DMCA stands for Digital Millenium Copyright Act and is a US law that sets out certain steps to follow that will encourage online and internet service providers to take down content when a copyright owner claims that their content is being used without their permission.
A DMCA notice or DMCA complaint is a simple and fast document that complies with the requirements of the DMCA law that you can send over to a web hosting company, cyberlocker or person, to encourage them and ask them to remove your copyrighted work from websites which are using or distributing it without your explicit permission. Nowadays, it’s the most effective tool to remove copyrighted content from illegal/pirate websites.
In order to be successful with removing content from these websites, you must understand the different sections of a DMCA takedown notice, otherwise the document can be rejected due to minor issues that could have been fixed from the very beginning.
Please keep in mind that the information below is a free-form notice, which is a notice that must be manually created with a template and then you should send it via email. Lots of websites have simplified this process (and made it harder to get wrong) by offering you an online abuse contact form; this form will save you some time because you only need to fill in the required fields and hit the ‘Send’ button, but some websites lack this contact form, so it’s important to know the manual process. Our mission is removing copyrighted work from those websites, no matter the method of communication.
It’s very important to take a quick look at the website you are reporting the content to to see if they have an online abuse contact form, so you can skip the step of creating a manual DMCA. These forms are usually found on the company’s website in sections such as:
- DMCA Report
- Report Abuse etc.
If there is no form, you should check these sections anyway before sending a report. These sections usually include specific emails addresses to report abuses, recommendations, designated agent, etc.
The very first and simple step in a DMCA takedown notice. We must setup the date in the document the same day we send it over. The date allows us, and the companies we send the document to, to have a record of when it was sent and see how many days it’s taking that company to reply back.
We suggest using a standard date format, which includes the full name of the month. e.g. 3 March 2014 or March 3, 2014
2. Sender Information
If you are the owner of the copyright, this section must be filled in with your personal details - the owner of the copyright or their agent must complete the form, so if you are doing it for someone else you will need to have their permission and you will need to add their details here.
The most frequent elements used in this section are:
- Full name
- Email address
- Envato Market username
- Postal address
If your copyright is registered then you should add your registration numbers in this section as well. Please be aware that your copyright does NOT have to be registered to send a DMCA notice.
See a full example of this section below:
ThemeForest username: AndrewEternalHarlan (URL/link of your ThemeForest portfolio)
PO Box 16122 Collins Street West
Victoria 8007 Australia
3. Recipient Information
You must include the details of the company you are sending the DMCA takedown notice to in this specific section. How can you find these details? Here you have a couple of tricks to find that information.
3.1 If you visit the company’s website, specifically the section/page ‘About’, ‘About Us’, ‘Contact’, ‘Report Abuse’, ‘Copyright’, you will be able to see the full details of the company, including business name, mailing address, email address, etc.
3.2 If you don’t know the company which is currently hosting the website distributing your work, you can always find more details by using the WHOIS lookup tool, we provide a full article with instructions on how to use this tool here: HOW TO USE THE WHOIS LOOKUP TOOL
See an example of this section below. This is an example of the recipient information we would need if we had to send a DMCA to YouTube. This information is available via the following link: http://www.youtube.com/yt/copyright/copyright-contact-info.html
901 Cherry Ave.
San Bruno, CA 94066
4. Sent via
DMCAs don’t necessarily need to be sent via email, you can also send them via fax or mail. Obviously email is the fastest way, but if you don’t receive a response you could try the old methods too. The important thing is to identify within your document the method you are using to send it.
Sent via: Email or Sent via: Fax
5. Rights Owner(s)
Specify in this part the name of the company or person who retains the rights of the work you are reporting. You can also add in this section your Envato Market username. See example below:
Rights Owner(s): Andrew Harlan / ThemeForest username: AndrewEternalHarlan (URL/link of your ThemeForest portfolio)
6. Rights Agent
The purpose of a Rights Agent is to act as the point of contact, receive and send claims of copyright or intellectual property infringements. It is someone you have authorised to act on your behalf. For this specific section you can chose whether to include Envato’s name or you can leave it blank. If you do want to mention Envato, it’s ok use Envato’s details because you have already authorised Envato as your agent, under the Envato Market membership terms.
Rights Agent: Envato Pty Ltd
7. Infringed Rights
As the DMCA is about copyright, you need to have a claim of breach of copyright when you complete your DMCA form. In some cases you might also want to mention that there is a breach of your trademark.
