DEALING WITH ONLINE COPYRIGHTS INFRINGEMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH DMCA

Copyright infringement is a very common phenomenon on the internet. The most common and most frequent copyright violations happening over the internet according to copyright infringement statistics is 'content duplication'. This is followed by infringement involving reselling of digital products. I will be discussing how you can deal with these types of copyright infringement cases. The article is a bit technical, but I have tried to keep it as simple as possible by adopting a step by step training module.

Please note that each step has a 'read more' link which will give you more information about the processes involved in a single step. The entire process has been divided into two major sections as follows:

1.) Finding out details about the person infringing your copyrights, Hosting Company, Payment Processors etc.

2.) Reporting copyright infringement to Authorities like Search engines, Hosting companies, Payment Processors, ISP and other internet crime reporting organizations

So let's get started….

Step 1: Finding and Noting Down Contact Details of the Infringing Website

a) Check and note contact details listed on the infringing website
b) Check and note contact details of the site as listed on whois server using http://www.whois.sc. The following details are to be noted:
  • Registrant Name:
  • Address 1:
  • Address 2:
  • Country:
  • Phone Numbers:
  • Time Zone:
  • Registrant Email Address:
  • Domain Booked on:
  • Domain Expires on:
  • Name Server 1:
  • Name Server 2:
  • IP Address:
c) Find out if the website is using any kind of redirects and note down the URLs if any redirection is found. (You can check redirects using http://www.webconfs.com/redirect-check.php). If yes, find the whois information of the redirected domain and note similar details as above.

Important Things to Note:
  • The contact details on the site and the contact details on the whois information should match. If not, do some further research using the details to find out the actual company
  • Present both addresses on the DMCA report as 'Contact Address Listing on Website' and 'Contact Address on Whois '
  • Incase of private whois address, contact the organization offering the privacy service (generally the registrant) with a DMCA letter
  • Try to get more information about the people or company operating the website by checking the backlinks, copyright information, privacy policies or anything that can give you a cue forward
Step 2: Finding the Company that Hosts the Infringer's Website

Check the who-is information of the IP Address (as found in step 1) and note down the following

a) Organization Name
b) Name Server 1 and 2
c) Address with Email and Phone Nos.
d) Website URL

Important Things to Note:
  • Try to find out information about the Parent Hosting Company and not the Reseller Hosting Company. Most websites are hosted on reseller accounts. The Parent Hosting Company is generally found by finding out whois information of the IP address listed in Whois of the infringing website. The reseller account on the other hand can be found by checking the whois of the infringing website's name servers

    -> Make sure that in all cases you send a DMCA to the parent hosting company can if possible to the reseller hosting provider as well

    -> In most cases the reseller account is owned by the offender himself. So sending a mail to the reseller hosting provider is of little or no use.
  • If the URL of the hosting company is not listed in the whois data, you can make a search for the organization name in google to find out the name
  • If the hosting provider has a live chat facility, use the facility to get to know the best way to reach the abuse department
  • After sending an email to the abuse department, make sure to take a note of the 'support ticket' number
  • If possible, try and call up the abuse department directly along with sending them an email
Step 3: Finding the ISP Service Provider of the Infringer and his Place of Operation

a) Send an email to the infringer asking for some sale related or website related question
b) Check the email headers of the reply mail to locate the IP address of the sender
c) Do a Whois check of the IP to find the ISP information
d) Note down contact details of the ISP. This is also the place of operation of the Infringer

Important Things to Note:
  • The only way to find out ISP information is to find the IP address of the person operating the infringing website. The IP address can be located by tricking the offender into sending an email to you
  • Make sure that you use a free email account (yahoo, gmail etc.) to contact the offender
  • Trick the offender into sending you an email by requesting information about his products/services or by asking some query regarding his website
  • Keep contacting the offender using different email addresses with different queries unless he responds
  • Space your emails properly and vary the topic and writing styles so that he does not suspect
  • Do not waste much time, if you are not able to get the ISP information. The web hosting provider is the most important person to contact in these cases

Step 4: Finding Contact Details of Payment Gateways (if Any. Applicable in case of product infringement)

Find out which payment gateway/processors the site is using and note down the contact details found on their website. You can do this using the following steps:
  • Locate a product on the infringing website and try to make a purchase. This will take you to the payment gateway payment interface giving you information about the company offering the service
  • Do a search in Google with the website name and after making doubly sure that you are dealing with the right company, proceed to do a whois search

Note: The following steps are optional, but can prove very useful, especially incase of digital product infringement.

