It took you days to perfect the copy on your homepage…
Weeks to write that in-depth blog post…
Months to ideate your newest unique service…
And then you discover that some stranger on the internet has swiped all of it – all of your work, sweat, and tears – taking the credit along with them.
They stole your ideas without hesitation. And now you’re looking at a case of copyright infringement.
That’s no joke, by the way. It’s 100% illegal. 👩⚖️
When someone copies your content, that threatens your reputation, your business, and, by extension, your very livelihood.
So, how do you fight back?
Don’t stand idly by. Take action, because copiers need to face consequences for their infringement. ⚖
With that in mind, let’s learn not just how to report copyright infringement, but also how to identify it, how to take down a website that violates copyright laws, and how to protect your ideas and work in the future.
What Is Copyright Infringement?
Copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is copied, distributed, publicly displayed, or performed without the permission of the owner of that work.
“Copyrighted work” can refer to anything that qualifies as intellectual property (any unique creation of the mind put down in tangible form):
- Website content and copy
- Brand names, logos, and taglines
- Unique concepts and inventions
- Literary and artistic works
By the way, you don’t have to physically file for a copyright for your work to be protected under copyright. From the moment of its creation, your work automatically falls under copyright protection. However, that protection is limited.
Here’s how Copyright.gov puts it:
To extend protection over your work, and if you want the ability to file a lawsuit if your copyright is infringed, you should register a copyright (more on how to do that later).
How to Report Copyright Infringement: 5 Steps for Action
Before You React: Get Screenshots and Evidence of the Infringement
Seeing your content copied on the web can be an unnerving and emotional experience. That’s YOUR hard work, after all. The copier has no idea what kind of effort went on behind the scenes to create it – they just took it with no remorse (how do they sleep at night?!). 🤯
Before you react by instantly DMing them and demanding they take it all down, stop and take a breath. Peppering them with angry messages may only result in the copier fiddling with the evidence that they copied.
That’s why you should screenshot the evidence, first, and then take steps to report the copier. This evidence will help you later as you file reports (such as a DMCA takedown) with various entities that can take larger action.
Now we can move on to the steps to take down a website (or user) that has stolen your work.
Growing your business and protecting your content assets go hand-in-hand. Learn how to grow in my free training.
1. Report Copyright Infringement to the Platform/Network
If the copier is posting stolen content on a platform like LinkedIn, Facebook, or the like, you have the option to report that person directly to the platform.
For example, LinkedIn has a form for reporting a copyright infringement.
Note: Most platforms recommend that you contact the copier directly first to try to resolve the copyright violation. In some cases, a person may be infringing on your copyright unknowingly or unintentionally, so it might work to politely alert them of the issue.
However, always take screenshot evidence of the infringement before sending a message in case the person is maliciously copying and trying to cover their tracks.
2. Report Infringement to the Website Host
If someone has copied your content and reproduced it on their website, you can contact the host to alert them and get that website taken down.
Since web hosts are required to comply with the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to stay in operation, they take incidences of copyright violation very seriously.
The DMCA has a specific section that outlines the right of copyright owners to have infringing content removed without the need to go to court. Web hosts must comply with this, and in exchange, they are shielded from monetary responsibility.
That means web hosts have a vested interest in removing copied content and taking down infringing websites (called a “DMCA takedown”).
To find the web host of the site committing copyright infringement, use the ICANN Lookup Tool. Usually, the web host is the same as the registrar for the website.
For example, the registrar and host of this website is GoDaddy. The ICANN tool provides their contact details for reporting abuse inside the “Registrar Information” box.
3. Report Copyright Infringement to the FBI
Remember: Violating copyright is illegal, which means you have the option of reporting the crime to the correct authorities.
That said, you will NOT be calling the police. Copyright infringement is classified as a civil issue, which means law enforcement doesn’t handle it; the courts do.
However, unless you have the grounds for a lawsuit, you should report the crime to the FBI – specifically, the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center).
While they may not take any action other than officially recording the incident, it’s still a good idea to alert them in case your incident is linked to any other illegal activity.
The IC3 complaint form is extremely thorough, so be prepared to share detailed information about the incident and the person/entity who infringed on your copyright.
4. Report Copyright Infringement to Google
To make sure a website infringing on your content won’t show up in Google searches, you should report them to Google.
Google has the power to remove that site from indexing so it won’t show up in their search results. You can report copyright infringement to Google using this form.
5. File a DMCA Takedown Request
Technically, every request for a copyright violator to take down the copied work qualifies as a DMCA takedown notice.
The existence of the DMCA legislation is what gives you the right to request that copied work be removed from a website or platform. This is true whether you:
- Send a direct request to the copier informally in a DM
- Send a formal request to the web host, the platform, Google, or the IC3
That’s why it’s called a “DMCA takedown” – you’re calling upon existing law to get copied content taken down.
Yep, that means all of the methods we’ve talked about to take down a site or report copyright infringement fall under this category.
So, if you want to file a DMCA claim for content removal, just use any of the above steps (#1-4).
How to Copyright Your Website, Work, or Content
Want to take the next step to ensure you have an extra layer of protection over your best, most unique work?
Consider registering a copyright for digital content at Copyright.gov. It’s relatively inexpensive (around $100) and gives the world notice that your work is protected under the law. It’s also necessary if you ever need to file a copyright infringement lawsuit.
Remember, your content is automatically protected under copyright the moment you create it. Registering a copyright with the U.S. government is just the official way to add an extra layer of protection to the content that matters most.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Down a Website for Copyright Infringement
Don’t ever think you need to just “rise above it” if/when you encounter someone stealing your content.
Copying someone else’s content is illegal. Period. And you shouldn’t let that person or entity get away with it.
Instead, stay calm, collect evidence, and methodically work through every step on this list to ensure copyright infringers aren’t allowed to continue stealing others’ hard work.
Your content, concepts, and ideas are YOURS, and you deserve to keep them that way.
Finally, if you’re interested in protecting your valuable content assets, you’re probably also interested in growing your business.
I can help with that, too! 🙋♀️
In my free training, you’ll learn how to:
- Grow your business with content strategy OR
- Hire and train an incredible content writer and delegate content creation
Just choose your level for instant access. See you inside! 👋