Content theft on the Internet is not new and very common.
Absolutely everything can be copied without your consent: text, video, photos, illustrations, and audio.
This is not only unpleasant (because you invested your time, knowledge, and effort in creating the content), but it can have serious consequences.
For example, an unscrupulous competitor can beat you in Google search results, and the search engine can consider you a plagiarist.
Luckily, today you can protect your copyrighted content with the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), the copyright law that Google provides.
Internet marketing agency Idea Digital Agency has already dealt with such cases many times in different clients’ niches.
Today we'll discuss how copyright protection works in the digital world, as well as look at a real-life example of the procedure for getting out from the filter when you've been wrongly complained about.
What is a DMCA complaint?
Let's take a closer look at the Google DMCA.
It was established back in 1998 as part of U.S. copyright law in all areas of business.
How does a law that was first put into practice in the United States work all over the world? It's simple: Google needs every user to abide, no matter where they are located, though they are headquartered in California.
The way copyright law works in the digital age is that in order to use someone else's DMCA-protected content without problems, you need to get permission from the author or pay for its use. If these conditions are not met, your website will get a claim, and as a consequence, the search engine will restrict the display of some pages of the website or the entire project.
In some cases, using other people's content without permission will not be a DMCA violation.
A filter can be avoided if someone else's content is used:
for non-commercial purposes;
as educational materials.
But you will definitely get a DMCA complaint about such violations:
complete copying of other people's text content;
use of other people's photos, images, illustrations, videos protected by copyright.
How to complain about copyright infringement: a step-by-step guide
If you see that someone on the web has stolen your content, you can complain about it using this form:
Here's a little step-by-step guide on how to make a complaint to Google about copyright infringement.
Fill in the fields with contact information
Include your first and last name without errors, the name of the company you represent (if you file a complaint on behalf of an organization), an email address to contact you, and the country where you reside.
Important: Pay attention to the "Copyright Holder you represent" field — if you are defending your own rights, you should select "Sefl" in the drop-down list, and then check the box to confirm your ownership of the content.
If you represent an organization or an author, select "Add represented copyright holder" and fill in the field in the window that appears, indicating the author's name. Then click the "Add" and "Save" buttons - now you can select the author of the content in the drop-down list.
Specify your copyrighted work
Describe the subject matter of the dispute, provide the link to the original content of your authorship.
Provide links to content infringing your authorship
List the pages below that you think are infringing your copyright.
Signing sworn statements
In the end, read the stipulations and obligations, check the appropriate boxes. After that, put the date and signature (your name and surname) in the appropriate boxes.
Click "Submit" and the complaint to Google is sent successfully.
So what happens next?
The DMCA notice will be reviewed within two to four weeks.
The answer will be sent to your email, which you specified when filling out the complaint form.
You can monitor the status of your application in the Removal Dashboard.
How to know if your website is under complaint about copyright infringement
You may notice something is wrong when your website pages suddenly start disappearing from the search results - this is the reason to urgently look for the cause since such a case can depreciate your previous search engine optimization.
However, Google always notifies webmasters of DMCA complaints through the Google Search Console and via email. In addition to a list of deleted URLs and following text, you will also find a link to Lumen, where all the legal notices are added and all the information you need to help you file a countercomplaint.
You can check whether there is a complaint about your website content on https://www.lumendatabase.org/. The service will show you all the registered complaints related to your website.
As an example, we checked our website - no complaints were found.
How to get your website out of the pirate filter: a step-by-step guide
So, you already know how to complain to Google about the site. But what to do if someone complained about you?
Our experts have already had to deal with the removal of pages from the index for copyright infringement, so now we will show you what to do in this case, how to defend your case, and get the website out from the pirate filter.
The actions described below should be applied if the claims against you are wrong and you are sure that you are right. Stealing content is a bad idea!
Our small case is related to the Ukrainian website, but we also do SEO promotion of English-language sites and can say with confidence - the procedure for withdrawal from the Pirate filter is the same.
Finding the source of the problem
After receiving a message about the complaint, first of all, it is worth identifying the source of the problem.
To do this, simply follow the link in the letter from Google to the site lumendatabase.org and see who made the complaint, what the problem is, what pages have been nominated for removal from the index.
Our specialists encountered a claim from an official comic book publisher who decided to remove a number of pages with the products from search results, including a page from our client's website.
Sending a counter-notification
The client had the right to sell the product, which was given to him by the publisher in Ukraine.
In turn, the Ukrainian publisher had the right to sell from the official publisher in America. The U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act supports this option of using the content, so we decided to send a counter-notice to restore the unfairly deleted page to the search engine as soon as possible.
The link to the form to send the notification can be found in the letter from Google that notified you of the incident.
It is important to fill out the form competently and specify:
the name of the owner of the online store and his position;
the name and legal address of the store;
the official email and main phone number of the online store - the data of Google My Business is registered;
URL of the deleted page;
the reason why you do not agree with the removal (from the options provided, in our case the most appropriate answer was "I don't own the material, but I have permission to use it")
evidence, in our case, documents confirming the right to distribute the materials.
It is recommended to fill out the form in English - this will speed up the review procedure, but in our case, all the documents proving the legality of content use were in Russian, so we filled out the form in Russian, too.
Important: Send a counter-notification from the official email, which is listed in the contacts on your site.
The result of the above actions was the restoration of the deleted page on the former positions in the search engine results in 1.5 weeks.
As you can see, the DMCA pirate filter can be successfully challenged, but as long as you have the proper evidence to prove your case.