As authors, piracy is a constant threat to our income and property. Some don’t mind having their works available for download, while others are adamant that their work should be purchased.
Should you find your works posted on a pirate website—or worse, plagiarized with someone else’s name as the author—you can take action to remove the infringing material using the legal tools provided by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. Please note that sending false claims can get you into legal trouble, so don’t use the DMCA tools to play a practical joke. These tools can be used by non-US authors. The good news is it’s easy to do the steps required; the bad news is it may take some time for the works to be removed.
To be proactive, you should request your fans to alert you when they find pirated works in the Internet. Another proactive approach is to set up a Google Alert using a unique sentence or two from your story. It’s best to catch the pirates as soon as possible to get the link removed before too many people find it.
Our first stop is Google, currently the world’s most popular search engine. Using their copyright infringement tool to delete links to your stolen material is simple. For example, to delete a link from Google’s web search results:
You may, of course, send a notice via fax or post. Most sites require your first notice of infringement to be sent via fax or post so they will have your signature on file, but Google does not. Google will post your DMCA notice (without your name and signature) to chillingeffects.org.
For Yahoo and Bing, you will need to send your first request via fax or post. Subsequent requests can be emailed. I have included a generic sample DMCA request at the end of this article, plus links to targeted DMCA sample requests, including Yahoo and Bing.
Mail or fax your Yahoo request to:
c/o Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Fax: (408) 349-7821
Mail or fax your Bing request to:
Attn: K. Carlson
Microsoft Corporation – The Microsoft Network
One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052
Fax: (425) 936-7329
Now that we’ve taken care of the links, we can focus on getting rid of the actual infringing content. There are two avenues we can take. The first is to request the infringing website to remove the content. Places like Scribd.com and Pastebin.com will typically act on a DMCA notice quickly because they are concerned the US Government will seize their domains. The other path is to send the request to the hosting company of the infringing website. If your content is posted on a random person’s site, this is a better method to get the content removed. Some overseas sites and host providers, especially in China, will not care about copyrighted material, and they’ll both ignore your request.
To start, we must first find out who owns the domain and where they are hosted. The research tool to find the owner and host is called a WhoIs Lookup. There are several versions available. I will typically use either MXToolbox or Network Solutions. For MXToolbox, surf to their site and click on the down arrow at the end of their menu. Select WhoIs Lookup from the menu and enter in the pirate domain name. For Network Solutions, at the bottom of their page you will find a WhoIs link. Click on that, then enter in the domain name. You should get something similar to this, using HORROR.ORG as our example:
Created On:16-Sep-1995 04:00:00 UTC
Last Updated On:09-Dec-2011 08:11:40 UTC
Expiration Date:15-Sep-2021 04:00:00 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:GoDaddy.com, Inc. (R91-LROR)
Status:CLIENT DELETE PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT RENEW PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT UPDATE PROHIBITED
Registrant Name:Angel Leigh McCoy
Registrant Organization:Horror Writers of America
Registrant Street1:244 5th Ave., Suite 2767
Registrant City:New York
Registrant State/Province:New York
Registrant Postal Code:10001
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
(truncated a long repetitive list)
Lucky for us, this domain seems legit and has plenty of contact information. You can send a DMCA request to the Owner, Administrator or the Technical Contact. If someone’s site was hacked and is being used to host pirated material, this method would get a fast response. The site owner may thank you for alerting them to their site getting hacked.
Let’s say that the site had false or outdated information. We can send our DMCA notice to the host of the pirate site. At the bottom of the list are listings for the Name Server, which is how computers translate website names into numeric addresses that they can understand. Copy the site name and extension, in this case LUNARIFFIC.COM, and run it through the WhoIs Lookup tool. The tool will show you who is hosting the infringing website.
1360 N. Hancock St.
Anaheim, CA 92807
Domain name: LUNARIFFIC.COM
Webhosting, Lunarpages email@example.com
1360 N. Hancock St.
Anaheim, CA 92807
(truncated additional information)
It turns out the (probably undead) pirate site HORROR.ORG is hosted by LUNARPAGES.COM. Send your DMCA notice to the host, and they will help to get the copyrighted material removed, or they may even kill the entire pirate site.
You can, if you feel it is warranted, send a DMCA notice to the website and the host. Remember to always be professional — finding your work pirated or plagiarized is not a fun thing, but getting it killed will give you at least a modicum of satisfaction.
If you have any questions, or if you need assistance in tracking down who is pirating your copyrighted work, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Generic DMCA Request follows. Notes are in [square brackets]. Attn: Legal Department, [Web Site Legal Name: ARRGH-A-PIRATE.COM] Pursuant to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, 17 USC 512(c)(3)(A), this communication serves as a statement that: 1. I am the exclusive rights holder for the title(s), listed below, of copyrighted material being infringed upon: Title, Publisher, Date of Release, ISBN My Cool Book, Tor, 4/1/2001, 9781234567890 My Warm Book, Tor, 4/1/2002, 9780123456789 [TITLE (you can do more than one on a single take-down and save time), PUBLISHER (list the full publishing history of a book), DATES OF RELEASE, and the ISBNS the title has had. If the book has had several ISBNs, list them all. If there were multiple publishers, list them all.] 2. These exclusive rights are being violated by material available on your site at the following URL(s): a) http://www.arrgh-a-pirate.com/stolenbooks/My-Cool-Book.html b) http://www.arrgh-a-pirate.com/stolenbooks/My-Warm-Book.html [Use the full URL address to the infringing material] 3. I have a good faith belief that the use of this material in such a fashion is not authorized by the copyright holder, the copyright holder's agent, or the law. 4. Under penalty of perjury in a United States court of law, I state that the information contained in this notification is accurate, and that I am the exclusive rights holder for the material in question. 5. I may be contacted by the following methods: EMAIL: email@example.com URL: http://www.myauthorwebsite.com/contact.htm POST: Ima Author, POBox 123, Town, NY, 12345-0123 [Your email address may be placed on a spam list. Use GMail or an email with a good spam filter if you can.] 6. I hereby request that you remove or disable access to this material as it appears on your service in as expedient a fashion as possible. Thank you. Regards, [If you write under a pen name, you can use it here. Otherwise, use your real name.]
I would like to thank and acknowledge both Cari Silverwood and Sam Stone for a copy of the DMCA notice they’ve used to successfully remove infringing material.
An example Yahoo DMCA notice, in Word format, can be found at http://www.seologic.com/worddoc/dmca-yahoo.doc
An example Bing DMCA notice, in Word format, can be found at
Guy Anthony De Marco is a member of the HWA Web Team. His author website is located at www.GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.