Wow. So we are back online and in full strength again. But it was a long fight. I will disclose few details and what was really going on from my point of view. It’s been a really unusual downtime, considering both its reason and its length. But let’s start from the beginning.
Almost a week ago, we (and many others) received a takedown request from infamous Web Sherrif. The release in question was Franz Ferdinand’s new album Tonight. That itself is a delicate case: Franz Ferdinand is a Scottish band which encouraged piracy few years ago. They specifically mentioned Limewire and other p2p applications and offered few tracks for free. They also said they themselves download illegal stuff from internet. Now, they (or their distributor Domino Records ot be exact) hire Web Sherrif to pursue everyone who would want to share their newest leaked album. Talk about turnaround.
This takedown request from Web Sherrif was a one big joke from the very beginning. As you probably know, we do not host any content on our servers and we do not offer anything for download. Therefore we have nothing to remove. We only inform about new releases and eventually link to third party servers where you can download them (the very same thing Google does and noone cares). Most of the download links is posted by our readers anyway. The quote in the request ("your web-site has published and is digitally distributing“) is therefore completely false. We didn’t publish anything. We just wrote about it.
Another funny thing about the takedown notice was they couldn’t even write our URL properly. They wrote "rslog.net" instead of our proper URL, so I replied to them I don’t own this website. They didn’t get it and stepped up their idocy: "you must also arrange for the following apology to be published on the relevant page of the site for a period of seven (7) days :“RSLOG wishes to apologies to Franz Ferdinand, Domino Records and Web Sheriff for the disruption caused to their sales, marketing and promotion plans by our publishing of pirate file details relating to the unreleased album “Tonight”.”
I couldn’t help myself but reply in a similarly stupid manner: “Thanks for good laugh. once again, learn to type instead of drinking brandy in saloon. Yours Old Shaterhand." This was the very last piece of communication we had with Web Sherrif. I guess they got pissed and realized this won’t really work. So they moved to higher level. They contacted our host, which kindly asked us to remove download links from the article, which we really did (Google Cache). One would think this is the end of the story.
But it wasn’t. Instead, suddenly our website stopped working. It came like a complete surprise with no explanation. Of course, I inquired with our host what’s going on, but they seemed to not really care about replying fast. Their usual response time is circa 24 hours and even more during weekends, which is one of the reasons why I’ve been thinking about moving away from them for a long time – but never actually did it. After a day of struggling, they finally replied: Web Sherrif sent the very same request to their bandwidth provider and they, instead of protecting the rights of their customers or analyzing anything, completely shut down the servers and nullrouted the IPs. Fair enough.
So for the rest of the time, I’ve been trying to find out what to do next and instantly started negotiating with different hosting companies about new servers. Don’t be fooled – RLSLOG is terribly huge and I found out almost no hosting is able to have servers for us ready in acceptable time span. The communication was also very scarce because of the weekend and tens of international calls I made didn’t really help. Day after day continued with no replies and no good news. And then, out of sudden, yesterday shortly before midnight, a miracle email came: “Your servers are online.” No explanation, no details, nothing.
This whole thing taught me a few things. For starters, you can’t believe anyone unless you know him personally and even then things may screw up. Second, hosting companies are scared shitless, slow with replies and don’t really care about their customers, although we didn’t do anything illegal or wrong. Third, it’s always good to have a backup plan (in our case, backup servers ready to host the site in case of something similar happens), because it takes many days before hosting companies set you up with something.
If you take it from the other side, we did our best to get over it. We moved the domain to a temp server to at least inform you what’s going on. We made a private temporary blog and prepared all posts there to have them ready when we get back online. We informed you about new releases at our forums. We mailed Franz Ferdinand and asked them if they are happy now. And we still rock. Thanks everyone who offered me help during the tough time, it was extremely stressful period of time for me. Let’s hope this was the last portion of bad luck in 2009. And let’s hope assholes like Web Sherrif will rot in hell. They deserve it.