of course it happened here and there that some clients broke away because they became insolvent, but generally speaking it did not hurt the industry so badly.

Now I have a question about the WHD 2010. I’m curious why don’t you change the place or the time when WHD takes place? It is always in Phantasialand, which is OK, but if you decide to host the event between May and September there shall be much more fun for the attendees?

We are very satisfied with Phantasialand as conference venue, because it offers, for instance, a central location in Germany that can be reached easily from everywhere. Additionally, it has the equipment we need and we have made good experiences in working together with their team. Regarding the time, it is quite close to CeBIT, which attracts many visitors from abroad. That way they get the chance to combine both events in one journey. And if we made it in summer, the theme park would normally be open to the public and it would be impossible to close it for the event without causing unnecessary cost.

Did you get yourself in any funny situations during the last year’s WHD or through the years. Something related to the organization, any mistakes taht you would share today?

There are always some minor mishaps, of course, which cannot be avoided even by the best organization. This begins with the weather – in 2008 our signposts in the park were blown down by the strong wind – and continues in technics, e.g. when one of our presentation notebooks falls down in the lecture room and has to be replaced quickly. But apart from that we have been spared from greater disasters so far. No speaker that became ill shortly before the event or complete power outage etc. Let’s hope it remains that way!

I’m sure that every entrepreneur has a story to tell about who did they get down to their business. Please tell me yours!

I founded my first company when I was only 15 years old and sort of operated it from my room. I had the idea to start the company when I detected a market gap in Germany in the area of dedicated hosting. It was an advantageous time for the IT sector and the company was able to grow quickly. Together with the brothers Jochen and Christoph Berger I founded Intergenia a few years later.

What did make you to organize WebhostingDay. You would have a successful business without being involved in this venue. Does it help you to stay connected to others in web hosting industry and do you learn anything from being part of it?

That’s right, even without being organizers of a hosting event we would have been equally successful as a company. But we actually had in mind then that by exchanging views between industry colleagues many valuable synergies could develop from which all involved parties could profit. Even if it would only mean to get to know each other better, which makes business easier in the follow-up. There had just been no such forum in Europe before. I wanted to close this gap.

Thank you very much for taking some of your time to talk for B10WH. See you in Cologne.

Ethics And Web Hosting Business

Posted by The Daw On October - 24 - 2009

unethical-web-hosting-industryWhen we say “Ethics” we usually address questions about morality. In business the term “Ethics” (Business Ethics) refers to a form of applied ethics that examines ethical principles and problems that emerge in a business environment. Term “Ethics” applies to all  aspects of business… even to web hosting business, despite that many hosting providers obviously disagree with this (a conclusion we would make when carefully review their offerings, customer service and the way they promote themselves on the market).

I shall say that as any other markets of intangible business activities web hosting is quite unethical business. In general the web hosting market is more a competition of promotional techniques than a competition based on quality. The unethical competition was introduced into web hosting industry by the largest web hosts like Yahoo (the first major web host to introduce “unlimited disc space” in offerings) and many others who begun using disputable business practices to get customers and to fight competition. One of those practices is to give a hosting company a name which is very close to the one of already well-established market brand.

This was the case with RackShack, a popular dedicated hosting provider at the beginning of this decade. It attracted a lot of attention not just because of its aggressive dedicated server offerings, which included zero set0up fess cheap hardware and very poor technical support, but also because of manipulating the consumers by exploiting the concept and the name of an already well-established and very popular web hosting brand such as RackSpace.

Beginning with a conclusion that web hosting is in general unethical business – with both web hosting providers and their customers being unethical – in this “Have you say” story” B10WH will point your  attention to an ordinary discussion titled “Is it ethical web host practice?” which is taking place Web Hosting Talk forums titled. It was opened by a forum member signed as Jon.

“I’ll try to give my account as objectively as I can. I’m pretty upset/disappointed with my web host right now. What I want to know, is Is this how web hosts should treat their customers?” says Jon and explains that he went on vacation for 10 days, checking online for orders and was surprised that he hasn’t received any. He added that he was always on public computers and he had his emails forwarded to his Yahoo Mail.

When he got back for vacation, I found that I couldn’t access his e-mails directly and he also saw his website was “gone and in its place was a bunch of pay per click adds, with a note on top that the domain was expired”. Jon thought he had paid up for another year, and that decided that his web host would never treat him like. So he assumes that someone was pirating his website.

But when he has contacted his web hosting provider the company’s representative told him that he has paid his web hosting plan but his domain was for some reason left unpaid and expired. The Credit card Jon had on account with the web host has also expired.

At this point he would decide that it was obviously his fault that his domain wasn’t renewed in time. However Jon went to Web Hosting talk and said:

“At this point I’m somewhat tiffed that they would not only take down my site, but replace it with pay per click adds, but think “hey, certainly they tried to contact me. My email address I have on file with them must be out of date”. So I go into cpanel to update it, but no, it is current. They never even tried to contact me, not even sending an email.”

Jon explained to WHT members that his website “had no traffic for a week and a half” and at the time he opened a thread in the forum his site still “wasn’t showing up on Google searches”. “My traffic is down to 1/3 of normal. Seems I’ve heard that Google penalizes sites that are entirely made up of pay per click adds, and I think it likely that my site has been penalized because of my web hosts actions”, said Jon and asked “It’s impossible to determine how much this will end up costing me. I feel that when you hire somebody (i.e. a webhost) they should be on your side, not stab you in the back. I don’t know if what they did was illegal, but I certainly think it was unethical”. The he asked the forum members – “What is your take?”.

