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How to Enforce Your Copyright When Someone Steals Your Content

Copyright Infringement Protection

Copyright infringement is a common problem for anyone who publishes content online. It has probably happened to anyone of us, and even without us knowing! The internet is such a big place that it can be difficult to track if your content has been stolen. But what will you do if you are able to see that your copyright was indeed infringed? In this article, we will look at the steps on what you can do in situations like this.

Most of the steps we’ll discuss are designed to take advantage of the U.S.’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Since this law is only enforceable within the United States, some of the steps may not be applicable to countries outside of the U.S. Nonetheless; it wouldn’t hurt to learn some ways to enforce your copyright. Try to find out if your country has an equivalent law for the DMCA. For now, let us see the ways to enforce your copyright when someone steals your content.

Contact the Website Owner

The first step is to start by simply requesting the website owner to remove your content. If they agree, then your problem is solved. But maybe it won’t be as simple as that. Most of the time, people who stole your content knew exactly what they were doing and are not sorry for it. Regardless, it is important to notify the site owner of the infringing content before proceeding to the next steps. You may or may not get a response here, though.

You can contact the website owner through the website itself. Most of the time, there is contact information on the website. If not, that’s a hint that they do not want people bugging them about the contents they stole. What you can do is go to your preferred WHOIS service and type the domain name. What you will get is information that you can use for combating plagiarism. The results will include the contact information and email of the site owner.

If you do get a response from the site owner and they are resisting your request to remove the content, maybe you can consider turning the infringer into an associate instead. If your content is that valuable and is driving ad sales, if you can convince them to give you a share of the ad revenue, then you’ve won this round already.

Here’s a free email template.

Send a Takedown Notice to the Online Service Provider (OSP)

Don’t be surprised if the first step doesn’t work. The ideal scenario, of course, is if the infringer agrees to take down your content. But what if they don’t? The next step is to contact the company hosting the site or the online service provider. You can ask them to disable the infringing site. Fortunately, the DMCA gives incentives for Online Service Providers or OSPs when they disable infringing sites. The DMCA can offer them immunity from lawsuits granted that they can respond immediately when it comes to takedown notices.

Where Can I Find the Contact Information for the OSP?

Most often, you can find the contact information of the OSP by searching for its website. You may be able to the information directly from the OSP’s site. Try to look for the “Contact Us” or “Report Abuse” option on the web page.

However, this won’t always go down easy. If for example, you can’t find the contact information of the OSP, you can look for it at the U.S. Copyright Office. The DMCA encourages the OSPs to register with the U.S. Copyright Office; the chances are that you can find information there.

What do I Write in My Letter to the OSP?

Some OSPs may have some special instructions on their websites when it comes to this situation. They may require certain information before they can take action.

Generally, they would want to know your original material, a description of the infringing material along with the URL where it may be found, a statement that you did not give permission to the infringer to use the material, and that you swear under penalty of perjury that all of the information you have provided is true and correct and that you are acting in good faith. Also, include your contact information.

The notice must also contain your physical or electronic signature. Make sure to always keep copies of your communications and that they are professional. If the worst scenario comes, they may be used as evidence in court.

Send a Takedown Notice to the Company that Registers the URL

Most of the registrars disable domains that participate in copyright infringement. Once you know who they are, you can send the registrar a DMCA Takedown Notice as well.

Send a Takedown Notice to the Search Engines

As a final step, you can notify the search engines about the infringing content. The search engines can simply scrub them out of the search results. Each of the search engines has its own policies about where to send copyright infringement notices and what is supposed to be written in them. All the policies of the search engines are readily available online.

Here’s a free email template that you can use for the steps above.


What’s good about the steps above is you can perform them without the need for an attorney. But if you do earn some flak from the parties and they still continue with their practices, it may benefit you if you do get an attorney to set things right.

Again, these steps may only be applicable under the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA. It is only enforceable within the U.S. But always thinks that a lawsuit is a last resort.

Extend some patience and hope that they will agree to take down your content. You don't know; maybe the infringer is just an innocent teenager who wants to have some really, really good content on their latest site. If that's the case, you may request them to take it down and you can even give them some tips on how to create their own original content, in this way you won't just be enforcing your copyright, you can even help these budding writers.

Nicolas Finet
Nicolas Finet is a technically-minded marketer and Co-founder of Sort-List.  He is thrilled about developing his digital marketing skills and achieving his objectives of disrupting the whole marcom industry.

Gangadhar Kulkarni

Gangadhar Kulkarni is an internet marketing expert and consultant having extensive experience in digital marketing. He is also the founder of Seogdk and Director at DigiTechMantra Solutions, a one-stop shop for all that your website needs. It provides you cost-effective and efficient content writing and digital marketing services.

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