How to Use A DMCA Takedown Notice to Protect Your Online Brand

Posted on Mar 27, 2013
By Rhonda Hurwitz

Plagiarism is about as welcome as a skunk at a lawn party, but if you are publishing on the Internet, you must learn to deal with it.

Here's how to get those infringing web pages removed quickly!

Remedies for Content Theft

Once you detect pirated blog content, what do you do?

In some cases, you may be able to work out an agreement with the infringing site. For instance, you may simply want them to include attribution and links back to your site. Or, you may want to offer an option to keep your content on their site by licensing an authorized version. For other sites, complete removal may be preferred.

If these initial remedies are unsuccessful, however, you can avail yourself of the remedy provided by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

What is the DMCA?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a U.S. federal act that gives copyright owners a way to get infringing web pages removed.

Its main instrument is the DMCA takedown notice -- a special notification sent to the web hosting service of the infringing website. The DMCA takedown notice requires that the hosting company remove the infringing content swiftly once notified.

When you assert that you are the copyright owner and carefully identify the offending content, the web host in question will require that the site remove all of the offending content.

The DMCA Takedown Notice

To initiate the process, a special letter is sent to the infringer’s ISP (Internet Service Provider). The letter has 6 basic elements:

  • The name and signature of the infringed content owner (or whoever you authorize to act on your behalf)
  • Identification of the copyrighted work
  • Identification of the owner of the infringing site (obtained via the WHOIS domain lookup service), and a link to the allegedly infringing content
  • Your contact information
  • The basis for your complaint, showing your copyrights in the infringed work
  • A statement that you are providing accurate information, to the best of your knowledge.

Your copyright does not have to be registered at the U.S. Copyright Office to avail yourself of this remedy. You simply have to satisfy the 6 elements identified above.

Sample DMCA Takedown Letter

You can find sample DMCA takedown notices online.

Gene Quinn, an intellectual property attorney and founder of IP Watchdog, provides an excellent sample DMCA takedown letter here.

Of course, seek the advice of your own legal counsel to determine the appropriate notice for your site.

The Solution: Vigilant Detection, Swift Removal

While the DMCA provides an excellent mechanism to remove infringing content, many will find the process of executing and tracking a DMCA notice to be confusing and time-consuming.

If you prefer an automated approach to dealing with content pirates, there are plagiarism detection tools that make the entire process quite simple.

Whichever infringement detection and escalation process you use, the key is to use the DMCA takedown notice swiftly and surely, in order to protect your online brand.

Free eBook: Need more content in less time?

Download this ebook to learn whether a content strategy that includes republishing quality content for your readers is right for your site. This Q&A helps you ask the right questions regarding your website or blog.

Content Strategy Q & A: Is Third Party Content Right for Your Website?