In the old days, if you saw your work being used without your permission, or in a derogatory way, you contacted the user and told them off, usually with a strongly worded letter, sometimes through a lawyer. Today, with the internet and all that website jazz, you might need to use something like a DMCA – Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice, aka DMCA takedown notice, or DMCA request.
A DMCA is an American piece of legislation that addresses the illegal display of copyrighted work on US-based websites, but requesting a digital content takedown is also appropro in New Zealand. Anything that is copyrighted in the physical world (literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works) is also copyrighted in the digital world.
A takedown notice informs a company, internet service provider, search engine or web host that they are hosting or linking to material that infringes on a copyright. That company is responsible for taking down the material as soon as possible, and if the site owner doesn’t comply, they are liable for copyright infringement.
There are many takedown notice templates online, but the basic elements to include in your notice to a company are: the URL and title of the content, contact information, your signature, and that you believe that copyright is being infringed upon because the owner (you) did not give permission. Many companies have their own forms for you to fill out, but if in doubt, use a template, or hire an agent to file for you.
One caveat – be sure that it really is a copyright infringement. Be aware that there are certain ways your content can be used without your permission, under the exceptions of fair dealing (NZ) and in certain situations according to the Copyright Act (1994.) If the infringement is happening on a website based overseas, you can reasonably expect the appropriate response to a DMCA take down notice, as long as the country is a member of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization.)
If you’ve been issued a takedown notice, diligently investigate the information and material, as well as ascertaining the true copyright owner. Remove the content immediately, but if you suspect the person who issued the notice is being dishonest or there is a misunderstanding, contact the person to sort it out.
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