Step 5: Collecting Information on Internet Visibility of the Infringing Website

a) Find Page Rank of Website
b) Find Alexa Rank of Website (current, weekly and monthly)
c) Number of Cached pages in Google, Yahoo and MSN (Find cached pages using the command, site:http://www.sitename.com)
d) Backlinks of the website in Yahoo! (Check backlinks of the website using the command, link:http://www.sitename.com)
e) Site Existence (find out site existence using http://www.archive.org)

Step 6: Finding Info on what Promotion Techniques the Site is Using

a) Inorganic Promotion: Find a list of related keywords and check sponsored ads of google, yahoo and MSN to see if the Site Ad appears for those keyword queries. Note down all engines that display ads of the advertiser b) Organic Promotion: Find out if the infringing site is ranking in top 50 positions for any of the related keywords

What to do with this information?
This information will help you find out about the level of business you have lost to this person. This will also give you information about the ways the infringer's website is getting traffic. You can use this information to decide how exact to proceed further.
  • If the infringing website is using search engine PPC networks to drive traffic, you should be sending DMCA letters to these departments urging them to stop offering advertising to the infringer
  • If the infringer is getting traffic organically, you should be released DMCA to the search engines urging them to remove the website of the infringer from their Index

Step 7: Finding Monetization Techniques Used by the Infringing Site

a) Check the Infringing site and find out if it is displaying PPC or other forms of Advertising
b) Locate and Note the source of the Ads (Ad source can be found by right clicking on the Ads and checking the Ad properties)
c) Find and note client ID associated with these ads

What to do with this information?
You can mail the Ad companies and urge them to suspend the infringer's ad account. This will certainly be a blow to the infringer.

Click here to download a document where you can note down all these details

Part II: The Below can be treated as part 2 of the website which involves taking Action Against the Infringing Website

The below discusses how you can take action against the infringing website with the help of the information you collected in the previous step.

Step 8: Taking Action against the Infringing Site

a) Send a Cease and Desist email asking the infringing website to shut their operations within 24 hours
b) Send DMCA notifications to the following
  • Google, Yahoo! and MSN (fax as well as email the notification)
  • Hosting Company (asking them to suspend the hosting account immediately)
  • ISP (asking to discontinue services)
  • Payment Processors (if any)
  • Advertising Networks used by the Infringer (if any)
c) Send mails to third party advertisers (if any) asking them to suspend the infringer's Ad account

Important Things to Note for Sending Cease and Desist email:
  • Send out proper Cease and Desist Email Depending on the nature of infringement
  • Do not send more than one email and start the DMCA proceedings if no response is received within 24 hours of email sent
  • Send Cease and Desist emails to all email addresses present on the website and whois information. Also send the mail through contact forms if any, present on the offender's website
  • Do not bother if the offender does not respond to your queries. In most cases they don't. You can carry on with DMCA proceedings and ensure that the offending website is suspending from hosting
Important Things to Note for Sending DMCA notification:
  • If you are Faxing the DMCA Document, Fax it over a Company Letter Head. Note down the date of fax send and keep delivery reports in file for future reference
  • If you are sending the DMCA through Email, make sure to send a copy to abuse@sitename and support@sitename.com
  • Make sure that you have checked the documents thoroughly before you fax or email it
  • Fax can be sent to Google.com and the hosting companies. Yahoo! and MSN prefer receiving the DMCA via email
  • Some Hosting companies and Payment Gateways have different formats for DMCA. So make sure to check if there are any specifications mentioned on the site
  • The DMCA report should contain direct links to online original copyrights wherever available
  • Keep following up with the DMCA mail on a daily basis, but do not send more than one mail a day. Follow up mails need to be simple and precise with a clear tone
  • If any of the parties contacted responds to your DMCA queries and takes necessary action, use that mail to convince others to follow suite.
Useful Resources:

Cease and Desist Email Formats

Sample Cease and Desist Email Format for Content Infringement

SUB: Legal Cease and Desist Notice Against infringingsitename.com From: Your Name, Legal Department, Company Name and Address

This is the legal department of (Company Name). We have come to identify that your website infringingsitename.com is illegally duplicating and reproducing copyrighted content from our site sitename.com.

