In Plain English: A Quick Guide to DMCA Takedown Notices

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.