DMCA: the complete guide

By Steven, on October 27, 2022, updated on November 27, 2022 - 4 min read

On the web, copying is an act that is not tolerated. A website owner does not have the right to copy and publish content from another web platform. This is only tolerable if the respondent obtains the permission of the author of the copied content beforehand.

The DMCA exists to ensure copyright protection and to prevent the fraudulent copying of content on the web. Here is what you need to know about the DMCA.

  • DMCA means Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
  • DMCA is an American law that aims to protect creators of digital media content against plagiarism.
  • It is possible to file a complaint with the DMCA if you find that someone has stolen your content.
  • DMCA sanctions can be both criminal and civil.

What is the DMCA?

The DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It is an American law that applies to the copyright of digital media content. The DMCA helps the owner of stolen content to get the content removed efficiently and quickly.

This law affects not only website owners, but also Internet service providers. Companies that provide web hosting services are also affected. The DMCA also takes into account search engines like Google, etc.

The enforcement of a DMCA takedown notice is done at the location where the stolen content is physically hosted. As a result, a website owner living outside the United States can also complain to the DMCA. Indeed, if his web host is located in the country, he can resort to the DMCA for his stolen content.

However, for content located on a web host outside the United States, the treatment may be different. Web hosts outside the country are not legally required to comply with the DMCA. Nevertheless, many web hosts honor complaints from the DMCA.

It should be noted that it is not necessary for content to be protected by copyright in order for a DMCA claim to be made. The DMCA applies to text content, images, video content and music.

What does the term DMCA Protected mean?

Some websites in their footer include the term DMCA protected. This means that the website owner is using the services of the web platform.

Indeed, this web platform provides web site owners with copyright protection services. It therefore handles their takedown notification for them.

How to issue a DMCA takedown notice for copyright infringement

When someone steals your work, you can issue a notice to demand that the content you authored be removed. The process is divided into several steps.

  • First, contact the person suspected of having copied your content. Use their email or the contact form on their website to reach them.

As soon as they receive the email, some people systematically delete the copied content. On the other hand, others resist.

  • If the person does not answer you, you must find the company that provides web hosting services. To do this, look for the IP address of the website of the person who stole your work. There are several tools on the web that allow you to get the IP address of a website.
  • With the IP address and a WHOIS service, you can find the web host of the plagiarist. For this purpose, DMCA has a free WHOIS search service. This excellent tool provides you with network information.

It should be noted that the task can become difficult if the suspicious website is behind a proxy or CDN. In this case, it will show up as the owner of the IP address. Fortunately, some proxies have a built-in DMCA complaint form.

  • After finding the host of the person who committed the copyright infringement, you can file a DMCA complaint. Most hosts and other service providers have a complaint form.

If you can’t find one online, you’ll need to contact a DMCA agent. Otherwise, contact the Internet service provider or hosting service provider. This option is usually faster than going through a DMCA agent.

You can also hire professionals. They will handle the DMCA takedown notice for you.  

The opt-out notice request must include your personal information (name, address, phone number, etc.). It should also contain your electronic or physical signature and the location of the infringing content (URL or other).

Also include in the takedown notice request a sworn statement. It should state that the content is being used without the copyright owner’s permission. Finish with a statement that all information provided is accurate.

If your DMCA takedown notice request is successful, the infringing content will be systematically removed from all search engines. If unsuccessful, you can complain to Bing and Google directly.

Even if the content remains on the website of the author of the theft, it will no longer be found in the SERPs. Furthermore, it will never be able to rank.

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Processing a DMCA takedown notice

When a DMCA takedown notice is filed against you for copyright infringement, you need to know how to react. Your hosting service provider will not wait to check whether you have actually copied the content in question. He will systematically demand that you remove it or he will do it for you.

The hosting provider can even shut down your hosting. If he is in a place where he is legally obliged to comply with the law, his reaction will not be long in coming. That’s why it’s not wise to ignore a DMCA takedown notice.

If you feel that the notice you received is a mistake, you can file a DMCA counter-notice.

Be aware, however, that in the event that you are proven guilty, you’ll be subject to prosecution.

What are the sanctions for a copyright infringement ?

DMCA sanctions for copyright infringement can be both criminal and civil.

  • Criminal penalties may include imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.
  • Civil penalties may include damages and injunctions.

You can find more information on the U.S. Copyright Office’s website at