Stop duplicating our content and remove all infringing pages immediately. If you do not abide to this in the next 24 hours of this mail receipt, we will have to carry out legal proceedings against you. We will also release DMCA complaints as per Section 512 with all major search engines, hosting provider and you Ad partners, Chitika Ads. So your site will be banned permanently from the SE database and dropped from hosting.

All content and images on oursitename.com is copyrighted by US laws and any kind of duplication or reproduction is illegal.

We want you to stop this infringement immediately or else get ready to be sued for damages.

For, sitename.com

Your Name,
Legal Team,
(Company Name)

Sample C&D Format for Product Infringement:

This is the legal department of (Company Name). We have come to identify that your website infringingsitename.com is illegally selling our icons as a part of a resale package the online location for which is

infringingsitename.com/url1
infringingsitename.com/ulr2
Other urls that display the product

We want you to discontinue this product and remove all our icons and icons of other sites immediately. If you do not abide by this in the next 24 hours of this mail receipt we will have to carry out legal proceedings against you. We will also release DMCA complaints with all major search engines, hosting provider and payment gateway Paypal. So your site will be banned permanently from the SE database and dropped from hosting. You will also be reported to all online crime control centers including the powerful internationally functional ic3.gov.

All our products are copyrighted by US laws and selling them illegally is a crime. Check here to see our scanned copyrights:

http://www.sitename.com/copyrights (if any)

We want you to stop this product within 24 hours or-else get ready to be sued for damages.

For, Sitename.com,

Your Name,
Legal Team,
(Company Name)

Sample DMCA Formats: Please click here to download sample DMCA formats


Name and Addresses of Search Engines to Send DMCA

For Google Inc:

Google, Inc.
Attn: User Support, DMCA Complaints
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
Send via fax to: (650) 618-2649

For Microsoft Corporation:

The Microsoft Network, LLC; MSNBC Interactive News, LLC; MSBET, LLC; LinkExchange, Inc.; WebTV Networks, Inc.

c/o J.K. Weston
One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052
PH: (425) 703-5529
Email: jkweston@microsoft.com
FX: (425) 936-7329
Send via: Email

For Yahoo! Inc:

Daniel Dougherty
c/o Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089

Email: copyright@yahoo-inc.com
FX: (408) 349-7821
Sent via: Mail


Email Address Tracing Service: https://www.abika.com/forms/Verifyemailaddress.asp


Sites that allow you to report fraud online:

1.) http://www1.ifccfbi.gov/index.asp
2.) http://www.fraud.org/
3.) http://www.treas.gov/usss/net_intrusion_forms.shtml (Cyber Threat/Network incident report)
4.) http://www.naag.org/issues/20010724-cc_list_bg.php (Computer crime point of contact list. Need PDF reader)


Find ISD codes to all locations on the earth: http://www.countrycallingcodes.com


Segregate countries based on Timezones: http://www.schaffter.com/cpu/tz.html



Glossary of Important Terms

Infringement: An unauthorized use of material (like digital products/website content etc.) protected by copyright, patent or trademark law. For instance, if A reproduces the copyrighted content present on B's website, without his permission, A is violating B's Copyrights. So B can sue A for infringement of his content.

