SEO Security: Filing a DMCA Takedown Notice

Protect your online Intellectual Property (“IP”) by filing a DMCA Takedown Notice to take down content.

An Overview of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, was signed in 1998 combining United States Copyright law, and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The DMCA:

  • Criminalises production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services to circumvent measures that control access to copyright works.
  • Criminalises the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself.
  • Heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet.

The DMCA, up until 2000 was only actionable within the United States. However it was quickly adopted by the European Union, and soon after the Electronic Commerce Directive.

The DMCA Takedown Notice has seen much abuse, with 37% of claims being reported to Google: “were not valid copyright claims.” Therefore, the approach you take with pleaing a case will have a direct impact on the success of the takedown. We will discuss this further down the page.

Here are some famous DMCA Takedown cases which have kicked off internet Intellectual Property security:

What qualifies as copied material?

Action can only be enforced in countries that have agreed to DMCA provisions.

Currently these countries include:

  • United States of America
  • European Union
  • United Kingdom
  • New Zealand

If the country in which your website is hosted does not belong to a nation in the above list, you will not be capable of enforcing a DMCA Takedown Notice. However, sending one is still a great idea to instil fear, and hopefully have the content taken down.

Ok so what actually qualifies you to take down content on someone else’s page?

1. Exact copy of content from your page, without reference.

This is the most common case of a DMCA Takedown Notice. Where a random website has duplicated your content, or website entirely, and not given respect to the original information.

An example of this is a CBD Article that SEOSPIDRE wrote for a popular News site called Bitneni.

This was our original publishing

This was their copied article. It was word for word a CTRL + C and CTRL + V.

The page had copied the information exactly from our domain, and hadn’t referred to the original article. We reported it to the hosting provider (at the time it was Namecheap) and the content was removed soon after.

2. Exact copy of content from your page, with reference.

This is where things start to become more difficult, as, in theory, referring to the original location of the information should exempt someone from copyright infringement? Right?

Wrong.

You might have fallen victim to this, where someone copies an entire page, like the images above, and reposts it onto their site with a link at the bottom saying something like “Information taken from: website xyz.” This practice developed while DMCA was still in its infancy trying to get a grip on the internet and the changing tactics to circumvent copyright.

However, DMCA has, under one of the provisions, a clause that criminalises this act.

The second portion of “DMCA Title 1: WIPO Copyright and Performance and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act” (17 U.S.C 1201) is commonly referred to as the “Anti-circumvention” provisions”.

The section contains a number of specific limitations and exemptions, for such things as government research and reverse engineering in specified situations. Although, section 1201(c) of the title stated that the section does not change the underlying substantive copyright infringement rights, remedies, or defenses, it did not make those defenses available in circumvention actions. The section does not include a fair use exemption from criminality nor a scienter requirement, so criminal liability could attach to even unintended circumvention for legitimate purposes.

Jonathan Band and Masanobu Katoh | Interfaces on Trial 2.0

So if the copying domain has simply thrown a link down at the bottom of the page, despite the evident copyright of the material, you can still very easily file a DMCA Takedown Notice which must be respected under Act 17 U.S.C 1201(c).

3. Exact copy of music, beats, or lyrics.

Musicians account for 57% of the Copyright claims reported to Google; an enormous number indeed. What allows musicians to so frequently create these claims is the fact that they have the strictest “copyright” laws which protects their Intellectual Property the best.

If you are a musician who believes that another artist has stolen any of your musical elements, you will most likely be able to plea a case, if not win it. This is because Google, and particularly YouTube, enforce your material the best.

However:

While YouTube confirms that 83% of musicians that claim copyright on their platform are granted, you have to be able to prove your ownership.

This is much harder to do for music, than for other online properties such as articles, research, or content curation. The reason for this is the abstractness of the music industry.

Proving your ownership can be done through notes, sound tracks with timestamps, publication on YouTube before your competitor, or any other method you can think of, to prove your publication before your competitor. It’s not good enough to simply state that “you thought of it before he did,” it will have to be factually correct.

