So have you ever posted a video on YouTube or your cool one of a kind item on Etsy, and allll of a sudden….you get an email from Legal stating that some unknown person asked that your video or item be removed due to Copyright violations? If yes, say thank you to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.


Apparently, a lot of folks have to deal with the DMCA at some point in their techy lives. Either you are using it as a tool to safeguard your copyrights from other folks trying to copy your hard work (like that cool t-shirt design you sell on Etsy or that amazing video you posted on YouTube of your cat doing backflips) ORRR (thank you douchey folks that roam the earth) you are using it to play a little dirty with the competition (some folks, without ever being the actual owner of the cited copyright, use the DMCA to take down items that they are competiing against to give them a marketplace advantage). Meaning, the “owner” cites a non-existent copyright in an email to Legal and because the DMCA dictates that websites (say YouTube or Etsy) must take the owner’s word of mouth to stay compliant with the DMCA, Legal MUST remove the item until the truth is made known….however long that may take.


So what happens when you get this wonderdul DMCA Take Down Notice? Well, depending on who sent it to you, you have several wonderful procesures to follow in order to make things happen (you can typically find the DMCA procedures for that particular website in their Terms of Use or Privacy Policy or even in Legal’s email to you). These are some general guidelines if you receive a Take Down Notice:


1. Read the email carefully. Typically, Legal will tell you why they have removed your item, and they may include the name of this party pooper unknown copyright owner and cite the copyright registration they are using against you.


2. Figure out if this is a bogus notice. Legal has to only follow procedure to keep the DMCA happy, so do some leg work. Go on the U.S. Copyright Office website and search their copyright database for any sign of the copyright registration. You may search by copyright owner name, copyright registration number, and even the title of the copyright item!


3.  If you find that the item that they removed from your YouTube account or Etsy store (or anywhere else in cyberland) is in fact owned by somebody else- and you know this somebody else is NOT you, then stand down.  If you keep trying to re-post it, you may be liable for some hefty copyright violations!


4. If you search your heart out and you find that there is no merit to this Take Down Notice, then gear up for what may be a lengthy back and forth between you, Legal, and alleged copyright owner. In fact, Legal will likely tell you to settle it on your own because they really don’t have to do much there. Therefore, gear up with evidence that proves the copyright notice was fake and send it over to them.  You will also need to attach some other key items in your response- so pay close attention to that Legal email or the DMCA procedures listed on their website to make sure you don’t forget anything! Also, careful what you submit to anyone as a response- it may bite you in the butt down the line if things get heated.


5. Be patient. Wait for a reply from Legal (and possibly the copyright owner), and see what your options become at this point. Depending on the facts, you may have your video or items re-posted by the website OR you may need to provide some more information.


Parting words: Don’t panic if you get a Take Down Notice. Read the notice carefully, follow procedures, and maybe invest in a little assistance on the matter.


Note: The D.M.C.A. does a lot of things, the Take Down Notice portion is one of many items covered by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.