What have you said?

“Maniakaz” a WHT user from Lithuania responded: “If it is domain that expires, you should have received warning emails. At least I do get them from GoDaddy: warning, your domain expires after xx days, click there to renew it. Maybe these emails went to “spam” folder? re-check. Or ask a host if they did sent these emails. I think, you may want to change registrar to something more reliable, like Godaddy. And your host’s practices are weird. I can’t call it unethical: if client knows he will not receive any domain expiring email – customer should decide”.

Another forum member “Rumsfo” responded with these three sentences – “I assume uptime that is very important issue for the Google as for any other SE. I assume you need to move to another web hosting service and ask for the refund. I assume that would be fair enough”. This comment wasn’t very much on the topic, but the next one posted by member “Bihira” was pretty specific.

“Most hosting companies don’t use the email address in cPanel as the main contact for customer accounts. More than likely they have a billing script, you should look for this script and update your email address there. Also it’s pretty normal for registrars to put up ads on expired domains (e.g. I bilieve GoDaddy does this as well). Not saying it is right, but it’s unfortuantly the norm. Also I would never recommand GoDaddy as a registrar, just check out nodaddy.com for horror stories. Though generally it’s better if you keep your webhost and domain at seperate companies”, explained Bihira. The WHT user added that “there isn’t nothing your webhost could of done”, and explained that since Jon had an unpaid invoice for his domain the web host couldn’t renew the domain name before receiving a payment. “As they get charged a fee everytime they renew / register / transfer a domain. So they need to wait for you to pay the invoice” said also Bihira.

Another member with a forum name “fobic” singed as Chris said that he was “with Bihira on this one”. “To put it bluntly, you didn’t pay your domain renewal so it expired. Expired domains commonly show the registrar’s parking page – the ads page you saw is most likely the standard page for whatever registrar your host uses”, said Chris and added that the web host should have tried to contact Jon about the domain expiration and about the expired credit card on account. “I’m betting they did email you about this. For some reason you didn’t receive their emails and that’s unfortunate, but ultimately it’s still your responsibility to keep your details up to date and pay your bills on time” concluded Chris.

“NeutroHost [Nix]” posted that since it was a domain name issue, it was probably not the host’s fault. “The reality is that most webhosts resell through a domain name registrar like Enom or Namecheap and the ads are placed on your website by the domain name registrar when your domain name expires, not the host” said Nix and added “I can understand your frustration with the matter though, but it’s been the norm for a long time”.

“Sorry to hear about your troubles. Did you find out if your host tried to contact you? I would think at the very least the domain registrar send out a notice, unless your name and email address isn’t on the domain. You should make sure that your the registrant contact for any domain you own and keep the contact email address up-to-date at the domain registrar”, said “SphereWebHosting” in their post.

Then a pretty harsh but true comment came. A WHT member named “ieee488” said:

In all likelihood this is what happened. All domain registrars that I have used, and I have used about 6+ different ones, they notifiy you 60 days, sometimes 90 days in advance that your domain is expiring. That you didn’t get an email tells me either those emails went into your spam folder or you used a different email when registering your domain.

The person Jon should be pointing the finger at is HIMSELF.

The “ieee488” added that before Jon start throwing words like ‘unethical’ he had better know what he were doing and understand the actualy workings of webhosting and domain registration. “Otherwise, you look like an idiot”, said Ieee488. and added “My take is that you stabbed yourself in the back unless you for some reason pay for webhosting and domain registration combined”.

Jon obviously got affected from the last comment and responded: “This is why I posted the experience and asked if it was unethical, as it seemed to me. It’s also why I didn’t identify the web host. There is no need for name calling. I appreciate the comments about contact emails other than on cpanel. I’m sure that messages didn’t get sent to my spam folder, but I’ll look for other places they may have my email address on file”, said the troubled site owner.

“Jon, a hard lesson learned, unfortunately. IMO, (and I know many hosts will hate me for saying this), but I would never register my domain via a web host. I want complete autonomy for the domain registration. Register all your domains directly with an authorized registrar, and then buy your hosting from a web host. Keep them separate. And then make sure you stay on top of your domain renewals to ensure you don’t go through this grief again”, said someone with forum member “Vito” and his opinion was one of the best to the thread.

Then “ieee488” came again posting in aggressive style: “I repeat. No need to use the word ‘unethical’. You should have asked what could have happened and just leave it at that. I have no use for people who hide behind “what do you think?” after they have just accused someone of being ‘unethical’. Gutless.”, was his next post to the thread.

A WHT member “HostColor” suggested in the next post that that Jon must not be disappointed and must not blame his web hosting provider. “You are responsible for the domain name as it is yours. Even if the hosting provider didn’t send a notification you still had to take care of the domain renewal. It is your web address, your property”, explained “HostColor”.

THe user added that the domain registrar was probably the one to point the name servers to page different from Jon’s index page and displayed ads there. “This is another way for domain registrars to make money of expired domain names”, added the WHT user. His final suggestion to Jon was “Just keep everything into account. A reasonable question would be “Why did I miss to renew my domain name?”

These are only a few selected opinions expressed from WHt members in the thread titled “Is this ethical web host practice?“. I would say that it shows very clear that not just the providers are those who act unethical in web hosting industry. In fact Jon didn’t been unethical and didn’t harmed its web host’s reputation by posting company’s name in the thread in which he expressed his disappointment of the service. Although Jon haven’t been responsible enough for renewing his domain name on time he was decent in his WHT thread, something that is ethical in an unethical market.