DMCA Protection, Takedowns, & Procedures (A How-to Guide) (2022)

DMCA Protection, Takedowns, & Procedures (A How-to Guide) (1)

When it comes to security, it’s not only your website that needs protection – the content on your website is pretty vulnerable, too.

It takes a certain amount of skill, knowledge, and expertise for someone to hack into your website, not so much, though, to steal your content.

Article Quick Links:

  • What is the DMCA?
  • What is fair use and safe harbor?
  • What is a DMCA takedown notice?
  • How to issue a DMCA takedown notice
  • What to do if you get a takedown notice
  • Summary

Protecting the content you publish on your site is incredibly important. But what do you do when you find instances of plagiarism?

How do you handle the unauthorized use of your content?

(Video) How to create professionally managed takedown using DMCA.com

Enter the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – a solution accessible by practically any victim of copyright infringement.

In this post, we will cover what you must do as a content owner if you find that someone’s stolen your content. What obligations publishers have to avoid contravening the DMCA, and what to do if you receive a DMCA notice. But before we begin, let’s go over the basics of the DMCA.

What is the DMCA?

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a law of the United States that came into effect in October 1998. This law penalizes the attempt to infringe on the Digital Rights of copyrighted work and the production and distribution of software designed to do such a task.

The law also provides a safe harbor for certain online service providers (OSPs), including Internet service providers (ISPs), from copyright infringement penalties.

DMCA Protection, Takedowns, & Procedures (A How-to Guide) (2)

For those of you who aren’t familiar with legal jargon, DMCA is a law that helps protect your content from being stolen. If someone steals, plagiarizes, or harvests credit for your content in any way, then DMCA protection can help you take it down.

While it can be very helpful in reclaiming your rightful intellectual property, the DMCA remains, to this day, a controversial law as it can act as a double-edged sword. There have been a few notable cases of DMCA abuse.

For this reason, we’ll also take a look at some easy steps you can follow if you’re wrongfully issued a DMCA takedown notice (but more on that later).

How DMCA Works and Its Limitations

DMCA protection applies to all types of content – text, images, audio, videos – and if you are the creator of the content, it rightfully belongs to you.

Regularly checking the web for unauthorized use of your content and taking necessary steps to get credit for your work or have the material removed entirely is important.

If you find that someone has uploaded your content on a website without your permission, then you can file a DMCA to issue a takedown notice to the Internet service provider that’s hosting the website. DMCA takedown services help you file your notice, and some even take down your stolen content for a fee.

At this point, it’s important to note that there are a handful of artifacts that don’t fall under the DMCA umbrella. For instance, you cannot file DMCA complaints over things like names, ideas, looks, or contesting trademarks.

In addition to this, DMCA is a law of the United States – it doesn’t apply to servers outside the country. However, that is not to say that you won’t find DMCA equivalent laws upheld by other nations.

(Video) How to File a DMCA Takedown Notice to Google, YouTube, Amazon or Any Site | Copyright Infringement

To name a few, Australia, New Zealand, India, and many European countries have their own copyright protection laws for digital content.

While the law itself may be a bit different in each country, there is still a high chance of successfully taking down your stolen content even if the infringing site is hosted on a server outside the United States.

There are also cases in which others can use your content without your permission if it falls under fair use. With this in mind, let’s first round up the cases where DMCA is not applicable.

A Note on Fair Use Policy and the DMCA Safe Harbor

There is a legal mechanism that allows some form of limited use of your content by another entity. It’s known as the fair use policy.

Fair use is a US legal doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. – Wikipedia

In simple English, fair use allows others to take your content without your permission and use it in a limited way. To illustrate with an example, suppose you publish an article stating your opinion on any subject.

Another website takes parts of your article and publishes criticism of your post. Depending on how they used your content, their use of your content may fall under fair use and hence not be subject to DMCA.

There are also certain safe harbors that DMCA provides to certain entities. These entities are usually Internet service providers, file sharing sites, and generally any website that encourages or allows users to publish content.

Though a safe harbor shields these service providers, they are still under obligation to take down any content that is infringing upon receiving a notice.

