Updated: June 10, 2023
Let’s talk DMCA. Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998
With the advancement of AI and more pirate sites hitting the internet, it often feels like an uphill battle to protect our works. And although that statement may strike fear in a new author, please take note...try not to worry. Your books will end up on pirate sites. There is nothing you can do about most of them. Especially when located overseas. The readers using these sites will never buy from you. Its frustrating and annoying, but in the end it will not destroy your writing career.
Does that mean you should let it slide? No. Just don't let this take over your life.
What is a DCMA letter?
Essentially it's a letter you send to an infringing website, and they should (hopefully) remove your material or the offending material. But how do you write the letter and what should be included in the letter, and when can you use the letter?
Why would you need to do this? Several reasons. They are selling your work without your permission, or you revoked your permission and they have not taken down the work in question.
There are some inherent problems with this process, however, I still suggest when a site is using your books without your permission or selling your books without your permission you send this notice.
Just make sure, they are actually infringing on your copyright. A DMCA should not be sent frivolously. If you use an aggregate, like D2D, to get your books on sales platform, be aware that D2D does send your book to several sales outlets that you may not be familiar with. So do your due diligence before you send out this notice.
Also be prepared for some websites to completely disregard these notices. Some may come back and say they disagree, and then you have to prove ownership. This is where having your work copyrighted through the US Copyright office is a great thing. That certificate can save you a lot of hassle.
I recently had my two of my books being used on Soundcloud. Not the audio version. What someone had done was use my cover, my blurb, my name and was directing people to their pirate site to download my illegally posted book. How do I know it was illegally posted? They had a PDF version of two of my books. I do not list a PDF version of my book anywhere.
What did I do? In this instance, I contacted the legal team from Soundcloud. I could've just sent a DMCA notice, but they have an internal process. It is tantamount to sending the notice, just not as in-depth.
However, if their process wasn't as streamlined I would have sent a letter. Below I have a DMCA letter and what should be included. You can find examples of DMCA letters on the web.
Takedown Notice Pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998
To Whom It May Concern,
This is a notice in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) requesting that you immediately cease to provide access to copyrighted material. I wish to report an instance of Copyright Infringement, whereby the infringing material appears on a website for which you are the host. (This first part is standard, follow it with a detailed explanation of why you are using this and tailor the letter to fit your situation. Explain the problems and the solution you are seeking.)
1. The infringing material, which I contend belongs to me, is the following:
LIST YOUR BOOKS WITH THEIR ISBN
2. The original material is located on my website and at the following URLs:
LIST YOUR SITES and SALES SITES IF THAT FITS YOUR SITUATION
3. The infringing material is located at the following URLs.
LIST THEIR SITE LINKS
4. My contact information is: (You must list this. State here that you are the author and publisher. You should list your real name and your pen name.)
5. I have a good faith belief that the use of the described material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or by operation of the law.
6. The information in this notice is accurate, and I am either the copyright owner or I am authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.
I declare under the perjury laws of the United States of America that this notification is true and correct.
I suggest taking a picture of your signature, of both your name and pen name with the date, and include that if you can upload any other documents. This is what Soundcloud wanted from me.
(WARNING: THIS IN NOT INTENDED TO CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE AND USERS OF THE DMCA TAKEDOWN REQUEST REMAIN ENTIRELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN COPYRIGHT CLAIMS.)
I encourage you to not worry about pirating sites. They are a dime a dozen. There is a business called Pirat.io. They will do a free search of your name and books and then tell you how big of a problem you have when it comes to your work being stolen. I did this and the representative told me he didn't think it warranted using their services yet. I just didn't have a lot of my work on pirate sites. Give them a try and see if you need a service like this.