While I wasn’t thrilled to get shut down for 12 hours, I’m determined to salvage some sort of lesson for independent music business out of all this. That’s what I do.
Well, I’m not sure what caused the suspension of my account overnight, but it happened outside of the hosting service’s office hours, and as far as I can figure, it seems to have been the result of a faulty WordPress plugin, exacerbated by a massive increase in traffic.
Sorry to the people who phoned and got my voicemail — I was actually out DJ-ing when it happened.
In the meantime, I’ve received a huge number of emails from people concerned about what might have happened to the site. After all, there was a lot of material for a suspicious mind to work with there.
Despite the company’s 24-hour email support, I wasn’t able to get any response from them after their initial notification that the site had been switched off. This morning, now they’re back at work, they’ve switched it back on and have asked me to resolve the technical issues.
Well — I’ll do my best. I know how to install and uninstall WordPress plugins. I’m not the most technically-minded guy on the planet, and I’m certainly not going to go and learn how to debug scripts because of this. But I know some clever and generous people.
Legal threats and takedown notices
While most people who wrote thought that there was some link between the IFPI and the site’s disappearance, that does look unlikely at this point. I haven’t heard anything that might support that theory.
All the same, I was incredibly grateful to Richard Esguerra from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who wrote with this useful list of links:
EFF – Legal Guide for Bloggers
EFF – Bloggers’ FAQ – Overview of Legal Liability Issues
EFF – Bloggers’ FAQ – Intellectual Property
EFF How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else)
EFF – Bloggers’ FAQ – Section 230 Protections
EFF – Bloggers’ FAQ – Index of Questions
Additionally, I recommend that you visit the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse website. The Chilling Effects site is an online informational resource that addresses Internet law issues: (cease and desists, trademark/copyright claims, parody/gripe sites, anonymity, defamation, cybersquatting, UDRP process, reverse engineering, linking etc.)
The FAQ sections go into detail about situations similar to yours and how to tell if someone has a legitimate claim against you. The site has a database of cease and desist letters to which you can also submit copies of any take-down notice you receive.
I recall reading a bit of controversy about linking. The Chilling Effects Linking FAQ may answer some questions for you.
The Chilling Effects Defamation FAQ may also be informative.
Note that many of these resources frame the issues according to US law; depending on the nature of your dispute and the parties interested, the laws may work differently.
True. I’m in the UK, where the laws are significantly different. All the same, many of the basic principles apply, and Internet Freedom is a British website that will be of interest to anyone concerned with issues like these.
But there’s no legal wrangling going on here, as far as I can make out. Just a case of the wheels falling off while driving too fast.
UPDATE (31 Oct 2016): Tim Jackson of Who Is Hosting This has provided this
Bloggers’ Guide to Online Defamation to replace an old, dead EFF link. Thanks Tim!
This should happen to you
But it just goes to show that the tipping point from modest online venture to talk of the town can happen pretty fast. I don’t have to be able to do the coding thing in order to have a website that attracts tens of thousands of visitors in a 24-hour period.
And perhaps that’s the lesson here. With just a little bit of knowledge, it’s possible to get a website up online, talk about music, and get a lot of attention.
This should be your record label, your band, your venue, your publishing company. Except for the getting shut down bit.
Music is, after all, phenomenally important to most people. It absolutely boggles the mind that the people who run organisations that deal with something that adds so much value to everyone’s lives can make themselves so unpopular in the process.
Bring a friend
I’ve just heard that this site is approaching the front page on Digg.com, which is a pretty significant driver of traffic, so I’m bracing myself for the next onslaught.
Thanks to everyone who’s visited, linked to the site, thought about the issues and had their say. It’s been pretty overwhelming and a little bit humbling to get that sort of support from so many people — including people whose sites I read religiously so I can know what I’m talking about.
Hopefully I’ll be able to get any residual bugs ironed out quickly, and normal service will resume without further incident.
You’ll notice that the post about time management for music business that I wrote and timed to hit the site this morning went live with no difficulties.
Thanks for coming
Since you’re here, please help yourself to my free e-book as my gift. It won’t tell you what to do when your website gets closed down or how to deal with a sudden rush of traffic from every corner of the internet — but it will tell you 20 Things You Must Know About Music Online.