Digital content theft is an unfortunate reality that business owners, brands, and content creators must be prepared to deal with. Whether someone steals a blog post you created, republishes one of your digital downloads or offers a counterfeit product of yours for sale on the web, you need to know your options for getting the content removed from the internet while you work to pursue other legal remedies, such as suing for copyright infringement.
One of the fastest ways to achieve this goal is to directly contact the company that hosts the website where your stolen content has been found online. The good news is that the process is relatively straightforward and easy to follow, which is always a concern for those who are less tech-savvy.
If you’ve never looked up the hosting provider of a website before, simply follow the steps below.
Step 1: Conduct a WhoIS Lookup Using ICANN’s Search Tool
Simply enter the domain name of the website where your stolen content appears in the search box at https://lookup.icann.org/ (I have entered my website address as an example in the graphic below).
Step 2: Look for the DNS Name Server
DNS Name Servers point to the servers that are used to host the site, and hence the hosting company. This is not to be confused with the registrar information, which is where someone purchased their domain name, which may or may not be the same site where the website is hosted.
Step 3: Go to the Website Listed in the DNS Server Information
As you can see in this example, my website host is Cloudflare.com. When you go to the hosting website for the offending party, you’ll want to look for a link where you can report intellectual property theft or file a DCMA takedown notice. Typically, this is found at the bottom of the website or in the top navigation. You may also find these options listed under tabs for “support” or “contact us.”
On the site of my web host provider, the information that I need is located under the “support” tab on both the top of the site and in the bottom navigation.
Step 4: Follow the Steps Required by The Web Host to Report Your Stolen Content
You can learn more about the mechanics of filing a DCMA takedown notice here. Different hosts may have different processes and procedures, so be sure to clearly read through the information provided and follow the instructions.
Step 5: Consult with an Intellectual Property Attorney
Even if you are successful in getting the content removed, the damage may be done, perhaps in the form of your content or products being reproduced by counterfeiters or maybe your brand is now tarnished in the marketplace. The good news is that you may still have legal actions that you can pursue against the offending party. Be sure to consult with a qualified copyright attorney to discuss your options and your rights.
Before filing a takedown notice keep in mind that the DMCA requires that a takedown notice must be based on a “good faith belief” that the targeted material is not authorized by the copyright owner. The penalties for misrepresentation can include actual damages and attorney’s fees. Specifically, Section 512(f) of the DMCA reads:
Misrepresentations.—Any person who knowingly materially misrepresents under this section–
(1) that material or activity is infringing, or
(2) that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification, shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys” fees, incurred by the alleged infringer, by any copyright owner or copyright owner’s authorized licensee, or by a service provider, who is injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of the service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing, or in replacing the removed material or ceasing to disable access to it. 17 U.S.C.A. § 512 (West)
If you need assistance, contact our trademark and copyright attorneys at 888-666-0062 to schedule a consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.