We’ve talked about how to perform a reverse image search for an image you want to use on your blog. But what happens when you do this search for one of your own images and find a result you are not happy with? What if this use hurts your business? Help is just around the corner, thanks to the DMCA Takedown Notice.
DMCA Takedown Notice
Only four simple steps are required to send a takedown notice.
Step 1: Take screenshots of the infringing site
Once you send the DMCA takedown notice, the web host will remove the infringing material. As such, your first step should be to obtain electronic (and print) copies of the infringing material.
Step 2: Locate the website’s host
The DMCA is a kind of legal loophole, that prevents website hosts from being sued for copyright infringement if:
- the infringement is posted by one of their users
- if they follow a specific procedure to remove the material after getting notice of the infringement
This means that you must send your DMCA takedown notice to the website host. So how do you find the website host? A free way to search for a website’s host is Domain Sigma or Who Is Hosting This. To find the host, enter the domain name, scroll down to “Server Properties” and the web host is listed.
Note: If the web host is not based in the United States, then they do not have to comply with the DMCA. However, some countries have similar procedures to take down infringing content (e.g. the European Union and Australia).
Step 3: Determine the Copyright Agent
Now that you have your web site’s host, you need to determine the exact person to send your notice to. Legally this person is called the Copyright Agent. Often the best way to determine this is to Google the web host. Once on the web host’s site, the Copyright Agent can be found by:
- Selecting something like: “Copyright”, “Notice for Claims of Copyright Violations”, or “Agent for Notice”
If this doesn’t pan out, you can search the U.S. Copyright Office Directory of Copyright Agents.
Step 4: Draft your takedown notice
If you are lucky, the website’s host will have a form letter that you can send (Facebook, Google, WordPress, and Pinterest all have forms). If the website’s host doesn’t have a form, you will have to draft the letter yourself to the person and address you found in Step 3.
The letter you send to the website host to remove the images is called a “DMCA Takedown Notice.” The law requires that this letter contain very specific items.
By law, the DMCA takedown notice must contain the following items:
- A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright or intellectual property right that has been allegedly infringed upon;
- Identification in sufficient detail of the material being infringed upon;
- Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing upon the intellectual property. Include information regarding the location of the infringing material with sufficient detail so that the web host is capable of finding and verifying its existence;
- Contact information about the notifier including the name of the intellectual property owner, the name and title of the person contacting the web host on the owner’s behalf, the address, telephone number and, if available, e-mail address;
- A statement that the notifier has a good faith belief that the material is not authorized by the intellectual property or copyright owner, its agent, or the law; and
- A statement made under penalty of perjury that the information provided is accurate and the notifying party is authorized to make the complaint on behalf of the intellectual property or copyright owner.
If your notice contains all of the above items, the web host should remove the images within a reasonable time (although the alleged infringer can still send a counter notice). As a final note, before you send the letter you should make sure that the other parties’ use doesn’t qualify as fair use.
Of course, a DMCA takedown notice may not be your only option. Depending on the circumstances, you might also:
- Request the website owner add a credit to the image.
- Send a cease and desist letter with a demand for payment yourself.
- Hire an attorney to send a cease and desist letter on your behalf with a demand for payment.
- Hire an attorney to file a copyright infringement suit.
DMCA takedown notices aren’t perfect but this tool should be in every content creators toolbox to remove content detrimental to their brand.
Have you ever sent a takedown notice? What was the outcome?
Hi! I’m Kiff! I believe that you can have ease in the legalese of running your creative business.
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