Regular readers will have seen my post a few days ago about website copy being stolen. Several comments were made including one from Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today. I emailed Jonathan and asked him some questions about his suggestion and he has very kindly given back some answers so I’m placing them here for your information. Thanks heaps Jonathan!
Tell us about DMCA notices Jonathan – I must admit Iâ€™ve never heard of them. Are they country specific or global?
Your question is actually a bit more broad that you probably realize. The DMCA is a complicated law and it requires a bit of background.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed in 1998. It included many provisions but the one of interest here is the Safe Harbor Provision. Before the DMCA, Web hosts were working in a legal gray area, uncertain if they could be held liable for infringement perpetrated by their users. If Yahoo or Google had to answer for every infringement someone hosting a site with them, even they would be put out of business.
The DMCA provided these hosts with “Safe Harbor” meaning that they were not liable if they met certain standards. The important one being that they would “expeditiously” remove works that were infringing once they were properly notified of the issue. However, to ensure that the notices were not used improperly, the law set up guidelines on the format of the notice and how it should be delivered.
You can read the required elements on my site here: http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2005/09/29/how-to-write-an-effective-dmca-notice/ The explanation is much more thorough there than I could ever do in this email.
The DMCA further requires that the notice be sent to a designated agent, chosen by the host. To find the designated agent, either look on the host’s site itself or on the Copyright Office Web site here:
Generally, these notices can be emailed and, if you’re looking for a good template, there’s an excellent one in Word format here: http://www.learnaboutlaw.com/learnaboutDMCA.htm
If you find your work is being stolen and you track down the host, you can use a site like domaintools.com to help with that, and find it to be American, a DMCA notice is almost always the best approach. Nearly every host obeys the DMCA because it is reasonable and it offers them a great deal of protection.
Hi Jonathan, thanks very much for this, but one more question. Does this apply to the US only or does this relate to web hosts in every country? A large number of my visitors are from Australia and the US but I do get a number from other countries too.
Once again, not a straightforward question. But this one is a bit easier.
The DMCA itself applies only to the United States. However, it’s important to note that it applies to hosts within the US, not people. Anyone, anywhere in the world, can use the DMCA on an American host. I’ve seen Australian people use an American law to stop a Chinese infringement because it was hosted somewhere in the US.
That being said, many other countries have instituted DMCA-like laws. The EU has, as has Australia, New Zealand (I believe) and Canada. All of the laws say the same thing more or less. However, the requirements for filing a notice, in all cases, are much lower. For example, the EU requires none of the formalities in the US, you don’t even have to be the copyright holder to file a notice.
What this means is that, in any country that has a DMCA-like law, a US DMCA notice will work. You can always have more, but you can’t have less. Just be sure to remove any mention of the DMCA by name when sending such a notice to a foreign country.
That should about cover that issue. I’m trying to think if there is anything else and seem to be coming up blank at the moment. Once again, if you or any of your readers have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask away, I’ll gladly do what I can.
So, there you have it, more information that should help you protect what’s yours! KMT