Posts Tagged 'Process'

May 7, 2013

Tips from the Abuse Department: DMCA Takedown Notices

If you are in the web hosting business or you provide users with access to store content on your servers, chances are that you're familiar with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). If you aren't familiar with it, you certainly should be. All it takes is one client plagiarizing an article or using a filesharing program unscrupulously, and you could find yourself the recipient of a scary DMCA notice from a copyright holder. We've talked before about how to file a DMCA complaint with SoftLayer, but we haven't talked in detail about SoftLayer's role in processing DMCA complaints or what you should do if you find yourself on the receiving end of a copyright infringement notification.

The most important thing to understand when it comes to the way the abuse team handles DMCA complaints is that our procedures aren't just SoftLayer policy — they are the law. Our role in processing copyright complaints is essentially that of a middleman. In order to protect our Safe Harbor status under the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA), we must enforce any complaint that meets the legal requirements of a takedown notice. That DMCA complaint must contain specific elements and be properly formatted in order to be considered valid.

Responding to a DMCA Complaint

When we receive a complaint that meets the legal requirements of a DMCA takedown notice, we must relay the complaint to our direct customer and enforce a deadline for removal of the violating material. We are obligated to remove access to infringing content when we are notified about it, and we aren't able to make a determination about the validity of a claim beyond confirming that all DMCA requirements are met.

The law states that SoftLayer must act expeditiously, so if you receive notification of a DMCA complaint, it's important that you acknowledge the ticket that the abuse department opened on your account and let us know your intended course of action. Sometimes that action is as simple as removing an infringing URL. Sometimes you may need to contact your client and instruct them to take the material down. Whatever the case may be, it's important to be responsive and to expressly confirm when you have complied and removed the material. Failure to acknowledge an abuse ticket can result in disconnection of service, and in the case of copyright infringement, SoftLayer has a legal obligation to remove access to the material or we face serious liability.

DMCA Counter Notifications

Most DMCA complaints are resolved without issue, but what happens if you disagree with the complaint? What if you own the material and a disgruntled former business partner is trying to get revenge? What if you wrote the content and the complaining party is copying your website? Thankfully there are penalties for filing a false DMCA complaint, but you also have recourse in the form of a counter notification. Keep in mind that while it may be tempting to plead your case to the abuse department, our role is not to play judge or jury but to allow the process to work as it was designed.

In some cases, you may be able to work out a resolution with the complaining party directly (misunderstandings happen, licenses lapse, etc.) and have them send a retraction, but most of the time your best course of action is to submit a counter notification.

Just as a takedown notice must be crafted in a specific way, counter notifications have their own set of requirements. Once you have disabled the material identified in the original complaint, we can provide your valid, properly formatted counter notification to the complaining party. Unless we receive a court order from the complaining party within the legally mandated time frame the material can be re-enabled and the case is closed for the time being.

While it might sound complicated, it's actually pretty straightforward, but we urge you to do your research and make sure you know what to do in the event a client of yours is hit with a DMCA takedown notice. Just as we are unable to make judgment calls when it comes to takedown notices or counter notifications, we are also unable to offer any legal advice for you if you need help. Hopefully this post cleared up a few questions and misconceptions about how the abuse department handles copyright complaints. In short:

Do take DMCA notifications seriously. You are at risk for service interruption and possible legal liability.
Do respond to the abuse department letting them know the material has been disabled and, if applicable, if you plan to file a counter notification.
Don't refuse to disable the material. Even if you believe the claim is false and you wish to file a counter notification, the material must be disabled within the time period allotted by the abuse department or we have to block access to it.
Don't expect the abuse department to take sides.

As with any abuse issue, communication and responsiveness is important. Disconnecting your server is a last resort, but we have ethical and legal obligations to uphold. The DMCA process certainly has its weaknesses and it leaves a bit to be desired, but at the end of the day, it's the law, and we have to operate inside of our legal obligation to it.

-Jennifer

March 17, 2010

Redrum

How many of you when you were kids were scared to death of the movie The Shining? I know I was. I think it still scares me today. The movie even made a little kid scary; his voice is what pulled it off. I can still get in trouble with my wife for getting our 6 year old to say "redrum" in a scratchy, scary voice.*

What do The Shining and redrum have to do with SoftLayer? We're all about redrum but only when it comes to destroying left over customer data. What do I mean by destroying customer data you ask?

When you have a server that you spent Capex on and have it in front of you and can touch it and set coffee on it or use it for a plant stand, you know where your data is. When you replace that server or upgrade the hard drive you can then do what most people do with the old one and chunk it in the dumpster or be a little more secure and format the hard drive or even a little more secure and take the drive out and smash it into pieces. Now, that is secure.

So what do you do when you outsource your hardware to a provider like SoftLayer? You put your old data in our hands and we redrum the data and make Jack Nicholson seem like an angel.

It is a little more difficult for us to protect your old data because we are an on-demand provider. When you cancel a server we reuse that server for another customer. You probably don't want your data in that new customers hands so we have to do a little more than format the drive and we can't just take it outside and bash it into pieces because then we couldn't reuse the drive. So we use a little technology to make sure your old data is safe.

When you cancel a server, it sits in limbo for a while just to make sure we can't change your mind and have you keep it. After the waiting period we erase the data. This is a destructive process, so when you do cancel a server, make sure you have the data you still require somewhere else. Our system uses algorithms developed by the Department of Defense and several independent agencies that are considered military grade as defined by the DOD 5220.22-M (sounds official right?). Utilizing this process residual drive data is destroyed. This process is monitored and logged and we can track the history of any drive. Once complete the drive is ready to be redeployed to a new customer.

I know you are thinking, "That isn't redrum," but what do we do with a drive when it is at the end of its productive life? If it's too small, not fast enough, or dead and out of warranty? We redrum it for sure! We complete the steps above and then send them offsite to get destroyed and then get them back after they are destroyed for tracking and verification of redrum! Yes, we could get them shredded but then we would have no proof they were destroyed. Here is what they look like when they return:

hard drive 1
Note the hole in the center.
hard drive 2
This is looking down from the "top".
hard drive 3
And last but not least, a view from the bottom. Note the platters are bent and protruding through the board.

*Just in case you haven't seen The Shining (Spoiler Alert) a small boy in the movie mumbles "redrum" in an eerie voice in the beginning of the movie. He continues to say it more and more and finally he writes it on the bathroom door. When you see it reversed in the bathroom mirror you then understand what he is saying.

-@Skinman454

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