It’s a gorgeous, sunny day, and the phrase “how to write a DMCA takedown notice” isn’t even on your mind. You’re relaxing with a cup of tea, and thinking about how you’ve spent your last few weeks meticulously drawing and inking a hilarious 2-panel comic. Your friends love it. It’s up on your website and your social media. It hasn’t gone viral or anything, but you’re happy with how it turned out.
Then, you see an ad in your sidebar and click. You end up on a t-shirt site and find…your comic? On a t-shirt? On one hand, cool! On many other hands, what? They didn’t ask your permission, your name’s not even on the comic, and you’re definitely not seeing a cent of the money they’re making from sales.
What to do? This is why you need to know how to write a DMCA Takedown Notice.
DMCA stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and was signed into law in 1998. Ever since then, it’s been the intrepid piece of legislation standing between hardworking creators and people trying to rip them off. Sending a DMCA Takedown Notice can be a pretty simple process, even if it seems intimidating!
The most important thing to know up front is that your copyright doesn’t need to be registered–if you just want the site to take it down. If you want to file for damages (read: a hefty sum of cash), you’ll need to have that copyright registration in place.
That being said, sending a DMCA Takedown Notice is a 3-step process.
Step 1: When you find your content on someone else’s site, document it.
Pretty straightforward. This means take screenshots everywhere your pictures, comics, and/or written content appear. You’ll also want to copy and save the URLs where you take the screenshots–you’ll need them for your DMCA Takedown Letter.
Step 2: Find out who to contact.
Again, straightforward. If you’re sending a DMCA Takedown Notice, you need to know who to send it to! In this case, you’re looking for a copyright agent, and there are four places you’ll want to try:
Domain Tools offers an in-depth lookup–just type in the URL and get ready to be a little horrified at the information available online. If you’re medium-lucky, you’ll end up with an email address to contact.
If Domain Tools doesn’t work, try WhoIs–a similar service, where you can type in the infringing URL and scroll through the returned info until you find an email address.
Copyright.gov keeps a list of all the registered copyright agents for different Internet Service Providers. If the website you’re trying to contact hasn’t kept their information current, then it might be out of date–but otherwise, this is a good bet.
4. “Copyright” or “Terms and Conditions” pages on the website
Websites often have–or rather, should have, according to the DMCA law–a “copyright” or “terms and conditions” page available somewhere. You might have to dig for it, but once you get there, they usually have a copyright agent listed.
Step 3: This is how to write a DMCA takedown notice.
In your notice, you need to answer these basic questions:
- Which content are you accusing the receiver of “stealing”? (Example: “This is my comic, ‘Tortoise and Sloth.’”)
- What evidence do you have that they’re infringing on your copyright? (The screenshots and URLs mentioned in Step 1, is what.)
- Did you give permission? (The answer is no–this is called a “good faith belief” that they’re putting your comic on a t-shirt without permission.)
- How can they contact you to straighten all this out? (Generally suggested: address, phone number, and email address.)
- Is this notice accurate? (The basic answer is “yes”–we cover this further in legal language in the free template below.)
To make this even easier, we have a free DMCA takedown notice that you can use to your heart’s content. Just click here to download the PDF!
Do you have any questions about how to write a DMCA takedown notice? Comment below, and we’ll be happy to answer them!