The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protects search and internet service providers (ISP’s) from lawsuits concerning copyright infringement by third parties. However it also obliges them to investigate and respond to complaints by authors about alleged copyright infringements under the threat of the loss of their own protection.
I wrote this page in order to explain exactly how others may may do what I have done; remove your hard work from websites that have stolen it and presented it as their own!
First and foremost; DO NOT FILE A DMCA COMPLAINT UNLESS YOU ARE SURE THAT YOU ACTUALLY OWN THE MATERIAL YOU ALLEDGE TO BE COPYRIGHTED!! The filing of a DMCA complaint involves a sworn statement that you are the legal author of the work, and if it can be proven that you are not, then you can be sued for substantial money by the very people you have filed the claim against. Any lie you place in a sworn affidavit may be used against YOU in a court of law!
Second, it is not absolutely necessary, but it helps a lot if you actually hold a copyright certificate to the material you claim. Holding a legal copyright makes it possible to sue for monetary damages for the misuse of your material and puts teeth into your DMCA calin! You can file for a copyright with the US copyright office yourself. It is inexpensive, but I found it difficult since the language must be exactly right or they keep sending back your requests with new demands. I finally hired a copyright lawyer, and it turned out to be pleasantly inexpensive and easy. I now send my lawyer copies of my website (on CD ROM) about every two years so they can update my copyright. There are lots of online lawyers, but I use the following office. It’s a small office and local in New England, but they treated me well.
Saunders & Silverstein LLP
14 Cedar Street, Suite 224
Amesbury, MA 01913
Step 1; Identify the websites that have infringed your work
The easiest way to identify all the websites that have stolen your work is to use the following service:
Copyscape offers a premium batch search. For pennies per page, Copyscape will scrape your site, listing all your pages and then find every instance of plagiarism on the net. Copyscape then links every one of them. They supply you with a report listing each of your pages followed by both the URL of the offending page, and a link to the same page with your text highlighted.
Step 2; Decide who to send DMCA notices to
The last report I got from Copyscape contained 17 very long pages, each one listing several hundred infringers. I had virtually thousands of entries to sift through. In order to search their results, I copied all 17 pages and pasted them into a single Microsoft Word file from which I could use the Microsoft Word search function to search for all instances of specific violators. A majority of my own “violators” were innocent bloggers using small segments of text for personal reasons, or persons who’s use of my material was within my own fair use guidelines. I ignored these as well as other inconsequential uses of my material and filed DMCA complaints only against flagrant abusers.
There are three entities who can act on your request to remove offending material from the web:
1. You may contact the owner of the website:
Sometimes it is best to look directly at the website to see if they have a contact person who you can send your complaint to. This is always worth a try. Large numbers of my violators were unaware that their web developers had illegally copied other websites and were quite willing to remove the offending pages. Unfortunately, this does not always work. Sometimes the violators will just ignore your request to remove the offending material, and at other times there is no contact information on the website at all.
You can generally find out who owns a website by doing a whois search on Google, Bing or any other search provider. Just type the following line into a web search box inserting the offending website’s name after the word “whois”:
This will return a list of websites that will give you all the “whois” information you need to contact the website owner, (unless the owner has opted to hide this information from public view).
2. You may contact the ISP that hosts the offending website:
I find this option to be the easiest and the most effective. Hosting companies can get in a heap of trouble if they knowingly collude in publishing plagiarized work. Infringing web pages will be removed from the web very quickly if your claim is honest and properly submitted.
Unfortunately, sometimes, it can be difficult to find the hosting company. Even if you track the hosting company down, it can be difficult to discover the e-mail address at the hosting company to send your DMCA complaint to. I have found that the easiest way to discover the hosting company and the “abuse@” e-mail address is to do the following:
Go to the website below:
Type the name of the offending website (omit the http://) into the empty box and then click on the “Look it Up” button. This returns a box with information that looks like this:
DNS server handling your query: localhost DNS server's address: 127.0.0.1#53 Non-authoritative answer: Name: doctorspiller.com Address: 126.96.36.199
Then go the website below:Copy the number at the bottom (highlighted in yellow in the example above)
In the upper right corner of the page, you will find a search box labeled “Search Whois”. Paste the number you got from Kloth.net into that box and click on the search button.
This will return all the host information. More importantly, however, further down the page, you will find a box labeled “point of contact”. By clicking on the underlined link to the right of the “abuse” function (labeled something like ABUSE51-ARIN) you will discover the e-mail of the hosting site’s office that handles DMCA complaint forms.
Once you have located the e-mail address of the hosting company’s abuse division, you can submit a formal DMCA complaint (See the form below). This has failed only in the case of a few overseas hosting companies which seem to have a formal contempt for copyright laws in general.
3. You may ask the search engines to delist the offending web pages:
This option requires a bit more footwork because it involves notifying each major search engine of the infringing web pages along with the page on your site which was copied, but it always seems to work when all else fails. It is especially effective when a hosting company is located overseas and refuses to honor your country’s copyright laws. Each search company has its own procedure for DMCA complaints. For instance, Google offers a form at the link below:
BING has a page explaining its procedure here:
The following form has worked well for me. You can copy directly from this page and paste it into your email customizing it for your own website. The finished form can be e-mailed to the website owner, host or even some of the search engines. You can also print a hard copy and send or fax it to the appropriate offices at the hosting or search facilities. I have also found that it works quite well if mailed or e-mailed directly to the offending website owner.
Attn: Copyright Agent
This is a notification of copyright infringement. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) obliges search and internet providers to investigate and respond to complaints by authors about alleged copyright viloations.
Copyright owner: Your Name
Pursuant to 17 USC 512(c)(3)(A), this communication serves as a statement that:
I am the exclusive rights holder for The Website; http://YourSite.com. Yoursite.com is hosted by YourISP.com
Yoursite.com is registered with the US copyright office: Certificate of Registration: TX0000000000. (This line is optional. Your work does not need to have a copyright certificate in order to file a DMCA complaint. DO NOT USE THIS LINE UNLESS YOUR WORK REALLY IS REGISTERED WITH THE US COPYRIGHT OFFICE!)
These exclusive rights are being violated by material available upon your site at the at the URL(s) printed below. I have a good faith belief that the use of this material in such a fashion is not authorized by the copyright holder, the copyright holder’s agent, or the law;
Under penalty of perjury in a United States court of law, I state that the information contained in this notification is accurate, and that I am authorized to act on the behalf of the exclusive rights holder for the material in question;
I may be contacted by the following methods:
Your Town (Your Zip)
I hereby request that you remove or disable access to this material as it appears on your service in as expedient a fashion as possible. Thank you.
John Q. Public
The above text is the boilerplate form. What follows is an example of how you should present the infringing material alongside your own.
The infringing web pages below are hosted by InfringerISP.com. Each is followed by the page(s) on yoursite.com that have been infringed: