Re: How to Protect your Writing: DMCA Takedown Notice

#1
So a kind soul here on RR found my novel, Post Human, being illegally shared under a different name and title on webnovel.com and brought it to my attention.  I had to figure out how to file a takedown notice, and thought I would share the steps to make it easier for others who may need to do the same.  Bear in mind this is the law in the USA, so if you live elsewhere, you may have a slightly different process.  Since most websites want to do business in the USA, I suspect this process will still work (just minus the law name, or inserting your home country's version of this law).

Before you get started, first make sure it isn't considered Fair Use.  Small portions of a work are allowed, under certain conditions, to be copied legally.  You can check to see if the situation meets these criteria by learning about Fair Use here: Stanford University - Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors.  Now, if they are copying your entire work, that is blatantly illegal, and you can get right to the Takedown Notice.

1. Get Screenshots.  For written works, this may not be necessary, since you can provide URLs for the infringing material, and a copy of the legal material for reference.  But cover your bases, and get screenshots in case you need them or are asked for them.

2. Find out who the website's host is.  This can be accomplished at whoishostingthis.com or a lookup site of your own choosing.

3. Determine the host's Copyright Agent. For US-based webhosts, they are required by law to have a Copyright Agent to handle these requests.  You can find this information usually by going to the bottom footer of the website and looking for "Legal" or "Terms of Use" or something similar.  For non-US websites, there is still usually a section on Copyright Infringement in the same place, that will describe who to reach out to, and sometimes a process, for filing a takedown notice.  If it is a US-based website, but you cannot find the Copyright Agent, you can go to US Copyright Office Directory of Copyright Agents and look there.

4. Draft your Takedown Notice.  I have included the one that I used below.  I AM NOT A LAWYER.  I drafted this based off what I could find online.  Many websites, such as google.com and youtube.com have their own pre-filled template web forms where you just plug in your information.  For those that do not, you are welcome to take advantage of my own research.  There are a bunch of items that are required by law to be in the Takedown Notice.

From 17 U.S. Code § 512.Limitations on liability relating to material online, you need the following items included in your Takedown Notice.
Quote:(i) A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed. 
(ii) Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site. 
(iii) Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material. 
(iv) Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted. 
(v) A statement that the complaining party has 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. 
(vi) A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
The Notice I used is here: DMCA Takedown Notice Template. Again, I am not a lawyer.  This is what I used, but a lawyer might recommend something else.  If the link doesn't work for you, I included it below.
Quote:Your Name
Your Address 1
Your Address 2

Date

Webhost
Attention: [Copyright Agent Name]
Address 1
Address 2

RE: Copyright Infringement

To whom it may concern:

I am the copyright owner of the novel being infringed at the website [INFRINGING WEBSITE], at the urls detailed in the attached “Appendix A” below.  A legal copy of the novel being infringed is included to assist with its removal from the infringing websites and can also be found here: [Royal Road URL for your story here], where I published it under the pseudonym “[RR Username]”.

This letter is official notification under the provisions of Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to effect removal of the above-reported infringements. I request that you immediately issue a cancellation message as specified in RFC 1036 for the specified postings and prevent the infringer, who is identified by its web address, from posting the infringing material to your servers in the future. 

Please be advised that the law requires you, as a service provider, to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receiving this notice. Under US law, a service provider, such as yourself, enjoys immunity from a copyright lawsuit provided that you act with deliberate speed to investigate and rectify ongoing copyright infringement. If service providers do not investigate and remove or disable the infringing material this immunity is lost. Therefore, in order for you to remain immune from a copyright infringement action you will need to investigate and ultimately remove or otherwise disable the infringing material from your services will all due speed. 

I am providing this notice in good faith and with the reasonable belief that my rights as the copyright owner are being infringed. Under penalty of perjury I certify that the information contained in the notification is both true and accurate and I am the copyright holder. 

Please send me at the address above a prompt response indicating the actions you have taken to resolve this matter. 

Sincerely,

{Your Electronic Signature}

[Your Legal Name], aka “[Your RR Pseudonym/Username]”
Phone: +1-555-555-5555
Email: [your email]


Appendix A:  Complete List of Infringing Webpages
  1. URL 1 [Main infringing page]
  2. URL 2 [Include main page and all chapter pages for infringing work]
  3. URL 3 [etc…. Until all chapters are linked individually]
5. Send Your Notice.  The webhost may offer an easy method of submitting a Takedown Notice, as well as a physical mailing address.  I opted for the cautious approach in my case, where I submitted my Notice electronically, then mailed a paper copy as well.  I would suggest, at a minimum, sending a paper copy.  Make sure you sign the notice (electronic signatures are acceptable).

As long as your notice has all the items required, the website should remove the illegal content in a reasonable amount of time.  The person who stole your work can still file a counter-notice to dispute your Takedown Notice, but that shouldn't stop the webhost from removing the content during the dispute.

I hope this helps!

JP Koenig

Re: How to Protect your Writing: DMCA Takedown Notice

#3
Quick reminder to all authors:

Occasionally search online for a sentence or two from your synopsis and a chapter, using quote marks. Probably avoid sentences that include character, item, or place names as these can easily be changed. This should show you all publicly accessible websites hosting your content, so that you can spot any unauthorised duplications.