More often than not, when I send someone a DMCA takedown notice, or I decide to pursue legal action against a legitimate pirate enterprise, I get called a troll. And if you’re making your content because you love doing it, you probably think, “I don’t want to be a troll!”
Trust me–you’re not a troll. Let me explain.
What is a troll?
Copyright trolls are different from other types of internet trolls; you know, the people who lurk in the comments playing Devil’s Advocate to get a rise out of other commenters.
Instead, copyright trolls are the corporate version of that. They’re people who amass large intellectual property portfolios just for the purpose of catching people who try to use their stuff, unlicensed.
Do they use the content in their IP portfolio for themselves? They do not.
Do they have endless amounts of resources to devote to setting IP traps and bringing lawsuits against the haplessly ensnared? They often do.
Their end goal is, actually, not so different from the pirate’s end goal–to make money via someone else’s intellectual property. Though the main difference is pirates do it outside the legal system, and copyright trolls do it with the help of the legal system.
Who are you?
You, I’m assuming, are a content creator. You spend your time making informative videos, or entertaining gifs, or experimental music. You have likely spent years practicing and refining your particular craft, and your content is a huge part of who you are.
Do you care hugely about amassing an enormous IP portfolio from other people’s work? Probably not. I’d guess your goals lie elsewhere–like in creating a portfolio to land you a job/licensing contract/record deal in your chosen field.
Do you have endless resources to set IP traps for other people to fall into? No. And if you suddenly had more resources, you would probably put them right back into your content creation without a second thought.
Why are you pursuing legal action?
If you’re making content that is either currently making you a profit, or will hopefully one day turn a profit, someone that steals your content is, essentially, stealing your money. If you pursue legal action, it’s because you treat your creative practice as a business, and you respect yourself and your work enough to get the money you deserve.
You are not pursuing legal action on someone else’s content because you have nothing better to do.
Conclusion: You’re not a troll.
The only reason someone would call you a troll is because they’re defending themselves with an excuse instead of facing reality; and the reality is they stole your content. Remember, they are the thief.
Protecting yourself does not mean you’re in the wrong. Registering the copyrights on your work, and taking appropriate legal action when those copyrights are violated, is perfectly reasonable. In fact, it’s even encouraged, especially when the person who stole your work is an experienced pirate who will do the same to other creators.