Every now and then, a client will call me, alarmed, because they have discovered a website that contains content that is eerily familiar. Rather than get spooked, we can unmask the bad guys and make sure they stop their tricks. There are a few options available to copyright and trademark holders who spot infringing works. The first step is usually to send a letter asking that the infringer cease and desist the infringement, and demand payment. If the letter is ignored or refused, Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) gives you another option.

The DMCA states that an Internet Service Provider (“ISP”) must remove materials from users’ websites that appear to constitute copyright infringement after it receives proper notice. Unlike other copyright infringement remedies, your copyright does not have to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office for you to take advantage of this DMCA provision. Prior to sending the DMCA letter (commonly referred to as a “takedown notice”), of course you must find the ISP that is hosting the website that contains your content.

The law requires several formalities to be included in the takedown notice, including identification of the copyrighted work that you claim has been infringed (or a list of infringements from the same site); contact information of the intellectual property holder; and statements that the notice is made in good faith, and is accurate. Please contact the office if you’d like us to draft a takedown notice, cease and desist letter or other demand letter on your behalf. Happy Halloween!

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon