DMCA Takedown Abuse: How to Protect Yourself

Copyright infringement is rampant online. This can be SO frustrating if you’re a content creator! πŸ’» That’s why the DMCA takedown process is a thing. πŸ‘Œ Unfortunately, this has led to a few instances of DMCA takedown abuse.

Why does this matter for you, a content creator? Well, a DMCA request to take down plagiarized content is not that uncommon in the public domain. But sometimes, someone makes a mistake ❌ and requests a bad takedown from someone who either holds the copyright or has proper permission. And once content removal occurs, there’s a mandatory waiting period of ten business days before restoration, even if you are the copyright owner!

If you are new to DMCA procedures and need to know more, keep reading! 🧐 This article contains a breakdown of what DMCA takedown request is and how to handle one, both as the copyright owner and as a recipient. It will also advise you on how to prevent DMCA takedown abuse from happening to you.

How Is a DMCA Takedown Notice Supposed to Work?

First things first: what the heck is a DMCA takedown notice? A DMCA takedown request is a provision of copyright law. It is used when a content creator has published any sort of work that is not their own and belongs to another, whether the infringers were aware of the copyright or not.

Let’s say copyright owners find their work online where it shouldn’t be. The original content owner (or the online service provider of the platform that the content is published on) can send a DMCA takedown notice to the content creator. This is a form of legal complaint that requests that the person or site remove the duplicated content that is under copyright protection. πŸ’ͺ

What then? The recipients can either follow the notice or submit counter-claims to the requests for removal. But by refusing, the recipients open themselves up to potential legal actionβš–οΈ. They could end up facing a copyright infringement lawsuit!

The DMCA Takedown Timeline

The main issue with a DMCA takedown notice? Time. Content creators hit with a DMCA takedown notice need to take action quickly πŸƒ, whether the takedown claim is valid or not. They have to take down the so-called breaching material first and file a counter-notice afterward. 

The content must remain removed, be it legitimate content or not. There is also a mandatory waiting period of 10-14 days before any sort of restoration can happen. But why do these takedown notices happen in the first place?

Why Does DMCA Takedown Abuse Happen?

DMCA takedown abuse often results in the temporary content removal of authentic content. This method has even been used by companies to slow down their competition and by stakeholders to censor journalists! But in most cases, DMCA abuse can happen for a number of other reasons. Let’s explore the top three here.

DMCA Takedown Abuse Due to Human or Automated Error

In some cases, it can just be a matter of error. For instance, big corporations, like media companies and universal music labels, generally use automated systems to check for breached content that infringes on intellectual property rights and send DMCA takedown notices. This causes accidental takedowns πŸ‘Ž that affect authentic content.

DMCA Takedown Abuse Due to Misuse of the Fair-Use Doctrine

There is also the exploitation of the fair-use doctrine 🀝. Fair-use doctrine allows using content for educational or informational purposes, but it’s not a carte blanche. This is commonly a grey area, and even when stated in court πŸ‘¨β€βš–οΈ, judges tend to make a decision by looking at each case individually.

These doctrines are commonly misused from two sides. The original copyright owner chooses to ignore the idea when considering possible breaches. Meanwhile, authors tend to overstep the boundaries of fair use doctrine. 

DMCA Takedown Abuse Due to Perjury

DMCA takedown abuse also stems from no consequences for perjury. In a simple explanation, a copyright owner needs to provide a statement under penalty of perjury in their notices claiming that everything in their statement is valid πŸ‘. The problem is that false notices happen. In other words, some people are liars. 

What to Do If You Receive a False DMCA Takedown Notice

When you receive a DMCA takedown notice, false or not, your internet service provider generally takes down your content immediately. If you are confident that there has been a mistake or the claim is false, you need to send your counter-claim. You’ll send this to both the legitimate copyright holder and your ISP. It does two things: 1) prove that you put up legitimate content and 2) request that they restore your content.

What if someone knowingly falsely claims in a DMCA takedown notice that you are publishing breached content? In that case, it’s time to lawyer up. You could win damages in court.βš–οΈHow to Avoid DMCA Takedown Abuse as a Content Creator

To avoid this sort of abuse toward your content, you need to go beyond the security the Copyright Act πŸ“– gives. Take the following steps to cover all your bases: 

  • Register your content with the U.S. Copyright Office. You’ll then receive certification and a record of ownership. This allows you to file lawsuits against any infringers.
  • Add a copyright notice to your website to inform people that your content is copyrighted. This step can deter potential infringers.
  • Send your own DMCA takedown notice as a copyright complaint if someone steals your content. It’s not just a tool for large corporations!

Keeping Your Content Safe

DMCA takedown abuse is a common occurrence. That’s why it’s important for content creators to be aware of what it is and how to protect ourselvesπŸ’ͺ from it! After all, you work hard, and you want to protect your business from potential scammers. 

These notices can happen for a number of reasons, and then it’s best to be prepared for them. If you are a victim of an actual infringement or a DMCA takedown abuse, you may want to speak πŸ—£ with a social media attorney for legal advice as well as legal protection πŸ‘¨β€βš–οΈ.

If you have received a takedown notice or intend to file one, an attorney can provide the best assistance. Contact us today πŸ“ž, or use our DMCA takedown template to DIY your paperwork the right way.