If you are here, I’m guessing that you think someone is using your digital content without your permission. This article will discuss the DMCA takedown notice requirements as well as other steps you can take to get your content taken off another site. It’s very frustrating to find out that someone has used YOUR content. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart because it happened to me–twice. Please note: I am not an attorney and cannot offer you any legal advice. This article is meant as a guide.
*Before we get started, you should know that not all attempts to have content removed are successful. The decision is yours whether this is worth pursuing or not.
What is DMCA Act?
DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act and became law in October 1998 in the United States. This law works in unison with the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) Copyright Treaty. This law made it illegal for anyone to copy digital material and distribute it as their own on their website or in any publication.
What is Copyright Infringement?
You should first understand what is considered copyright infringement and what material is actually covered under the DMCA Act. Basically, you cannot use any content, images, videos, or music without the owner’s permission whether you obtained this material through print or the Internet. Without the owner’s permission, if you use any of this material as your own through publication on your website, Youtube channel, etc., you are committing copyright infringement. This does not apply to certain materials used for personal use. If you have obtained the owner’s permission, you then have the right to use the material in accordance with the owner’s restrictions on its use.
What Is and Isn’t Protected
For instance, when researching articles, I read a lot of information before I start creating content. But I cannot copy anything word for word. I digest the information and write my articles using my own words.
Images are a great example of copyright infringement. With the billions of images out on the Internet, chances are that many of us have downloaded copies here and there. Used for personal use that usually doesn’t present a problem but if you upload that to your website or other public place, it could place you in a copyright infringement position. Owners of digital property are the only ones who can grant you permission to use their images, etc.
How do I Find Out if Someone Copied My Content?
To find out if someone has stolen your content, enter the URL of the content into a site like Copyscape. If you see a entry or list of duplicate pages, check each one out. Make a decision on whether this is indeed your content. If so, you can take the necessary steps to try and get it taken down.
First Steps in Solving the Problem
Keep in mind that you can’t call Google or Bing and ask them to remove the content. And the DMCA Act protects them from being sued. But there are still steps you can take to getting your stolen content taken down.
- Contact the Webmaster/owner of the site. Go to the website in question and find their contact page. There should be a contact email address. Make a note of it and send them an email. Be very specific citing the actual page URL and what was stolen. This may take a few emails and may not work. But you should send three emails about a week apart if you don’t get a response from the first one.
- Contact the hosting company. First, you will need to find out where the site is hosted. To find out, go to https://whois.icann.org. Type the website URL in the box. Click Lookup. Enter the Captcha text. Hit return.
You will see contact information. You want to look for an email address and/or phone number similar to the image below.
Make a note of the email address and send them an email with the name of the site, the URL of the content stolen and ask for it to be taken down. This can take anywhere from 10-30 days while the hosting company looks into the matter. Again, you may or may not be successful.
You can also pay a company to process the DMCA Takedown Notice for you. Contact the DMCA organization for more information.
DMCA Takedown Notice Form
If you haven’t been able to get your content removed by using the above steps, you can contact Google. Fill out the information and they will investigate for you.
DMCA Notice Requirements
- An explanation of why you are filing a notice
- A link to your original content and date the content was published (also applies to images, etc.)
- A link to the site and page where you found the duplicate content
- List of steps you have already taken to try and get the content taken down (contacting site owner, etc.)
- Your contact information
What If You Live Outside The United States?
You can still go through the process of getting your content removed using the steps outlined above. I live in Ireland and went through those very steps. Eventually, I sent a request through Google.
How to Protect Your Content Online
- Put “Protected by Copyscape” in the footer of your website
- Make sure your site has the copyright symbol in the footer also
- Add your site name to all of your images on your website
- Install the WP-Protect Content. This plugin doesn’t allow anyone to right-click or select chunks of your text.
This Might Make You Feel A Little Better…
Ok, so each time you publish something on the Internet, it gets a date stamp. So no matter who stole your content, pictures, videos, etc. the search engines know by the date stamp which was published first. Googlebots usually crawl sites everyday and knows when new content has been added. So if your content is helping you earn money online, you shouldn’t lose any rankings if someone steals it. All knowing Google will know!
I hope you now have a better understanding how to deal with people who steal your content and how to file a DCMA takedown notice. It’s never fun to find out that your content is on another site. I know you’ve heard the expression, “imitation is the highest form of flattery” but certainly not in this case. If you’ve ever had a problem with this, leave a comment below.