As news began to spread, Mr. Rider’s friends and colleagues began emailing 1and1 to question their motivation. A representative of 1and1 responded, however they appeared to have changed their story. Instead of repeating the alleged copyright violations, bandwidth concerns were cited.
“I am sorry that you feel this way. However bit torrent generates a lot of traffic and is too hard to keep under control. If we allow bit torrent on our shared system this would create a huge influx in traffic. Also even though people using the bit torrent for good purposes such a promoting there own work or whatever it might be. It is mainly used to download copyrighted files of music, video, etc. If we are allow this on our service we could have a lot of legal issues to deal with that could just be avoided. I apologize for this inconvenience again and hope you have a good day.”
Apparently, the 1and1 web host representative answering these inquiries was unaware of the characteristics of the BitTorrent protocol. Mr. Rider’s BitTorrent tracker generates virtually no bandwidth, unless you consider that each of his three torrent files total just over 1 Kilobyte each. Individuals downloading torrent files does not “allow” BitTorrent onto “their shared system” or “create a huge influx in traffic.” This traffic exists on Tier 1 ISP backbones, not on web hosting ISPs.
Interestingly, while 1and1 expressed concern regarding the “huge influx in traffic”, Mr. Rider received another email from his web host that made the situation even more bizarre.
“To add to the silliness of the situation, I received another letter I believe to be auto-generated last night. This one was from their director of online marketing and sales, and it stated that they had noticed shawnrider.com was sending a lot of traffic to 1and1.com and inquired whether I had ever considered becoming a 1and1 affiliate.”
Slyck.com emailed 1and1 web hosting and questioned the practice of using a blanket policy to deter piracy. In addition, Slyck inquired why Mr. Rider received a copyright violation notice for distributing his own work. Several hours later, we received an email from Dave Donati, 1and1’s U.S. Public Relations Manager
“In recent days a 1&1 Internet support agent incorrectly informed a customer that the use of BitTorrent(c) on certain 1&1 systems is not permitted. The support agent's statement was based on a misinterpretation of company policy and an incorrect analysis of available data. When it was determined that the customer was erroneously advised, the situation was rectified and the customer was notified that the use of BitTorrent is allowed.”
“1&1 deeply regrets any confusion this mistake has caused. To better address customer concerns on this matter in the future, we are in the process of updating the "Q&A" section of our Website to include detailed information clarifying the use of BitTorrent with our various hosting packages.”
In the end, this story ended well for Mr. Rider. However, this situation highlights the misconception that surrounds file-sharing and the P2P world. There are many uses for this technology, and just like any technology, it can be exploited for both good and bad.