4. Duplication and reuse of images, without reference.

Images on platforms such as Pinterest, are also enforced. This has become super important for photographers, image-based blogs, or travel connoisseurs.

Images on the internet must be used with reference, or if the image is already water-marked, doesn’t need to be used with reference. Keep this in mind in the event you see your hard-worked images on someone else’s site without due credit.

Content that is enforceable cannot be open-source. If the defendant can prove that your image was published on open source platforms like Pexels then they have the right to use it. Keep tight control over your images by implementing a small watermark.

Do I need to be a lawyer?

No.

You do not need to be a lawyer, barrister, or have legal representation to CREATE a legal plea under the DMCA.

However, should there be follow up questions or counter DMCA claims, you best be prepared with some legal expertise!

Creating the claim and providing legal documentation doesn’t require representation because it’s your content. However, if the defendant tries to open litigation against you and claim that you stole it from him, it’s best to get someone with legal experience.

We handle SEO Security including DMCA Takedown Notices and legal representation at SEOSPIDRE. 
Contact us if you need help with this.

How do I write the takedown notice?

There are multiple ways, but you can find plenty of templates online that you can just fill in and send.

Here is the template that we use at SEOSPIDRE for most of our clients.

To Whom It May Concern,

The following information serves to assert my rights and request removal of allegedly infringing web content under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The following is a report, in good faith, of alleged copyright infringement. I am contacting you as the designated agent for the site upon which the infringing work currently appears. This letter is a Notice of Infringement as authorized in §512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law.

I am the copyright owner of the works and the following is true and accurate.

1. The original work, for which I claim copyright, appears, with my permission, at the following locations online:
– input the original publication location

2. Available copies of the original copyrighted work are available at the above HTML links to assist you in your evaluation and determination. You will also find the following to be of assistance in your decision:
– input any supporting documentation

3. The allegedly infringing work appears at the following location(s) online:
– input the infringing material HTML location / screenshots

4. My contact information, as copyright holder, is as follows:
– Full name
– Address
– Postal Code
– Contact Number
– Email
– Website (if applicable)

5. The information of the alleged copyright infringer is:
– Go to Whois and do a lookup on the hosting of the infringing domain. Copy and paste as much relevant information as possible, and as neatly sorted as possible.

6. I have good faith the use of the above reference copyrighted work(s) that appears on the website for which you are the designated DMCA agent is not authorised by the copyright owner, its agent, or by law.

I declare, under penalty of perjury, this notice is true and correct and that I am the copyright owner entitled to exclusive rights which I allege are being infringed.

Signed this ________ day of ___________, 2019 in ______________________

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Where do I send the notice to?

Some websites will have a DMCA contact in the footer, or a copyright contact email. If that’s available, send it there, AND to the hosting company. Don’t send it just to the website’s legal contact because the likelihood of a takedown happening is rare.

Most often the links in the footer that you will be looking out for include:

  • “Report Abuse”
  • “DMCA Notice”
  • “Copyright”
  • “Legal Contact”

During your whois lookup you will discover who the hosting platform is. Often this will be Namecheap, WordPress, BlueHost, or Siteground. There are plenty others though, so don’t be surprised if this is privately hosted on a self-owned server.

Once you know who the hosting platform is, ensure that their operations occur in one of the DMCA obliging nations. If they are, then you can continue to put forth a Takedown Notice by sending it to their email.

Navigate over to their website and find a relevant DMCA contact somewhere in the footer, or through a quick Google Search.

Through a quick Google Search I came across Namecheap’s contact information regarding DMCA notices and all other forms of harassment or spam.

All hosting platforms are required to have contact information such as this, so if you haven’t found it, don’t give up!

Now that you’ve located the relevant email, for example dmca@namecheap.com, you can send through your previously prepared email with all the supporting documentation.

Once sent to their email, sit back and relax and wait for a response from their legal and online enforcement committee! The takedown, if given the proper documentation, should happen in a simple motion after that.

If complications arise during a Takedown, don't hesitate to contact us at SEOSPIDRE

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