DMCA takedown notice... What do I do now?
June 7, 2010 10:00 PM   Subscribe

My webhost just got a DMCA takedown notice for my site. One catch, my site wasn't hosting or in anyway linking to the alleged content. What now? Please help.

(I know that none of you are "my" lawyer)
So, I received an email from my host that my site was being suspended due to a DMCA notice. My host forwarded the notice along to me and it mentions that my site is being used to host or distribute malicious software using their copyrighted materials.

My site did not host any software at all. My site did not link to any software downloads. Obviously this copyright holder saw my site and thought that I may be hosting something like this so they sent the DMCA.

I'm very shaken up and frightened as I do not wish to be sued by this company. What should I do? What should I not do?
I have already contacted my host telling them that:
1) I wasn't hosting what they claim I was
2) I don't want my site to ever be put back online, keep it disabled.
3) I do not wish to file a counter notification.

I do not want to be sued. I couldn't care less about my website being disabled, it is not worth fighting a lawsuit over. I am in the USA.If I just keep the site offline will I be okay?

As far as I know this was just a take down notice to my host, they cooperated and removed my site so there is no more alleged infringement for them to go after, correct?

To those of you who will undoubtedly tell me to lawyer up: I really do hope that will be unnecessary. I also have no money and I just feel like copyright attorneys don't give free consultations.... Maybe I could contact the EFF?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, and if you are really worried you should contact a lawyer. That said, having seen this type of thing happen before to innocent people:
1) I would consider submitting the DMCA notice to the Chilling Effects Clearing House
2) If the EFF will talk to you, I'd certainly talk to them. This sort of "obvious abuse of DMCA" case is the sort of case that is usually not too hard to deal with.
3) In your position I would file a counter notification. If you are sure you are innocent, you are unlikely to be sued. If you file a counter notification, keep it as short as possible and just include the facts.
4) Honestly if you are innocent you need to calm down, take a deep breath, and relax. DMCA claims are filed all of the time against websites that are not hosting any infringing material. There is a reason the counter notification procedure exists. You should not feel like you need to pull your website just because something on your site tripped an automated program.
posted by An algorithmic dog at 10:24 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

A DMCA notice is a blunt instrument of the troll. Anyone can send one to anyone's host without a shred of proof; alone it means nothing. If your website really had nothing to do with what was alleged in the complaint then just sigh and shrug it off. I mean, sure, contact a lawyer if you want some kind of reassurance, but really they aren't going to be able to tell you much more than that.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:25 PM on June 7, 2010

You should be fine under the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act.

I am not a lawyer, but I am on record with the federal government as the person to contact for any DMCA takedown notices with one of the sites I run and have read up a bit on it. Other MeFites may correct/clarify, I just want to get in here now to say - relax, you're ok.

Also, if you hosted a blog, forum, or any other scripted site, it's possible spammers got into it. It's also possible hackers did post files to your site that you weren't aware of. It's also possible some over-zealous nut just likes filing papers (take a listen to the recent This American Life about kidnapping - an over-zealous nut who like filing papers can do a lot of damage).
posted by MesoFilter at 10:27 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would specifically consult DMCA FAQ
posted by An algorithmic dog at 10:27 PM on June 7, 2010

I got one once (years ago) for having something seeding in Bittorrent. I stopped seeding it and never heard about it again. On the off chance a DMCA notice was sent by the actual copyright holder for material you are not hosting, rather than a third-party lawyer-troll, not hosting it should give you good-faith compliance if anything ever did come down the pike.
posted by rhizome at 11:33 PM on June 7, 2010

During the last seven years I've worked for one of the largest webhosts in the US. 99.9% of the time you'll be fine. If the copyright holder was interested in coming after you directly they would have done that without going through the host.

There is a relatively good chance that you use my company as a web host. Please feel free to MeMail me for more information.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:41 AM on June 8, 2010

Seconding Chilling Effects and filing a counter-notification -- you can do this yourself and although IANAL, doing this shouldn't automatically lead to you being sued, as the takedown is more about your webhost covering their ass. It also wouldn't hurt to contact EFF, but they will likely refer you back to Chilling Effects, so do read through their DMCA FAQ linked above.
posted by KatlaDragon at 1:40 AM on June 8, 2010

Definitely talk to a lawyer. Sue for a false DMCA claim
posted by delmoi at 3:15 AM on June 8, 2010

Or I was going to say you can so for a false DMCA claim. If you don't care that much, you obviously you don't have to do it, just file a counter notice. OTOH, if someone is running around filing false claims for whatever reason, actually suffering some consequences might get them to think more carefully.
posted by delmoi at 3:17 AM on June 8, 2010

I do not wish to file a counter notification.

Well, that's silly. The counter notification is not counter-suing or whatever you seem to be terrified it is; it's a letter simply stating your position on the matter in a particular order.

A DMCA isn't the end of the world. It doesn't mean, or even indicate, a lawsuit is following.

It's entirely possible this notice was sent to you in error.

The person issuing the DMCA had to, if filing properly, identify all of the specific pages where this infringing content supposedly lived or was referenced. If you're anon and can't provide a copy of the notice as it was sent, though, the amount of help people can provide is limited.

If they didn't do that, you state the notice was improperly filed and additionally issued in error and request that your materials be reinstated immediately.

But filing a DMCA is not suing, nor is it a pre-cursor to suing. Swathes of these things are filed every day; in fact, it's the Internet's system to give people recourse WITHOUT suing.

You do NOT need a lawyer, whether you're rolling belly-up the instant an errant DMCA notice hits your Inbox (bad, over-reacting) or you choose to file a completely routine counter notice (good, appropriate).
posted by DarlingBri at 4:04 AM on June 8, 2010 [7 favorites]

Some bittorrent trackers release false results to confuse the DMCA process, and perhaps you are the victim of that. See a paper discussed in this NYT blog. Search for "printer dmca takedown" on google etc to see other blog discussions.
posted by about_time at 4:41 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is, as said above, EXACTLY why the Counter-Notice system exists. They claim you were infringing, you say you weren't...IANAL, nor AIYL, but a simple counter-notice is the appropriate response here.
posted by griffey at 5:14 AM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I got a DMCA notice for a 4-year old blog post about some random Tool remix that I linked to on another site I wasn't hosting. Blogger forwarded me the notice and deleted the post automatically. The file itself was still active and probably still is right now. They are scary to receive, but DMCA notices are pretty much the beginning and end of the threat as long as the material or non-material is removed. If they were claiming your entire site was used for distribution, you could and should file a counter claim.
posted by yeti at 7:21 AM on June 8, 2010

There have been instances in the past where a copyright holder runs a bot that finds, say "a semiotic deconstruction of lady gaga's paparazzi.txt" and "my adorable cat meowing.mp3" both in the same directory, misconstrues that as paparazzi.mp3, and sends you a takedown notice.

It's also conceivable that your website has been hacked by people distributing warez, who buried a directory of ill-gotten goods deep, deep, deep inside one of your existing directories where you'd be unlikely to notice it.
posted by adamrice at 7:21 AM on June 8, 2010

My husband gets these occasionally for computers on his network. IF it's accurate, he goes to the user and tells them to stop whatever they're doing (or disables their account until they remove it), and otherwise ignores the notices. They have not contacted him again once the problem is gone.
posted by galadriel at 9:02 AM on June 8, 2010

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