Updated: Dec 31, 2019
Let’s talk DMCA. Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998
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?
Before I go any further, I suggest you use Blasty for all illegal websites. They are set up for that, and it is well worth the money.
This post is for writing a DMCA letter to send to a legitimate website.
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.
Let me explain my situation.
I started this entire process because I had recently decided to move my books from wide to Amazon Kindle Unlimited. I'm not a lawyer. This information is readily available from the Copyright office. If you have specific questions about what you should do, you will need to contact a copyright lawyer. As did I before I moved forward.
Over a year ago I listed my books with Ingram Spark, and later closed that account. The books should’ve been delisted everywhere. Fast forward a year later, and a few sites still had the ones from Ingram Spark. Just an oversight. Ingram Spark is a great place to list your books.
My books were also listed via Draft2Digital. I requested all my books be delisted with D2D in the middle of February. I delisted with Kobo and Google play the first of March, those were removed immediately. However, there was one place that Kobo pushed the books out that still had the links listed. They were unavailable for purchase, but the links were still there. When you clicked on them, it directed you back to the Kobo store where they were no longer available. I reached out to Kobo and asked them for help in removing the links. (I was afraid Amazon might see them and think they were still for sale...I now have correspondence that shows the books are delisted. Another reason I did that.)
Over the last few weeks, I have been waiting patiently for all my books to be removed from sale. It often takes up to two weeks for books to be delisted. Sometimes it will take longer for the cached pages to be removed but the books are not for sale.
While I waited, sending several emails and feeling helpless, I learned about the DMCA. The way the letter is structured informs the offending sites that they are in direct violation of listing the copyrighted material, without permission.
However, in this instance, the two websites in question hadn’t stolen the work, they had just neglected to remove the books for sale from their website. I believe it was an oversight. But after repeated emails to the websites in question and there being some confusion surrounding who listed what, when, and where, via the aggregates, I felt as if I had no alternative but to send a DMCA. (I must note, that D2D and Ingram Spark were extremely helpful. But at the end of the day, there is only so much they can do. You will have to approach the retailers directly if you want the process to keep moving forward.)
Some websites will just disregard these notices. Some may come back and say they disagree, and then you have to prove ownership. These websites in question were very reputable sites. They were not stealing my work. I honestly believe that it was a mistake. Unfortunately the books were still for sell. I needed the ‘language’ of the DMCA letter to stress that they NO LONGER had the authority to list the books. Even though they weren’t stealing it, I had taken away the authority via the aggregates. (One of the websites even responded with an email that stated it should've been removed over a year ago, and they were extremely sorry it had not. Shit happens people, you have to keep calm and approach things with a cool head.)
I used paragraph 1 of the letter below to explain the situation. I kept my tone very friendly and thanked them for their assistance.
I must say, all of the sites were super nice, and they responded immediately once they received that letter. (All my subject lines said, DMCA violation please read) They were very quick to remedy the situation. They were very polite and in all the instances they said they will remove the cached pages and the links immediately as well.
I didn’t need to take a daft tone. I just needed to make them aware of the situation. I stress, watch your tone in any correspondence with LEGITIMATE websites. You don’t want to make this process harder than it has to be. You also don't want to use this unless you have no other option. You don't want to accuse a reputable site of stealing your works, especially when that was not the case.
Here is the letter I used:
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, I followed this with a detailed explanation of why I was using this and I tailored the letter to fit the situation. Explaining the problems and the solution that I wanted. Again I stressed to the sites that I understood there was no theft or misuse...but the books were still being OFFERED FOR SALE when the permission to do so had been terminated.)
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 at the following URLs:
LIST YOUR SITES.
3. The infringing material is located at the following URLs.
LIST THEIR SITE LINKS
4. My contact information is: (You must list this. I stated here that I am the author and the publisher.)
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.
(WARNING: THIS IN NOT INTENDED TO CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE AND USERS OF THE DMCA TAKEDOWN REQUEST REMAIN ENTIRELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN COPYRIGHT CLAIMS.)
Again, I stress that I used this to get them to remove material that I had revoked access to. None of the sites stole my books. I stressed that in the letters that I sent them. I made sure not to sound accusatory.
My books were pushed out through an aggregate. The aggregates will help you…but it seems there is only so much they can do once they request the material be delisted. Most often I think the request for removal pushes through quickly. But at the end of the day, three to four weeks is a long enough time. I wrestled with doing this too. I did not want to use the purpose for which the DMCA was created incorrectly. I asked a lawyer if I was within my right to send the letter.
I hope this helps anyone facing this issue.
I write crime fiction horror, thriller, and paranormal novels. My time in the Coast Guard and my degree in Forensic Chemistry helps me create fantastic stories. If I'm not writing, I am binge watching Netflix and probably drinking whiskey.