I Got a DMCA Notice—What To Do Now?
If you’ve ever streamed or downloaded a movie illegally, the possibility of getting a DMCA notice must have crossed your mind at least once. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 was passed to supplement existing copyright laws in the United States and make fighting online copyright infringement easier for creative authors.
As the internet started being important in almost every aspect of our lives, and creative industries turned to new online technologies to reach their audience, learning how copyright works and how to copyright your content became more relevant than ever before.
What Is a DMCA Notice?
DMCA notices are a legal tool for the protection of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights to sell, distribute, and publicly show their content.
Whenever a copyright owner notices unauthorized use of their works, they have the right to send a DMCA takedown notice requesting the cessation of infringement. In most cases, authors send a takedown notice to internet service providers (ISPs) who notify their infringing customers. Authors can also choose to send their DMCA notices to website owners directly.
Creators of all kinds of original content can count on the DMCA protection as long as their content exists in digital form online. The most common examples of behavior that results in a DMCA notice include:
- Using copyrighted digital content—music, images, or text—without permission on websites, blogs, and social media
- Downloading digital content protected by copyright for personal use or public distribution
- Streaming unlicensed music, movies, and TV shows on illegal websites
- Torrenting copyrighted digital content
Even though it is not eternal, copyright lasts long enough for you to get in trouble if you engage in some of those activities.
What Does a Valid DMCA Notice Look Like?
While they can be a valuable resource for protecting the rights of creative authors, DMCA takedown notices have seen a fair share of abuse. To make sure that the DMCA notice you’ve received is legitimate, check what components must be present in the notification so it can pass as valid:
- An electronic or physical signature of the copyright owner
- Clear identification of the copyrighted work, including its name, title, and type of media
- Precise web location of the infringing content
- Sufficient contact information of the copyright owner
- A direct statement that the owner never issued permission to the infringing party to use the copyrighted work
- An additional statement that the DMCA takedown notice information is correct and that it comes from the copyright owner or the authorized agent of the copyright holder
What To Do After Receiving a DMCA Notice
Being accused of stealing and violating the law is stressful, even if it’s about digital content. While you shouldn’t start panicking and imagining your future days in prison right away, the most dangerous course of action is to do nothing about the DMCA notice that ended up in your inbox.
We have compiled a list of possible solutions and methods to improve your position in such situations:
- Stopping the infringement
- Learning about fair use
- Contacting the complainant
- Serving a DMCA counter-notice
- Asking for professional help
Stop the Infringement
If you get caught doing something bad, the next logical step is to stop doing it. Remove the infringing content from your website or computer, and refrain from doing it again. The internet abounds with free stock content and legitimate streaming services that you can access for free or for a small fee.
Learn About Fair Use
The fair use doctrine serves to keep copyright legislation in check pertaining to the First Amendment. The concept of fair use is often open to interpretation, so you should familiarize yourself with this line of defense well before invoking it.
Contact the Complainant
A lot of online copyright infringement happens without intention. Most people are not familiar with the finesse of copyright legislation and end up violating the author's rights without realizing it. If you used someone else’s work unintentionally, reach out to the copyright owner and explain the situation. Many copyright owners won’t push further if you promise to remove the infringing content.
Serve a DMCA Counter-Notice
Every internet service provider should have a designated DMCA agent. If you attempt to contact the complainant and it doesn’t go well, you can issue a counter-notice by contacting your ISP’s DMCA agent.
Make sure to include these elements when writing your DMCA counter-notice:
- Identification of infringing content that you removed and its location
- Statement of good faith that you used the infringing content due to an error or misunderstanding
- Contact details
- Statement of consent to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court
Ask for Professional Help
After you serve a DMCA counter-notice, the complainant has two weeks to withdraw the notice or file a copyright lawsuit. They will reach for the latter option if they register the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. To prepare for the lawsuit, research available paid or pro bono legal services in your area.
If your DMCA notice leads to court in the end, you will be facing penalties which can be:
How To Find Designated DMCA Agents
You can usually find the contact details of designated DMCA agents for your internet service provider on their copyright and trademark policy web pages. The table below provides contact information for some of the most popular ISPs in the United States:
5454 West 110th Street
Overland Park, Kansas 66211
|Address||Mediacom Internet Enforcement Team
1613 Nantahala Beach Road
Gulf Breeze, FL 32563
|Address||Registered Copyright Agent
4825 Creekstone Drive, Suite 300
Durham, NC 27703
How Can DoNotPay Help You Protect Your Work?
If you find yourself looking for protection of your creative content, you don’t have to worry about writing invalid DMCA notices. DoNotPay can create well-written and efficient takedown notices on your behalf if you follow these easy steps:
- Create your DoNotPay account in a web browser
- Sign in and select DMCA Takedown
- Enter the details about your work and the infringement
- Provide your contact info
- Click on the Sign and Submit button to finish
DMCA notices created by DoNotPay will work even if you don’t have a way to prove your ownership.
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