Many of us OpenSRSers are in Rust, Germany this week for the WHD.global show. To give you a flavour of what this conference is all about, I’ve attended a few sessions and will provide some notes here.
Today I took in a very interesting session at WHD.global talking about the recent Megaupload case and the impacts on hosting companies.
The presenter was David Snead, an American attorney specializing in Internet business law and advice.
David took some time to explain the Megaupload case, and the indictment, specifically around what Megaupload is alleged to have done. You can read a very good article about the case from the New York Times, so I won’t go into details here.
David summarized the key learnings for hosting companies as it pertains to being the hosting providers for businesses like Megaupload.com. It’s very important, obviously, for hosters to ensure they are properly protected from any legal implications that might come as a result of being the provider to a company like Megaupload.com.
There are a number of key points for hosters:
- Understand jurisdiction: David points out that governments often try to extend jurisdiction outside traditional borders. In the case of Megaupload, the servers were in the USA, data travelled through other countries and employees of the company were found in seven different countries.
- Boot bad users: David suggests that hosters not be shy about firing bad customers. Once the hoster is aware that a customer is doing something that is outside of what the law allows (or even close), it’s important that the hoster act to remove that customer, or potentially face legal issues themselves.
- Have Terms of Service that work: the basis of being able to ensure customers are not participating in illegal activities is to have an effective and functional terms of service that is enforceable.
- Understand culture and how that plays into enforcement: David suggests that it is critical to understand the cultural customs and laws outside of the hoster’s own country and in any areas where the hosting company might reach. That means they need to be aware of things like gambling customs in certain countries and US states, anti-government and free-speech issues in some places, and of course intellectual property and copyright issues in many countries.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider here for hosters. The most important thing is that hosting companies make themselves aware of the current situation as it pertains to legal issues, and also that they seek out legal help and advice when required.