Useful Photography Tip #31: How to Do a DMCA Takedown Notice When Someone Steals Your Images/Content

One of the most common fears that I hear about when I teach classes on WordPress, Tumblr, Blogging or Metadata management is about how to prevent theft of your images or content.

Now first off, I don’t want to scare anyone with this post; and I often tell people that they should focus on trying to create media that people will want to steal instead of worrying about theft of their current portfolio. With that said, this site has been around for quite a while and we’re large enough that someone out there will try to steal our content. I sometimes let it go because the sites eventually get shut down, but when Reviews Editor Andy Hendriksen complained to me about it, I decided to take some action and throw down with a DMCA takedown.

What is a DMCA Takedown?

A DMCA takedown is similar to a cease-and-desist notice but it applies to the digital world. It is meant to help protect artists and companies from theft of their digital content.

Now don’t get me wrong: quoting a paragraph from this site and then linking over to us is totally fine. But taking an entire post from us without permission? That’s grounds for a lawsuit: especially since the site’s content is registered under a government copyright.

But going straight for a lawsuit sometimes is seriously just a dick move and it is highly recommended that you first try to approach the abuser and settle the matter.

How Do You Do it?

First off there are certain things that you need to have cited and done in your notice. Here’s a quick checklist and an example:

– Say that you’re emailing in good faith/concern

– Cite, link or even send a screenshot of the offending subject matter. This is necessary in case you need to legally proceed. Heck, I’d even go so far as to copy and save the HTML in a document.

– State that what they’ve done is considered theft and why it is.

– Make it very clear that you have the right to legally proceed.

– Ask about their plans on how they want to handle the matter.

Here’s an example of what I did:

To Whom it May Concern:

My name is Chris Gampat and I’m the Editor in Chief of The Phoblographer. I’m emailing you in good faith to inquire about content of ours that you have published on your website at this link:

Your publishing of the content is considered theft. If you had taken a paragraph from us in the form of a quote and then linked over, that would have been fine. But in its current state, this is unacceptable.

Please inform me of your plans to take down the infringed content as I have the right to proceed with this.

So What Happened?

You tell me:

Hi Chris,
I have taken the post down… and I will remember to give proper quotes in the future.. Thank you and please accept my  apology

In the end, it worked out well and we obviously won. If this didn’t work, we would’ve no doubt taken this much further. It would go to the server host. If that didn’t work, lawyers would need to get involved.

Additionally, it is all in your email. I’ve mastered the art after having studied the idea and tact of the pitch in Journalism school and then applying it to the real world. Plus, I email vendors every week pitching our site to them and asking to work with them on top of emailing ideas to editors I freelance for and pitching to my manager and higher ups at work.

With all that said, get used to rejection. But in a case like this, mentally prep yourself to possibly legally proceed.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.