Why You Should Go for DMCA

A great reason to opt for a DMCA takedown in the case of copyright infringement is its accessibility factor. Anyone can protect their content or data through DMCA’s takedown services.

It is easy to follow and usually yields quick results. The procedure itself is completely free of charge and does not require the content owner to hire an attorney or pay court fees.

One of the best things about it is that even if you don’t have a registered copyright, you can still go for a DMCA takedown notice. DMCA protection covers any type of content that can be infringed online i.e., digital content that does not fall under fair use.

This includes your personal data, content (images, audios, videos, etc.), and software.

(Video) Why use DMCA.com for your takedown services?

To be clear, DMCA is strictly a method of protecting your content after it has been infringed. It provides no preemptive protection. That said, you can always opt for getting a DMCA badge for your website, which serves as a warning that may potentially discourage others from stealing your content.

The badge provides a free professional takedown per year, among other perks – not a bad thing to have when things go south.

What Is a DMCA Takedown Notice?

A DMCA takedown notice is a pretty standard document that you send to a company notifying them of the infringing nature of the content that they are hosting.

The companies in question are usually the Internet service providers that are hosting the site, such as Google, Yahoo, and other online service providers.

The notice contains five key elements:

  1. Name and contact information of the copyright owner.
  2. A signature of the copyright owner – can be either digital or physical.
  3. Proof of copyright ownership.
  4. Notice and identification of the infringing content.
  5. A statement of good faith that they believe the content to be a copyright infringement and that they did not provide permission for the content to be uploaded.

How to Issue a DMCA Takedown Notice

Now that we have a fair grasp of all matters DMCA, let’s take a look at how you can file and issue a DMCA takedown notice. There are effectively two options.

You can either use a service such as DMCA.com or manage it yourself or if you are inclined to DIY, the following process will help…

Step 1: Identify the Service Providers

DMCA Protection, Takedowns, & Procedures (A How-to Guide) (3)

Once you’ve found a site infringing your content, you need to start gathering information about that website. This includes:

  1. The hosting provider.
  2. Domain registrar.
  3. Internet service provider.
  4. Owner of the website.
  5. Any other relevant information or parties that may be involved in hosting that content.

Online tools like WHOis and DomainTools give you all the information you need. Though it isn’t necessary, taking screenshots of the infringing content is a good idea.

Step 2: Draft the DMCA Notice

Now that you’ve identified the service providers of the website, draft the DMCA takedown notice making sure that you mention the five key components mentioned earlier. There are several free templates available online for this purpose.

If you’d rather write one yourself, then you’ll want to make sure that your notice contains all the elements of a properly formatted DMCA takedown notice. Here’s a list of the seven basic parts of the DMCA takedown notice:

  1. The subject of your notice.
  2. Your introduction.
  3. Explanation of why you’re sending the takedown notice.
  4. Provide proof of the copyright.
  5. The good faith statement.
  6. The perjury statement.
  7. Your signature and personal information.

DMCA.com has a comprehensive guide to help you draft a DMCA takedown notice by yourself.

(Video) DMCA Takedown: How To Protect Your Copyright (A case Study)

Step 3: Notify the Service Providers

Send the DMCA protection notice to the Internet service provider that is hosting the site infringing your content.

If they fail to remove the content within a reasonable amount of time, you can send the notice to the offending site’s domain registrar. You can also notify the search engine providers – Google, Microsoft, etc. – in order to stop the stream of visitors to the infringed content.

DMCA Protection, Takedowns, & Procedures (A How-to Guide) (4)

If all else fails, or if you don’t have the time or inclination to work through this process yourself, there are services that help take your content down for a fee.

How to Avoid Getting a DMCA Notice

Due to the flexibility of the law, you could be at the receiving end of a DMCA notice. This is not a pleasant proposition and can be avoided by following a few simple steps.

Apart from the obvious (don’t steal other people’s content!), if you have to use part of the content created by another person, make sure to do so within fair use. It is also a good idea to ask for permission from the content owner before using it.

