Copyright Considerations for Web Hosts - Steps a Copyright Holder Should Take
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So what should a copyright holder do if they discover that another web site has stolen his or her content? There are three steps that they may need to take. Web hosts should know about these steps because they may find themselves involved in the second one.
First, a copyright holder should contact the webmaster of the web site. You should be able to find contact information on the site itself; the site's WHOIS entry is another potential source. When you contact the webmaster, explain the problem politely but firmly. Tell them where their content came from, and give them a deadline; if they don't take it down by a certain time (I've seen some advocate giving an infringer two weeks), state that you will take further action. It's been our experience at Developer Shed that this kind of letter does get action, and the site takes down the offending content. When it doesn't, it's time for step two.
The next step is one that you as a web host may have already experienced. Since you have probably stated in your Terms of Service that you do not allow illegal content, and stolen content is not legal, it only makes sense that a copyright holder would appeal to you to take it down if he or she has not received satisfaction from one of your customers. There are six specific elements that must be included in a "notification of claimed infringement" under the DMCA:
- A signature (physical or electronic) of someone authorized to act for the party that has allegedly been infringed.
- Identification of the copyrighted work that has allegedly been infringed.
- Identification of the material that is alleged to be infringing, and information that will let the web host locate the material (after all, a web host can't take down material if it's impossible to locate).
- Contact information for the party making the complaint (an address, phone number, and/or email address).
- A statement from the person making the complaint that they have "a good faith belief that use of the material complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law."
- A statement that the information in the letter is accurate, "and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed."
The third step a copyright holder can take, if the first two don't achieve the goal, is to take the case to a lawyer. I'm stopping short here, because my focus in this article is more on web hosts rather than copyright holders. So let me tell you the other steps you as a web host need to take under the DMCA.
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