Friday, August 17, 2012

DMCA Takedown Letter

So, in order to combat the piracy of my book (and I haven't even looked for The Grand Granger yet, so I'm keeping that singular at the moment), I have to start filing DMCA Takedown Notices/Letters.  This isn't too bad, all things considered, except that I now have to start doing regular searches for my book to see who and what's pirating it.  Needless to say, this isn't something I'm looking forward to doing, and so far today I've dedicated at least an hour to this crap when I should be writing -- which I was doing until this e-mail I'm about to share and discuss arrived.

There's a catch to filing DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright ACT) Takedown Notificiations.  To show this as graphically as possible,  I'm going to copy/paste an e-mail I just received from a company I contacted (2Shared, for those who are wondering).  I'm going to edit out e-mail addresses and suchlike and add emphasis at key points, but substantially this will be the exact e-mail I received.
 Please write us back arranging your complaint into the correct copyright
report sample set by DMCA and we'll react on this matter asap.

According to DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) the notification must:
1. Identify in sufficient detail the copyrighted work that you believe has been infringed upon (i.e., describe the work that you own).
2. Identify the in-world item that you claim is infringing on your copyright, and provide information reasonably sufficient to locate the item in-world.
3. Provide a reasonably sufficient method of contacting you; phone number and email address would be preferred.
4. Provide information, if possible, sufficient to permit us to notify the user(s) who posted the content that allegedly contains infringing material. You may also provide screenshots or other materials that are helpful to identify the works in question. (This is for identification only, not to 'prove' substantive claims.)
5. Include the following statement: 'I have good faith belief that the use of the copyrighted materials described above and contained on the service is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or by protection of law.'
6. Include the following statement: 'I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.'

The DMCA provides that you may be liable for damages (including costs and attorneys fees) if you falsely claim that an in-world item is infringing your copyrights. We recommend contacting an attorney if you are unsure whether an in-world object is protected by copyright laws.
I'm going to focus on point 2 first.  What qualifies as in-world?  I believe websites do, but I'm not 100% sure.

Also, "liable for damages"?  So, basically, if they feel my registered copyright isn't sufficient to protect my rights to control distribution of my work they can sue me?  Also, they recommend contacting an attorney so I can verify that my registered copyright is sufficient to protect my work from their unauthorized distribution?  I can't afford either.  It's bad enough I have to take screenshots and send them to a company that isn't even registered with the US Copyright office like it should be.

So where does this put me?  Unfortunately, it puts me in the "I'll just have to wait and see if sales continue apace or if they start to slump again" category.  If sales drop again like they did in January I'll have no choice but to talk to a lawyer and possibly alienate my readers much like over the whole Napster/P2P crap.  I don't have the money, I don't have the income, and I don't have the time if I want to continue focusing on my writing instead of being distracted by all this.

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