Understanding the Nuts and Bolts of the DMCA Takedown Notice — The Takedown Notice

The DMCA Takedown Notice is one of those seemingly mythical devices copyright holders use to help stymie the spread of their works over the internet. A lot of people don’t understand exactly what they are or how they’re used—but that’s what we’re here for.

Where Do These Things Come From?

DMCA takedown notices emerged from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (hence the DMCA part of their name). Essentially, they were designed to provide a kind of safe harbor for internet service providers (ISPs) when people were using their networks to share copyrighted information. A copyright holder can send an ISP a DMCA takedown notice informing them of the infringing activity being conducted through their network, the ISP disavows any knowledge of infringement but forwards the notice on to the actual infringer. If everyone is lucky, the infringer stops sharing the files, the ISP doesn’t get sued, the infringer doesn’t get sued, and the copyright holder can go about her business. It doesn’t always work as smoothly as that, however, and DMCA takedown notices given to non-American infringers almost always get tossed right into the trash.

What Gets Included In A DMCA Takedown Notice?

There’s been a lot of misconception lately about what you need to include in a written DMCA takedown notice and, particularly, how much these notices cost. You need the following items:
1. Signature of the copyright holder or her agent.
2. An identification of the copyrighted work or works that are being infringed.
3. An identification of the material that is infringing the work or the infringing activity you wish to stop.
4. Information that is sufficient enough to allow the ISP to locate the infringing material or activity.
5. The copyright holder’s (or her agent’s) contact information.
6. A statement explaining the copyright holder did not authorize the infringing material or activity.
7. A statement, under penalty of perjury, explaining the information in the DMCA takedown notice is accurate and the copyright holder (or her agent) is authorized to act to stop the infringement.
And that’s really all there is to it. Once the takedown notice is finished, all that’s left is to send it off to the service provider.

Can I Send A DMCA Takedown Notice Myself?

Of course. That’s part of the beauty of the DMCA, is allowing copyright holders and their agents the right to act without having to hire an attorney. Of course, improperly formatted DMCA takedown notices are almost always discarded immediately, so you want to make sure you draft one properly. And to that effect, you may want to consider hiring a copyright attorney. However, if you read the statute, 17 USC § 512, and feel you have a good grasp of what you need for a proper notice, then by all means, draft away.

Photo courtesy: gagilas


Eric Norton

Eric Norton

Business & Trademark Attorney at Norton Law Corporation
Eric Norton is a business and trademark attorney, and the founder of Norton Law Corporation, a modern law firm designed to help entrepreneurs with their legal needs. Eric also enjoys photography, gaming (tabletop and video), watches, and good design.
Eric Norton

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  1. Heidi A.
    Heidi A. says:

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