It’s a surreal moment when you see your work posted online. Perhaps you’re upset that they didn’t ask for your permission or that they didn’t give you as the author, the credit you deserve. You could also be flattered or excited to see it. However, if they’re making money out of your work, I’m sure you’ll definitely feel cheated. Whatever you’re feeling, you’re entitled to feel that way. Nevertheless, I’m here to tell you that you have options. One of which is the DMCA takedown notice.
Before I explain what a DMCA takedown notice is, we need to determine if your work is able to be protected by copyright law. Copyright law protects original works of art fixed in a tangible medium of expression.
Examples of Copyrightable Work
- Text, audio files, video content, and photographs that you see on a website (or elsewhere, for that matter)
- Sound recordings, including spoken and musical content of a podcast
- Articles similar to those found in print or digital magazines and newspaper
- Songs recorded on a CD, saved to a hard drive, or notated on sheet music
- Literary works such as books or computer programs
- Musical works (including the accompanying words)
- Dramatic works (including the accompanying music)
- Choreographic works
- Pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works
- Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
- Architectural works
Original means that the work must not be copied from someone else and must contain a minimal level of creativity. However, even though the originality bar is low, not everything is covered. For example, short phrases are not covered under copyright law (they are protected under trademark law). If your trademark or brand is being copied, read this Online Trademark Defense post.
DMCA Takedown Notice
Therefore, if you are the owner of copyrightable work that has been posted online without your permission, you can submit a DMCA complaint “takedown notice” due to copyright infringement.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides Online Service Providers (OSPs) with certain protections “safe harbors” from copyright infringement liability based on actions of persons using their systems or services. In exchange, OSPs need to comply with the DMCA’s notice, takedown, and counter-notice provisions. They also need to help copyright owners and take steps to promptly take down content that infringes their copyright.
Here’s What You Need To Do
The copyright owner needs to fill out a complaint online or send a letter to the OSP’s DMCA Designated Agent. This is the takedown notice or copyright infringement DMCA complaint. Once filled, the OSP will send the infringer the takedown notice and they’ll have a chance to respond. After this process, the OSP will decide whether or not to take down the content.
Before the DMCA, it was very difficult for copyright owners to enforce their copyright online because most of the time the identity of the infringer would be unknown. In these cases, copyright owners would end up having to directly sue the OSP just to force it to take down the infringing content.
Who are the OSPs? These Online Service Providers are website hosting companies or social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and others. Basically entities on whose servers or networks the infringing material that you claim is yours may be found. OSPs provide a service to persons using its system or network to store or transmit content.
Have a Copyright Registration Certificate
If you register your copyright, that registration certificate will definitely help you to prove to the intermediary OSP that you are the copyright owner of the work. That will make the DMCA takedown process easier for you. Plus, you cannot sue the infringer without having a copyright registration certificate.
Have you seen others copy your content online? Our intellectual property lawyers at Solid Rep will:
- Analyze your case
- Help you send a DMCA takedown notice,
- Negotiate a copyright license agreement with the infringer and/or
- Register your copyright.
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