So, you’ve found a photo or video of yours on someone else’s website without any accreditation and without any permission having been given: what now?

Most likely, you’re going to want to use a DMCA Takedown Notice, an easy, lawyer-free way to get your content removed without having a registered copyright.

The DMCA, or, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, was signed into law in 1998 in an effort to implement international standards agreed upon at the 1996 conference of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Though it does not seek statutory damages, the DMCA Takedown Notice provides a relatively simply and effective way of retaining the rights to one’s own content.


Before detailing how it works, however, it’s important to note a couple exceptions to the DMCA so you’re not barking up the wrong tree.:

  1. As a US law, the DMCA does not extend to other countries. And, since it is aimed at ISPs and other hosts, rather than site’s admins, it may be likely that the site stealing your content (like TPB) may be based overseas, and thus unlikely to respond to your request.
  2. DMCA does not override “Fair Use” and other laws pertaining to infringement exceptions. Make sure you’re aware of these.
  3. The work being infringed must be in digital form (the “D” part). If someone photographs your film and posts it online without your permission this may be infringement, but is not relevant to DMCA laws.

Yeah, it’s that thing.

If you still want to send a DMCA Takedown Notice, here’s how you do it:

  1. Find the IP address of the site– Because DCMA Takedowns are aimed at ISPs and not individual sites, you’ll need to contact the host directly. This means finding the site’s IP address. While there are a few methods of various complexity to do this, some sites, like HostingChecker, will do it for you for free.
  2. Use the IP address to find the ISP– Once you get the IP, you can use sites like WhatismyIPAddress to find the ISP, who should be the one receiving the notice.

    Follow the cookie crumbs…

  3. Craft your DMCA Takedown– There are various requirements for a Takedown letter to be official, all of which can be found here under “Elements of Notification.” For those of us more inclined to copy-and-pasting, a sample DMCA Takedown, complete with headings for each appropriate field, can be found here.
  4. Send it to the ISP– Different providers have different methods of communication and, while some may have easy forms for sending in your request, others may not. Nonetheless, you must send your request in whatever form they specify (even fax).
  5. Wait for a Response– A majority of hosts will profess ignorance and apologize profusely. Simply put, most individuals believe the internet is the Wild West of content, where anything and everything can be taken by force with no repercussions. A DCMA Takedown Notice will disabuse them of that notion.

Some, however, will remain indignant that you’re attempting to claim ownership over something you put on the web (“you should have known better,” they’ll say). In that case, continue putting pressure on their ISP, who is both a. legally liable and b. in control of the hosts’ site. With their own necks on the line, they’re sure to be more reasonable.

Filthy, neck-bearded pirates.

Now go and patrol the high seas!