Last week we reported that Web Sheriff, hired by Franz Ferdinand’s label Domino Records, was taking an aggressive stance towards anyone posting links to the band’s new album ‘Tonight’. Sites like SceneReleases and RLSlog did their regular reporting on the leak of the album, with the usual links to sites like Rapidshare that briefly hosted the album. Very quickly these external sites removed access to the album, rendering the links still displayed on SceneReleases and RLSlog useless.
After making threats to SceneReleases, the anti-piracy outfit turned its attentions to RLSlog, demanding that the site display a full apology to Franz Ferdinand on its homepage. Of course, RLSlog wasn’t about to apologize but did remove the links, as a look at Google’s cache of the ‘offending’ page reveals. However, that wasn’t enough for Web Sheriff, and he decided to teach RLSlog a lesson.
Two days ago, RLSlog went down. Initially thought to be the victim of a DDoS attack, the site fired off emails to its host in the Netherlands to find out what was happening. Since it was the weekend, responses were expected to be less sharp than during the week, but it took the host a full two days to reply. When it did, the news wasn’t good.
Following complaints sent to the host and the host’s bandwidth provider, RLSlog’s host completely disabled the site. There was no discussion and no checking the validity of Web Sheriff’s claims. If the host had bothered to check any supposed links to the album, they would have seen that the links were gone. Indeed, the links were all dead before we reported on the situation last Wednesday. Nevertheless, the host completely disconnected the site, with no warning.
At this stage it’s still unclear if RLSlog’s host will reactivate the site but if they don’t, it won’t be the end of the world. RLSlog is fully prepared for disaster recovery and has everything in place to simply move to a new host, should that prove necessary. Of course, this might take a little time but the site will return. In the meantime, although RLSlog is down, their forums are up at RLStalk. They are running a little slowly at times but appear fully functional.
This takedown is quite the metaphorical ‘feather in the cap’ for the Web Sheriff, using their pages of legal jargon to great effect and successfully intimidating a weak host into a knee-jerk takedown. However, there is an unintended side-effect to these ‘cut-and-paste’ warnings. While researching Web Sheriff’s attempted takedowns of ‘Tonight’, I discovered a very easy way to find dozens of release sites and music blogs that i’d never heard of before, using a simple Google search.
Despite being very active in getting links to the album removed, Web Sheriff’s old nemesis The Pirate Bay still tracks ‘Tonight’. As far as we know, they didn’t ask them to remove the torrent. No point really, they already know the answer.