You’ll likely be using ‘Copyright’ in the DMCAs you send. See the text you should use below:
Infringed Rights: Copyright
8. Infringed Content(s)
This is the section where you confirm the specific item or work from your portfolio which is being infringed or illegally distributed. You should fill in this section with URLs or links of your work, as below:
Tip: Make sure to use the shortest version available for links or URLs, so the company can easily check the content without clicking on too many places, your DMCA will look better with very specific links.
9. Infringing Activity
One of the most important sections within a DMCA takedown notice. You must explain in detail and very clearly in which way the activity in question is affecting or hurting your work. Also in which way the website in question are distributing or illegally using your copyrighted work. Feel free to provide all the material you want in order to confirm the infringement (URLs, screenshots, etc).
If you do not provide a clear explanation of what’s happening, then your DMCA will likely be rejected and the company you are reporting the content to will request you to re-send the DMCA including more specific details.
See a sample text below that we’ve used when reporting illegal content taken from Envato Market. EternityBur, BotBotStorage and AstroLamur are fake companies we are using for this example.
Infringing Activity: Copyright / Content Distribution
EternityBur is a website distributing and sharing items from my ThemeForest portfolio without explicit licensing or permission from the original copyright holder, Andrew Harlan (ThemeForest username: AndrewEternalHarlan (URL/link of your ThemeForest portfolio)).
In the URLs I have provided under the section ‘Infringing URLs’ you can see how EternityBur is offering links from known cyberlockers as BotBotStorage and AstroLamur to distribute the work from my ThemeForest portfolio for free. There is no license on ThemeForest that would allow this type of activity and this illegal distribution of my work is affecting my sales.
We are asking for your immediate assistance in stopping this unauthorized activity. Specifically, we request you to remove these files from your network/servers, to disable the access to the sites/pages and that you inform the website administrator of the illegality of his or her conduct.
10. Infringing URLs
You must insert here the specific links where your content is being distributed. Identify the material that you claim is infringing your rights.These should be URLs or links only.
Remember that the infringing URLs should match with the items or work you are reporting on the section ‘Infringed Content(s)’.
You DMCA must include the following statements, these are mandatory statements to confirm that you own the rights of the content you are reporting or that you are an authorized agent/person to do so. These statements are the same for all the DMCA takedown notices, so these will be part of your custom DMCA template.
“I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.”
12. Additional Information
At the end of the document we usually add some additional information about consequences of ignoring the DMCA notice and contact details in order for them to contact us back. See this additional information below:
“Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, if you ignore this notice, you and/or your company may also be liable for any resulting infringement. This letter does not constitute a waiver of any right to recover damages incurred by virtue of any such unauthorized activities, and such rights as well as claims for other relief are expressly retained.
Should you require any further information regarding this matter, please contact me at:
PO Box 16122 Collins Street West
Victoria 8007 Australia"
13. Electronic Signature
The DMCA must be signed by you, the owner of the content you are reporting (or as agent for the owner). Just add your full name at the bottom of the DMCA. Example:
Sending a DMCA takedown notice is serious business. Sending a wrong, false or too many invalid DMCAs can have legal consequences. A DMCA takedown notice is still the best method to report illegal content but make sure to use it responsibly.
We have created a sample template for you that you can use when reporting content to these websites, you can download it by visiting the following link:
You can always contact Envato Support if you have any questions about sending your own DMCA takedown notice.
Q. Can I file a DMCA takedown notice if I’m not the copyright holder or authorized agent?
A. Unfortunately not. The DMCA must be sent by the copyright holder or agent/person authorized to report the content in question.
Q. I found my item on a website which is distributing it via cyberlockers links. What should I do?
A. You must send DMCAs independently. First send a DMCA to remove your file from the cyberlockers, this one should be sent to each cyberlocker of course. After that, file a new DMCA to the company hosting the website in question.
Q. The company I sent the DMCA to is asking me to re-send a DMCA takedown notice from an Envato email address? What should I do?
A. Authors from Envato Market also retain ownership of their work. You can reply back to them with the following text:
I am the copyright holder of the content complained about in the DMCA notice (attached).
Please note that Envato does not own my content, I use Envato Market to offer my content for sale to others. Ownership remains with me.
Under the US Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) there is no legal requirement to provide an email address that belongs to a company (such as Envato). You cannot reject my DMCA notice because I have a personal email address. The content is my intellectual property and I am the owner. I have provided you with my contact details as part of the notice, including my email address.
Please act on my DMCA notice expeditiously as required by law.”
Q. I want to report my work and the website hosting my work has the option to send a DMCA takedown notice via free-form and Abuse Contact Form? Which one should I use?
A. Both are the same, both require the same information but Abuse Contact Form is faster. If the option is available use the Abuse Contact Form available online.