Fair use policies differ for each platform and type of content, and there are other factors that come into play that are exclusive to their scenarios. It’s a good idea to do some research about the subject you suspect your content might infringe on before using it.

What to Do if You Get a DMCA Notice

If you receive a DMCA notice and feel that your content does not infringe on copyrights, there are a couple of things that you can do.

First and foremost, it is highly recommended that you consult legal advice in order to better assess the situation. Doing so will also help evaluate your chances of successfully revoking the DMCA.

Once the notice is served to your Internet service provider there is nothing to be done till your content is taken down. When that happens, you will need to draft a DMCA counter-notice. This should contain four key elements:

  1. Your name and contact information.
  2. Your signature – either physical or digital.
  3. Identification of alleged infringing content before its takedown.
  4. A statement that you believe that the content was wrongfully or mistakenly accused of infringement.


You can write one up yourself or use a template for filing a valid counter-notice. After filing a counter-notice, if the accusing party does not take legal action within 10 business days the Internet service provider is bound to restore your content.

Wrapping It Up

There’s only so much you can do to prevent your content from being stolen, and even less to take preemptive measures against it.

DMCA makes it easy for content owners to handle unauthorized usage of their content by allowing them to file a DMCA takedown notice with the infringing party’s Internet service provider.

(Video) DMCA Takedown And Protection For Webcam Models And Content Creators (Timestamps In The Description)

In this post, we’ve offered some insight into DMCA’s protection and procedure and outlined what you need to do to issue a takedown notice. Let’s quickly recap the main points:

  1. The first thing you need to do is identify the service provider of the site that’s infringing your content and gather information about it using tools like WHOis.
  2. Once you’ve identified the service provider, start drafting the DMCA notice. You can write one yourself or use a service to handle the entire process.
  3. Finally, notify the Internet service provider of the site that has infringed your content by sending them the DMCA takedown notice. Alternatively, the notice can be sent to the domain registrar and major search engines if the ISP fails to take it down.

Do you have any questions about DMCA protection, procedures, and takedowns? We’d love to hear from you so let us know by commenting below!

FAQs

How do you do a DMCA takedown? ›

How to file a DMCA takedown
  1. Reach out to the author to try and get the content taken down.
  2. Reach out to the web host/site owner to get the content taken down.
  3. File a DMCA takedown notice with the web host/service provider.
  4. Request the takedown with an ISP.

What is DMCA and how it works? ›

The DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA grants online service providers (such as Facebook, Twitch and Youtube) certain “safe harbor” protections from copyright infringement liability as long as they meet certain requirements.

How do you use DMCA protection? ›

To quickly add a DMCA Protection Badge to all your website pages simply:
  1. register for a free account, here - www.dmca.com/badges/signup.
  2. log into the DMCA ProtectionPortal.
  3. Once logged in, you can navigate to "My Protected Pages" and.
  4. click "Add New Page(s) to My Protection Plan"
  5. Pick a Badge you like,
Jan 5, 2019

What means DMCA takedown? ›

The DMCA notice and takedown process is a tool for copyright holders to get user-uploaded material that infringes their copyrights taken down off of websites.

What is required in a DMCA notice? ›

Identification of the: (i) copyrighted work(s) infringed; (ii) the infringing activity; and (iii) the location of the infringing activity (typically by providing the URL).

Is DMCA a crime? ›

The creation and sharing of technology or software that is designed to defeat copyright protections is also criminalized. There are both civil and criminal penalties for violations of the DMCA. Intentional violations of the DMCA can result in monetary damages as well as imprisonment.

What happens after DMCA takedown? ›

Upon receiving a counter notification, the service provider notifies the party that sent the takedown notification and, if they still believe you've infringed on their copyright, they have 14 days to file a lawsuit against you.

How long is DMCA takedown? ›

How Long Does a DMCA Notice Take? Generally, a DMCA takedown notice will take around 72 hours. However, we've seen them go really quick (within 24 hours) and also drag on for 6+ months.

Who does DMCA apply to? ›

No, the DMCA is part of the United States copyright law, therefore is applicable only to the websites hosted in the US. All sites hosted in the US are bound to obey the law. Therefore even if the copyright owner is outside of the US, they can still issue DMCA notice if the hosting website is located in the US.

