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Where Does the Fault Lay?

Where Does the Fault Lay

It takes a lot of work to monitor several web sites. Multiply that by thousands and one can imagine the impossibility of being fully informed as to the content of each and every web site. This is the difficulty that faces web hosting providers on a daily basis. Most web sites are legitimate and do not present or sell illegal goods, services or content. This is not always the case. The question then presented is, who is at fault: the owner of the web site or the web hosting provider?

Illegal Content

The basic rule of thumb in determining if something could be considered illegal within a web site is realizing the same legalities hold true as in the real world. If it would be illegal to present or sell in the real world, it is illegal on the Internet.

Additionally, copyright and trademark issues can come into play. Taking someone’s images, videos, audio, text or other copyrighted or trademarked information and placing it within one’s own web site without expressed permission is illegal.

Defamatory, libelous and threatening or abusive information can also be considered illegal. Racist and xenophobic materials and information also fall into the illegal category. Child pornography is yet another item that is considered illegal both in the real world and on the Internet.

It should go without saying, however, the sale of illegal drugs and alcohol (without the proper licensing) are both also highly illegal.

Also on the “not legal” list are any attempts to hack, create denial of service attacks or commit fraud.

Covering Their Legal Bases

Because there have been many instances in the past with people placing any number of illegal products, services and data onto their web sites, web hosting providers these days will have a remarkably clear and descriptive clause within their Terms of Service that outlines their policies and remedies in this matter. Nearly every web hosting provider will have a link to their Terms of Service clearly showing on their web site. A perfect example of the wording of most hosting providers’ Terms of Service can be seen at InMotion Hosting.

The specific clauses in web hosting providers Terms of Service enable them to ensure they will not be held responsible should a web site be found with illegal content.


If a web site is found with illegal information, the fault will usually lay with the web site owner. The only instances this may not hold true is if the web hosting provider did not have clearly stated clauses within their Terms of Service or, worse yet, had no Terms of Service at all. At that point, the fault will then be shifted to the web hosting provider as the web site owner can declare ignorance.

It is a lamentable fact that there are a few hosting companies out there who do not clearly define their policies and standards on illegal content. All it takes is one large sting by concerned citizens and those web hosting providers will jump quickly to remedy this particular blind spot.

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2nd January 2010
Posted by Web Hosting Consultant in Best Web Hosting Tips
Tags: fault lay, illegal content, illegal website content, legal bases, terms of service

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