Web hosting is the backbone of the internet. It enables it to stand upright and support everything. Content remains the lifeblood of the internet and is the reigning force that keeps the machine going. But what happens when those two things clash? When hosting companies do not have stringent rules in place for what their clients decide to provide as content for their clients? The short answer is, you get a lot of internet piracy and violations of intellectual property rights.
In April 2019, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released its annual report on Intellectual Property Protection and Review of Notorious Markets for Piracy and Counterfeiting.
“Washington, DC – The Office of the United States Trade Representative today released its annual Special 301 Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of trading partners’ protection of intellectual property rights and the findings of its Notorious Markets List, which highlights online and physical markets that reportedly engage in and facilitate substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting”.
The report clearly identifies ‘Notorious Markets’ involved in pirating copyright-protected content on the internet. The violation of internet property rights on the internet isn’t new and popular sites for torrenting and internet piracy have been policed for quite some time. What’s most interesting though is that a lot of these websites use a US -based host while the USTR has made it its public mandate to persecute 36 countries on the watchlist for internet piracy.
Here’s why all of this is important.
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Copyright infringement & internet piracy
Imagine spending hours creating compelling content in the form of blog posts and white papers that you’ve spent hours researching. You’ve even spent hours crafting podcast audio, instructional and informative videos and stunning images for your brand and business. Then you find out that someone stole all of your work and gave it to customers around the globe without your knowledge.
How would you feel? Knowing that without limits someone pirates, repackages and sells your intellectual property?
Real life problem
The reality is copyright infringement and internet piracy is real and affects many content creators across the internet. This isn’t just a reality for big-name producers like blockbuster movies, tv shows, performing and recording artists, this is a real-life problem for regular individuals too.
For years pirate sites like Pirate Bay, torrent websites like Kickass Torrents have been in the business of offering movies, music, books, software, and so much more for free. This is a direct violation of intellectual property rights, copyright laws and in some cases trademark laws.
Websites are launched daily that provide stolen content to users unwilling to pay for it and a myriad of hosting companies facilitate these websites without any stringent policies in effect for the type of content they can produce on their websites. This is problematic for many reasons.
- First, it undermines and causes major harm to the digital marketplace. Especially for legitimate music, movies, television and other forms of content.
- It harms the economy and cuts the profit margins of all online businesses creating content for paid consumption.
- Not to mention, it is a violation of respect towards a creators’ right to owning their intellectual property.
Pro tip: Always ensure that you’ve gone through the necessary channels to protect your content and intellectual property. While it is hard to take legal action against Titans in the internet piracy business, you should still take the necessary precautions.
US hosting companies and pirate websites
While the United States and the USTR have enforced international laws against internet piracy and has put major pressure on countries to actively disrupt the practice and take down major criminal websites like with urging Sweden to remove The Pirate Bay from the internet; a lot of these criminal websites are hosted by US-based hosting companies.
In fact, a third of the websites owned by pirate websites are hosted by US hosting companies. So why is the US putting so much pressure on other countries to end internet piracy while it continues to happen in their own jurisdiction?
Should other business owners be concerned about hosting their websites with US-based host that provide services to internet pirates? The term “guilty by association comes to mind”, but it is never that black and white.
Certainly, hosting companies are not automatically liable. However, if they downright ignore complaints against pirate sites, they may be held liable. Though that is something for a court to decide. Sadly, it may be perfectly acceptable to host these pirate sites.
While American companies share responsibility with hosting these domains, so do some European companies. For example, A popular Dutch hosting provider host 289 pirate websites, that translates to 13% of internet piracy.
Turns out the United States and Europe must clean house while they continue to police other countries where internet hosting providers give prime internet real estate to online pirates.
Are hosting companies liable for what their clients provide on their websites?
This is not a clear-cut question with a yes or no answer. Internet Hosting companies are usually not obligated to enforce rules on the type of content users can host. However, going forward in an effort to, create a safe space on the internet for paid content, they should.
Wouldn’t you as a business owner feel better if you were guaranteed that your hosting company didn’t inadvertently provide a place for internet pirates to operate from?
At Hosting.uk, we are dedicated to offering great hosting services that live up to internet ethical practices of protecting your intellectual property and ensuring that no one else infringes on your copyright and trademarks.
What to consider when choosing a hosting provider
When considering a hosting provider for your new website, you want to ensure that these key things are in place.
1. Their hosting solutions are completely scalable.
First-time website owners typically select shared web hosting plans. While it has come a long way and includes options that expands your business as it grows, consider more advanced premium offers like VPS and Dedicated hosting. Your business will grow so make sure that your hosting company will equip you as you grow.
2. They have 99.99% guaranteed uptime across their hosting environments.
Guaranteed uptime is one of the most crucial aspects to demand from your hosting provider. You don’t want to have to worry about your website being knocked offline for extended periods of time. This can severely tarnish your brand’s awareness and diminish the trust your audience has in you. So, make sure that the hosting provider you select offers 100 percent money back guarantee for its hosting solutions.
3. 24/7 Technical support and managed options for VPS and dedicated servers
You need a host that will have a knowledgeable technical team, prepared to answer your questions, troubleshoot your issues, and help you migrate or upgrade services. This is invaluable because anything can go wrong at any time. So 24/7 support is imperative. Your host should be there in the event that you really need to phone a friend.
If you’re concerned with sharing internet space with pirate sites, then migration to a powerful UK host maybe be the most viable option for you. Internet Piracy is a nasty business and no one wants to have their intellectual property stolen or their rights violated. Also, you many not want to associate your brand with a host who is unaware of criminals violating creative rights. Luckily there is a hosting alternative that can help.