If you’ve ever had someone steal a blog post, picture or even the entire design of your blog and post it elsewhere online, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has your back. Usually, folks will publish your work on their own website or blog because they find it to be informative, in the case of a blog post, or aesthetically pleasing, in the case of a photograph or design. Admittedly, this can be flattering on some levels, but also very annoying. However, a client recently approached me to say that another party had set up a site that closely mirrored his blog, down to the content (which was entirely information about our client’s business and nothing to do with the infringer’s) and contact information — a very odd situation indeed. (This example serves as yet another reason to have Google Alerts set up for your name and your blog’s name: detecting fraud — this client found out about the infringer through a Google Alert.) In this instance, the best approach is to send the offender a letter — a DMCA takedown notice. Here’s how to send one:
Determine who controls the offenders’ domain
If no contact information is stated on the website, you can use a WhoIs service like Networked Solutions’ WhoIs, WhoIs.net or DomainTools to determine or confirm the identity of the offending site. NetworkedSolutions’ offering is very thorough. Here’s an example of the WhoIs information from one of our blogs:
However, you may not be able to determine the exact identity of the person stealing your content with any WhoIs service. You could get a result as vague as this one:
If this is the case, you can at least find out which company was used to register the domain (GoDaddy, Network Solutions, etc). This third party can determine whether or not the content stays up or if it goes down, but can’t be held accountable for the content unless they knew about the infringement or don’t do anything to respond to a legitimate takedown notice.
Send your takedown notice to the registrant first. If you do not hear from them or there is no registrant listed, send it to the site linked to the web hosting company or domain registrar. The hosting company’s website will have directions for how to contact them, generally found in a “legal” section in their footer.
Send a DMCA takedown notice
Your DMCA takedown notice should be in the form of a letter that includes, according to 17 USC 512(c)(3)(A) of the U.S. Copyright law:
i) A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed. (ii) Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site. (iii) Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material. (iv) Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted. (v) A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. (vi) A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
Carolyn Wright and Gene Quinn of IP Watchdog have samples of what this sort of letter might look like. Hopefully you will never need to ask someone to stop stealing what is yours, but there are options if it does come down to it.