How do you respond to a DMCA notice? ›

Your first response should be to verify that you are not actually infringing on someone else's copyright. Examine any information you have related to the DMCA takedown notice, including any information regarding the underlying copyright registration that led to the notice.

What are the two punishments you can receive under the DMCA? ›

If you violate the DMCA, for a first offense, you could face imprisonment up to five years in jail and/or additional fines up to $500,000. Repeat offenders could face up to ten years in prison and fines up to $1 million.

How can DMCA violations be avoided? ›

If you want to avoid DMCA claims, the best strategy is to never play or use any material that isn't owned or licensed by you. If you're making a video with music in the background, you should license that music. If you're using stock footage, you should buy it or use something that's explicitly marked for reuse.

How much is a DMCA fine? ›

Legal Repercussions for DMCA Violation

The minimum fine is $750 per downloaded file. Criminal penalties, even for first-time offenders, can be stiff: up to $250,000 in fines and five years in prison.

How much is a DMCA claim? ›

The current fee is $6 per designation, amendment, or resubmission. There is no separate fee to renew per se because each time you amend or resubmit, and pay the $6 fee to do so, you are fulfilling the renewal requirement.

How do you DMCA someone? ›

How To Send a DMCA Takedown Notice
  1. include your signature or the signature of a person authorized to act on your behalf (your “agent”) (the signature can be either physical or electronic);
  2. identify the copyrighted work that is being infringed;

How long does a DMCA takedown take? ›

How Long Does a DMCA Notice Take? Generally, a DMCA takedown notice will take around 72 hours. However, we've seen them go really quick (within 24 hours) and also drag on for 6+ months.

How much does DMCA cost? ›

The current fee is $6 per designation, amendment, or resubmission. There is no separate fee to renew per se because each time you amend or resubmit, and pay the $6 fee to do so, you are fulfilling the renewal requirement.

Who can file a DMCA notice? ›

The DMCA notice and takedown process must only be used to remove copyright infringements. In order to send a DMCA takedown notice, you must either be the copyright owner or a person authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.

What are the two punishments you can receive under the DMCA? ›

If you violate the DMCA, for a first offense, you could face imprisonment up to five years in jail and/or additional fines up to $500,000. Repeat offenders could face up to ten years in prison and fines up to $1 million.

What happens after DMCA takedown? ›

Upon receiving a counter notification, the service provider notifies the party that sent the takedown notification and, if they still believe you've infringed on their copyright, they have 14 days to file a lawsuit against you.

How do I check my DMCA? ›

Conclusion
  1. Know if the music is before or after 1923. If it is earlier, it is public domain music and is not copyrighted. ...
  2. Know if it is under the public domain. To do this you should go to the PDinfo portal and check it. ...
  3. Search on YouTube. Use the platform's search engine to search for your song and check the comments.
Jul 12, 2022

Who runs DMCA? ›

the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

Do I need a DMCA notice on my website? ›

Absolutely. If the website doesn't have a DMCA agent, and someone claims infringement of their copyright based on something that was posted on that website – regardless of whether the site posted it or a third-party user posted it – the site does NOT get to employ the safe harbors of the DMCA.

Is filing a DMCA free? ›

Yes. The DMCA.com Protection Pro service is completely free. Sign up here for FREE Website Protection There are no signup costs or monthly fees to have a Protection Badge on your website.

Videos

1. How To Stop People From Stealing Your S*%t: A guide to the DMCA Takedown Procedures
(Christopher Matthew)
2. DMCA Notice And Takedown Process | Copyright Infringement ALIEXPRESS
(Lex DMCA)
3. ⚠️DMCA⚠️ | Adult Entertainer's Guide to Success
(Mila Rose)
4. Understanding the DMCA: Filing a Takedown Notice
(CopyrightAlliance)
5. Understanding the DMCA: Sending a Takedown Notice
(CopyrightAlliance)
6. Understanding the DMCA: Takedown Notice Guidelines
(CopyrightAlliance)

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