At the Copyright Alliance, we regularly hear from artists and creators that find their work being used without their permission on various websites, but are unsure of how to deal with it and/or may not have access to legal counsel. To that end, we have created two resources designed to educate and assist creators to navigate the DMCA process: a “quick guide” to DMCA Takedown Notices that outlines “in plain English” the requirements for claiming infringement – in other words, what the creator or copyright holder must be prepared to supply in order to request a DMCA takedown notice – as well as a template letter for an ISP takedown notice. The letter, provided by Copyright Alliance Legal Advisory Board member, Nancy Wolff, of Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard, can be found here. Copyright Alliance Quick Guide to DMCA Requirements: The following requirements must be met to claim infringement per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Note: Although the DMCA specifies that notifications must be written communication, many service providers offer easy-to-use online tools to submit claims directly to the company’s designated agent through an online copyright claim form. Below are the elements of a proper DMCA notice, seeking removal of infringing content, explained In Plain English:
1. A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
“In Plain English”: You must be the copyright owner (or the authorized representative of the owner), to report a suspected infringement. You should identify yourself that way, and you must sign the letter.
2. 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.
“In Plain English”: You must identify your copyrighted work. This can be done by identifying the work by title, or if it is more practical, you may consider providing a link to your website or other location where the work is being displayed lawfully. Some people also attach a copy of the copyright protected work to aid in the takedown. This is particularly helpful when dealing with photographs or other images. Your attached image can serve as direct identification to the matter at issue for the copyright agent when reviewing the claim.
3. 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.
“In Plain English”: You should include sufficient information to allow the copyright agent to identify where the infringing content is being made available without your permission. Typically people provide the web address indicating where the infringing material is displayed, or a separate report can be attached to the letter that lists the details of the infringement. A copy of the infringing material can also be attached to assist in the removal.
4. 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.
“In Plain English”: The letter must include your contact information. An email address is sufficient.
5. 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.
“In Plain English”: A statement must be included in the letter that confirms you have good faith belief that use of the material in the manner described in the letter is not authorized by the copyright owner, or its licensing representatives.
6. 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.
“In Plain English”: Providing false information and making a false claim is punishable under federal law, and those making false notices can be sued and held civilly liable.
Note: For those service providers who do not offer online tools to submit claims directly to the company’s designated agent, information about such agent can generally be found on the service provider’s web page. Additionally, the Copyright Office has created a directory of designated agents from the designations filed with the Office for those service providers seeking the limitations on liability provided by law, and you can access this directory here. Next Steps: To submit an accurate DMCA takedown notice to an ISP, you must confirm which ISP is hosting the website that is infringing your content. Locating the website host can be determined by completing an internet search of the Registrar the domain name is registered through. The Registrars can be found with a “Who Is” domain register search, http://www.register.com/whois, and then scrolling down through the search results and locating the “Sponsoring Registrar” information listed. Once the correct ISP has been identified, this template letter can be used to aid in drafting a DMCA takedown notice to an internet service provider, simply fill in the blanks.
Please note that this information should be used for educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.