DMCA Takedown Tutorial: Protect Your Online Content

DMCA Takedown Tutorial: Protect Your Online Content

If you publish content that performs well on search engines, another webmaster will eventually attempt to steal it; it’s almost inevitable. What’s important is how you deal with it. Thankfully, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act exists to protect people from content theft, and you don’t need to be a lawyer to make the DMCA work for you.

Content Theft Can Happen to You

I’d like to begin by telling you a true story: at the end of 2011, I was given pre-release access to a product that was certain to be a hot seller within its niche. I had a great affiliate program through which to promote the product, so I immediately set to work on putting together a small website explaining every aspect of it. One page of the website was a comprehensive instruction manual — something the product lacked. The website attracted a great deal of traffic and became the Internet’s only true authority site about that product.

However, several months later, something horrifying happened: the Chinese manufacturer of the product decided to take the manual and begin distributing it to American resellers without consulting me. The American resellers, not knowing that the Chinese manufacturer wasn’t the original source of the manual, begin printing the manual and publishing it online.

This could easily happen to you. You might put something online thinking that it’s just another affiliate website, but you never know if that will be the one that really catches on and attracts parasites from all over the world. If you are working on a project that you believe has real potential, register your content with the United States Copyright Office. Why? Anything that you create and publish online automatically has copyright protection. However, the theft of a registered work may entitle you to statutory damages. If the stolen content is unregistered, you’ll have to prove that the theft has damaged you monetarily to receive compensation. Obviously, you’ll want to consult a lawyer about the particulars of your situation before you decide how to proceed.

So, let’s get to work on getting that stolen content offline and removed from search engine results pages.

Web Host DMCA Takedown

The first thing you’ll do is contact the company hosting the offending website. McAnerin International hosts the DMCA takedown notice that you’ll be using as a template. You’ll be sending the host a notice indicating that you expect them to remove or disable access to the stolen content within 24 hours.

  1. Download and open the Web host DMCA template.
  2. Find out who is hosting the infringing website. Who Is Hosting This is one tool you can use.
  3. Find the host’s contact information from their website. If possible, look for an address such as “legal@company.com” or “DMCA@company.com.” Otherwise, use whatever contact information is available. You’ll also need the address and phone number of the Web host.
  4. Find the contact information for the website owner who has stolen your content if possible. If the website doesn’t belong to a business and no contact information is available, check the domain registration information using a WHOIS search.
  5. Type the Web host’s contact information in the Recipient Information area.
  6. Enter your contact information in the Sender Information area.
  7. Describe the nature of the content theft in detail. The DMCA takedown template has spaces for you to insert the original text, the infringing text and the URLs on which both appear.
  8. Enter the contact information of the person or company who has stolen your content.
  9. Save the DMCA takedown template and email it to the Web host.

Google DMCA Takedown

The next step in the DMCA takedown process is to remove the stolen content from Google’s search results pages.

  1. Navigate to Google’s content removal page and select the Web Search radio button.
  2. Select the I have a legal issue that is not mentioned above radio button.
  3. Select the I have found content that may violate my copyright radio button.
  4. Select the Yes radio button to indicate that you are the owner of the stolen content.
  5. Select the Yes radio button to indicate that you wish to proceed.
  6. Identify the type of content stolen and then click the This Form link. This brings you to Google’s DMCA takedown form.
  7. Enter your contact information.
  8. Describe the copyrighted work in detail. Be as thorough as possible, especially if your page also contains content that wasn’t stolen.
  9. Provide the location where Google can find the content that was stolen.
  10. Sign, date and submit the form.


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