DMCA: Digital Millennium Copyright Act is an Act Passed in 1998, to bring copyright law up to date with digital/online media

ISP: Internet service provider or ISP is a company offering internet connection services. Every ISP assigns a static or dynamic IP address to the customer using which the customer's place of operation can be tracked

Dynamic IP Address: An IP address which keeps changed. For instance, a dynamic ISP IP address is an IP which keeps changing every time a customer logs on to the internet

Static IP Address: A static IP address is an IP Address which remains static and does not change. For instance, a static ISP IP address is an IP does not change irrespective of how many times the customer logs on the internet. In this case, the IP is permanently assigned to the customer.

Hosting: Also known as web hosting or website hosting is a business that offers sever space for websites to host/save their files so they are accessible online 24 hours.

Domain Name: Domain name is an unique name that identifies a website over the internet. Every domain name is associated with an IP address

IP Address: An IP address is a set of numeric digits separated by dots, given to servers and users that connect to the internet.

ICANN: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the non-profit corporation that was formed to assume responsibility for the IP address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions

Domain Registrar: A "Registrar" (or "Domain Name Registrar") is an organization like Network Solutions that has control over the granting of domains

PPC Ads: PPC stands for Pay per click ads. In these types of ads the advertiser pays the publisher some amount of money for every click his site receives

Sponsored Listings: Sponsored Listings are listings that have been paid for. In the SERPs, sponsored listings are generally listed on the right hand side of the regular search results

Organic Listing: Organic listings are the regular search engine results that are displayed by the search engine for user queries. The position of these listings is decided by the search engines.

Inorganic Listing: Inorgainc listings are sponsored listings that are displayed by the search engines in a listing order depending on the price paid by the advertiser for the ad.

SERP: SERPs are Search Engine Results Pages which refers to the resulting listings that are shown when a keyword is searched upon.

Cease and Desist: Cease-and-desist is a legal term meaning essentially stop: It is used in demands for a person or organization to permanently stop doing something (to cease and desist from doing it).

Online Payment Gateways: A combination of software and hardware that provides an interface to process payments online

BackLinks: All the links pointing at a particular web page. Also called inbound links.

Website Traffic: The number of visitors that a website receives. Calculated on a daily or monthly basis

Page Rank: Devised by Google, it measures not only how many links point to a website, but the "quality" of the sites providing the links

Alexa Rank: Alexa is a ranking methodology which ranks websites based on the traffic they receive from the alexa community. A community consists of members using the alexa toolbar in their browser

Google Adsense: AdSense is an advertising program run by Google. Website owners can enroll in this program to enable text and image advertisements on their sites. These ads are administered by Google and generate revenue on a per-click basis. Google utilizes its search technology to serve ads based on website content, the user's geographical location, and other factors.

Google Adwords: A Pay Per Click (PPC) program of advertising on Google. The ads appear on the right hand side of the Google Search page on keywords / key phrases that you choose.

Plagiarism: The false presentation of someone else's writing as one's own. In the case of copyrighted work, plagiarism is illegal. Also referred as content duplication, wherein a website copies and displays content from another website.

Copyrights: A copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted by government to protect the particular form, way or manner in which an idea or information is expressed.

Reseller Hosting: Reseller hosting is a form of web hosting wherein the account owner may split up their allotted hard drive space and bandwidth and resell web hosting space offered by the Primary or Main Hosting Provider. The reseller does not own hosting servers, but uses servers offered by the Primary/Main Hosting Company

Archive.Org: A service which records and keeps an archive of all visible websites on the internet

Domain Registrant: A registrant is the person or company who registers a domain name. For example, Joe Smith (registrant) registers the name joesmith.com through 1stDomain.net (registrar) who in turn submits the name to the central database (Registry).

Name Servers: Nameservers (or Domain Name Servers) are the machines that perform the DNS function by providing the mapping of domain names to IP addresses.

Whois: WHOIS databases contain nameserver, registrar, and in some cases, full contact information about a domain name.

Private Whois: A private whois information does not allow the contact details of a website to be publicly viewable. To view such an Whois information, the registrar has to be contacted with valid reasons.

URL Redirection: URL redirection is a technique on the world wide web for making a web page/site automatically redirect to another webpage/site with or without the surfer's knowledge

Email Redirection: Email redirection is a technique in which email sent to an address is automatically routed to another email address