I want to personally thank every one who commented on this particular incident. It has been an excellent learning experience for me and by extension, Cedars and my other web clients.
Another close friend of mine who occasionally posts here was able to do a little more research on this subject. One of his sources states clearly that letters and other non-distributed works of all types (letters, video, audio, graphics, etc.) ARE protected under the copyright statutes. They do not need the copyright symbol or any text announcing their copyrights. Therefore, the Watchtower had every right to request the takedown.
If I owned the server outright then they could come after me personally. I would then have had the right to challenge them and perhaps force them to get a court order. Or, perhaps I could have negotiated with them and agreed to alter my use of that document or any of their correspondence not clearly identified as being "copyrighted." But in this case, I did not own the server; I was renting it and then using it to support websites and email services for myself and numerous other friends and clients.
Since the hosting company had access to "the switch" that allows the contents of that server to access the Internet, it was their decision to either support me (their client - little guy living on the edge of poverty in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest paying them a couple hundred a year for the use of their server) - or fight the complaintant (the big wealthy corporation in Patterson, NY with lots of attorneys and God on their side).
If you were the big hosting company in Scottsdale, what would you do?
That's what they did. And correctly so.
The truth is that the big hosting company has to protect its own assets and the DMCA guidelines tell them exactly how to do that. And big hosting company did exactly what they had to do: They sent me an email notice and gave me five days to respond or take the offending document down. They did not want to face the prospect of fighting a lawsuit against the NY corporation with lots of attorneys. Big hosting company did nothing wrong and only what they were required to do under the law.
My problem was that the only email they sent to me went to a utility email box that catches notices of spam attacks, website subscriber registrations, and most of the usual spammy emails from companies who promise that they can get me to "number one on Google's search engine." The Watchtower chose to order the takedown on Christmas Day. The big hosting company sent the email on the following weekend just before another holiday. Guess what I was doing in my shack in the wilds of the Willamette Valley? Watching football and tasting wine - lots of "tasting."
So I missed reading that notice. By the time I went looking for it (big hosting company said they sent it, but that's all they would say other than they wouldn't send it again) that notice was buried deep in my spam box. I even tried an internal email search using big hosting company's mail address. No luck because they sent if from a different mail address that did not include their usual identifiers.
So a combination of events caused big hosting company to shut down my server (not just the one offending domain address), taking nearly 35 websites off-line for over 24-hours.
I do feel that the hosting company could have been more helpful, especially since I am also a reseller of their services. They could have sent me another copy of the original email. They could have sent more than the one notice. But the bottom line is that in the strictest sense, they did nothing wrong.
We all can learn much from this incident. I plan on writing an article about this case and sharing some of the details with my readers, many who have their own websites and blogs.
Let's face the fact that the Watchtower has been wounded severely by the Candace Conti case. They did not help their cause one iota by sending out that October 1 BOE letter. In fact, they made their position less excusable. I'm sure that prosecuting attorneys and those representing victims are "thanking Jehovah" for inspiring the Watchtower's (Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses) Legal Department for sending out that letter to all North American congregations. In fact, you might wonder if the actual author of that BOE letter might not be on our side.
Maybe there is a Jehovah and he is blessing OUR efforts.
Enough on this for now. Bottom line is that my server, in spite of everything, was only down a little over 24 hours. Not a single one of my clients complained to me about the problem, but waited patiently for their sites to come back up. I will take aggressive action to make sure that none of the sites hosted on my servers will make the same mistake again.