I figure if I put some 'friendly' ads on it the thing should pay for itself and that's good enough for me.
The kind of corporate superstructure that Y! puts on top of its products is what makes it inviable, not the concept of free hosting by itself.
If you figure that bandwidth in bulk costs around $3 / Mbit / month then you can serve an awful lot of pages to make back that 3 dollars.
Geocities pages weigh in at about 25K a piece from my meagre sample, so based on that cost / Mbit that's 13 million pageviews + a bit thrown in for server depreciation.
I'm not too scared about doing that.
If the need arises I can put the whole thing in a foundation to keep it alive forever.
Bandwidth costs $, I'll take the risk as long as it is managable, if it goes over that then it will have to make some money. Not much but enough to keep going.
The copyright of the materials is totally clear, it lies with the original authors, not with me.
But since they were being 'hosted' before in an environment that made their sites disappear on an hourly basis before and that will no longer happen they might even see it as an improvement, hard to tell at this point in time.
If someone owns a piece of it and doesn't want it on there I'm sure they'll tell me, it's not as if I'm hiding.
To me it's on the order of the preservation of the 'stone age' of the internet, if I can only preserve it 'offline' for my own gratification that would be a useless thing, it has to live on. If you're willing to sponsor the bandwidth then we can look at that, that would be an easy way to keep it completely advertising free. Personally I would prefer that but if it is to be done out of pocket then that will only go so far. If I have to drop a grand on it per month to keep it ad free then I'll do that. If it is more then that then there will have to be some other way to make it pay for itself. Maybe a donation button (though I don't think those work very well, I'm one of the few people I know that actually does donate to projects that I use), or some other mechanism.
Time will tell. But without the data it all stops, so that had to come first.
That's not how copyright works - "Well Your Honour I was selling those DVDs in public if the film distributors didn't want me to they can just ask, so no fine for me??"
Plus if you're putting ads with this you can't exactly say you're not making a commercial enterprise out of it. I'd leave it to someone with lots of lawyers.