Copyright Infringement & DMCA

Copyright Infringement

What is copyright infringement? According to Wikipedia, it is the unauthorized use of copyrighted material in a manner that violates one of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works that build upon it.

As the web grows this seems to happen more than we’d like to think about – you publish your work online only to find that your intellectual property is being used on someone else’s web site verbatim, or as a derivative work, or even distributed freely to others for their own benefit, financial or otherwise.

So what can you do about copyright infringement?

It’s always best to seek the advice of an attorney or barrister familiar with intellectual property rights. For those of us without the means to retain legal representation, there are a few steps you can take to try and remedy the infringement.

We have been successful in the past by contacting the offending web site owner and their ISP.

  • Record screen shots and the source code of the offending pages for reference.
  • Check the public whois information to obtain the web site owner/registrant name and ISP.
  • Review the ISPs web site to obtain their copyright agent’s contact information.

Send an email message to the web site owner outlining the infringement, and remember to be civil. Inform them of the material that infringes on your intellectual property rights and ask that it be removed.

Address a Carbon Copy (Cc) to their ISP, make sure it’s not a Blind Carbon Copy (Bcc)as you want this visible to the infringer.


To: [Domain Owner]

From: [You]

Re: Copyright Infringement
[List web pages here]

Dear Mr./Ms. [Owner Name],

As the authorized agent for [Your Company] (Web Address), I am sending you this message to inform you that you are using copyrighted material in direct violation of U.S. Copyright laws and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) on the page(s) I have referenced above.

Screen shots and source code for the above noted page(s) have been recorded for necessary future reference, and a copy of this notification is being forwarded to your service provider, [ISP Name].

This may also be a violation of your ISPs Terms of Service (TOS) and/or Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), and could result in the termination of services and cancellation of your account.

As this is a clear violation of our intellectual property rights, I request that you remove or modify the copyrighted material as soon as possible and refrain from further use of our content without written authorization.

If we do not receive a favorable response from you within 7 days we will have no choice but to pursue other remedies afforded under the DMCA. We hope that this will not be necessary.

Best regards,

Your Name

Now that you’ve sent the person infringing on your intellectual property rights a message, you should file a Notification of Infringement with their ISP. It must include the following information or it will not be considered or acted upon:

  • A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
  • Identification of the copyrighted work you claim is being infringed, or, if you want to cover multiple copyrighted works in a single notice, a representative list of such works.
  • Identification of the material that you claim is infringing or is the subject of infringing activity and that you believe should be removed or access to which should be disabled, with information reasonably sufficient to permit us to locate the material.
  • Information reasonably sufficient to permit us to contact you, such as an address, telephone number and, if available, an electronic mail address at which you may be contacted.
  • A statement that you have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
  • A statement that the information in your notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that you are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

Fax the above to the copyright agent of record for the ISP. Some ISPs offer a form that you can fill out, if not, you can format your own.

In our experience, most ISPs will attempt to contact the registered owner and afford them an opportunity to remove the alleged infringing content prior to disabling access to the content in question.

Some ISPs immediately remove access to the content and then contact the owner to inform them of the notification they received.

It should be noted that the infringer can file a counter-notice claiming that there is no violation and the ISP must then restore acccess to the content within 10-14 days unless the complaining party serves notice that it intends to seek a court order.

In our past experiences, the web site owner had complied with our request or the ISP disabled access without objection from the infringing party.

We hope that this information is helpful to you. Please note that this is not legal advice nor should be considered as such, and is based solely on our own experiences.