The first thing you need to know is: We are back in control of our data and are moving with deliberation rather than with speed to
- Transfer the site to a new host with a reputation for supporting its customers, in a country where the acronym "DMCA" doesn't panic web hosts into squatting, peeing on the floor and doing whatever they're told; and
- Set up mirroring, etc. so that we are never, ever, not even for a minute, not in control of our data again.
We initially found ourselves arrayed against three opponents: A Belgian Islamaphobe, whom I will no longer name for reasons I'll explain in a moment; an Illinois attorney by the name of JD Obenberger; and Bluehost, the web hosting provider where, until Monday, the C4SS site resided.
The first of those opponents now privately assures us that he unconditionally surrenders, which is why I won't be naming him any more (unless the surrender proves to be a ruse). He initiated the series of events resulting in the takedown of the C4SS site because he feared the consequences of his political statements appearing in a public venue. Our response to the takedown was to ensure that those political statements received an exponentially increasing amount of the attention he didn't want them to get. He got schooled, in other words, on the Streisand Effect. And now he is cutting his losses, and says he'll be instructing his attorney to withdraw the frivolous, meritless, malicious and abusive DMCA takedown notice that resulted in our site outage. Can't say I blame him.
The attorney, in my opinion, is another case entirely. To put it as bluntly as I know how to put it, Mr. Obenberger is a penny-ante barrater who hides behind an alleged commitment to free speech while abusing copyright law to take down a political web site on grounds that he knew damn well were false. This isn't a departure from form for him -- he brags about his methods. He knew that he could send Bluehost a frivolous, meritless, malicious and abusive DMCA takedown notice and get the results he wanted, and that's what he did. To quote Obenberger himself:
If you write the request for a takedown on a leaf of stale cabbage in magic marker, without stating any reason or offering any proof or affidavit pursuant to the DMCA, and transmit it by a casual, friendly courier, who works a garbage truck route running past their office and offers to drop it off for you, most of them will take it down fairly immediately, within hours, because they are more afraid of you and your attorneys than they are of the posters.
He wrote the DMCA takedown notice knowing (hell, admitting in the text of the notice itself) that it was frivolous, meritless, malicious and abusive -- because he knew it would work, and because he got paid to do it. And merely getting the takedown reversed will neither deprive him of the financial gain he enjoyed from filing it nor discourage him from engaging in similar abuses in the future.
I am strongly of the opinion that Obenberger needs to be handled much as Rome dealt with Carthage in the Third Punic War. The Internet community -- not just anarchists, but anyone concerned with free speech and freedom of information -- needs to come together to strip him of his current client base and deprive him of his undeserved credibility in the eyes of prospective future clients. If he's still practicing law a year from now, he should be reduced to begging for cases of the classified-ad-style quickie bankruptcy, divorce or DUI defense variety.
Think it can't be done? It can be done. Remember Righthaven?
I'm of two minds about Bluehost. The farthest I'm willing to go against them right now is a strong negative recommendation.
They shut down a customer of several years' standing in the face of a clearly illegitimate takedown notice.
I understand why they did it ... it's easier to just mass-comply with this stuff than to research each notice.
Well, just because it's easier, that doesn't make it right. While C4SS was reasonably sure that we were on firm fair use ground in the piece at issue, it took about five minutes to research that and confirm it beyond reasonable doubt once we were forced to. It would have taken Bluehost the same five minutes. If several years of hosting payments aren't worth five minutes of research before shutting the customer down, they don't value their customers very much.
Since we're going to be moving anyway, as mentioned above we are going to move in a way that makes us more secure against attacks of the type we just weathered.
That will take some time. Not a long time, but some time.
It will also take some money. Not a lot of money, but some money, apropos of which: