By Princess Jones

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a piece of U.S. legislation that protects copyright holders from digital violations. The 1998 law had many ramifications but one of the most useful results was the DMCA takedown notice.

Let’s say that someone has copied your restaurant’s menu and food descriptions word for word for use on their own restaurant website. Or that someone is posting your blog posts on their own website. Or maybe a website is using photos you took. They had permission to do so upon payment, but the check bounced. Now what?

These are all cases where your copyright has been violated. Depending on any losses you may have suffered from the violation, you may be entitled to damages. Or maybe you don’t want anything other than the violator to stop using your property. Either way, you’ll need to start with DMCA takedown notice.

Finding the Information

The first step is to figure out who should get your notice. If the website that has your content or images on it has a contact email or form, you can start there. Often, if you send the violator a cease and desist letter explaining the issue, they will remove the content themselves.

To be clear, you aren’t required to contact the site owner first. If you’re sure they already know about the copyright infringement or you don’t believe they’ll be receptive, it might be more efficient to skip straight to the contacting the hosting company.

To find the hosting company, you can use a number search sites. Whois is a great place to start. It should give you the contact information for the website, unless it’s been registered privately. It should also show the nameservers the site is using, which will often denote the hosting company.

I’ve also used Host Advice to find hosting companies with some success. You just put in the URL and click “Find Hosting.” You’ll get a result with the name of the hosting company on the next page.

Submitting Your Form

So now that you know which company is hosting the website in question, it’s time to contact them. Poke around on the hosting company’s website. Many of them have dedicated mailboxes for DMCA forms.If you can’t find where the official submissions should go, you can just contact use the general help inbox.

Your request should include the following:

  • Identification of the content in question, including screenshots and links
  • A statement of the good faith belief that there has been no authorized usage granted
  • A statement of the notice’s accuracy and the authorization to act, under the penalty of perjury
  • Your contact information and a physical or electronic signature

If you’re looking for a template, check out IP Watchdog, The Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition, and The Pick one you like, fill it out, and send it into the hosting company.

If things go well, you’ll see some change pretty quickly. Just remember that the website owner had the right to respond. If they respond in a manner that makes the hosting company believe they have the right to use that content, they may be allowed to leave it up. At that point, you’ll have to pursue other legal options.

*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.