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Finding out that your copyright content has been stolen and used online can be overwhelming. There’s real damage that could be done, both to brands with stolen copyright content and to consumers who fall victim to counterfeiting and impersonation scams.
Brand and copyright owners need to know how to report a copyright infringement to ensure they can enforce their IP ownership and protect their brand.
Copyrights exist to protect the ownership of unique works, such as photographs, manuscripts, and web copy. They also restrict unauthorized copies of the work.
A copyright infringement occurs when someone makes a reproduction of a copyright protected work without consent from the creator.
Copyright infringement is against the law, but it doesn’t stop it from happening en masse, especially online. In many cases, committing a copyright violation is as easy as copying and pasting content and re-uploading it online.
There are various ways scammers and other online users infringe on copyright online. Whether the infringer’s intent was malicious or unintentional, having unauthorized copies of a protected work up online can ruin it’s value and defraud the owner.
The most common examples of copyright infringement to watch out for include:
Original photographs are protected under copyright law but are some of the easiest forms of content to replicate. Stolen pictures and graphics are uploaded by thousands of users on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
Brand owners should keep their eyes out for infringements of their photos, as they can be used in scam ads and spoof websites.
There are large and small-scale forms of text infringement, from uploading entire manuscripts, to stealing copy from a website or social media account. Any content you write and post online can be copied and infringed upon online, which is especially dangerous in scam cases. Scammers can copy text from existing brand’s websites to create spoof websites and impersonation accounts that defraud consumers.
Scammers upload music and movies and make them available for free on illegal sites. This is a huge problem for the music and movie industries, who lose millions in revenue every year due to illegal streaming. Scammer’s don’t just target big names, either– even independent creators who upload their music or films online can have their content stolen.
When copyright infringements occur on such a large scale online, some question whether it’s worth trying to stop. In the case of content creators and business owners who rely on their unique work, it is essential to remove any copyright infringements that occur.
Copyright infringements can have a devastating impact on content owners, including:
For many original creations, like works of art, originality and scarcity increases the value of the creation. If there are suddenly multiple copies of a piece of art that is supposed to be one-of-a-kind, it may diminish its value.
Scammers typically infringe on intellectual property for two main reasons: to impersonate the brand in order to defraud consumers, or to sell counterfeit goods. In either case, their efforts divert customers away from the original brand and bring them to their site. Any sales they make is revenue stolen directly from the brand or creator who made the original content being infringed upon.
Consumers can be easily fooled by a scam ad, counterfeit product, or other scheme copyright infringements are used for online. Because scammers typically use infringements to impersonate brands they’re stealing from, the original brand is often blamed. Having these infringements on the market can quickly damage your reputation as brand or creator and make your loyal customers lose faith in you.
Not everything is protected by copyright law, and it’s important for brand owners and content creators to know what won’t be enforceable.
Content that isn’t covered by copyright laws include:
To be protected under copyright, a creation has to be tangible– it must exist in a consumable way. For this reason, ideas are not protected by copyright.
A photograph, for example, is copyright protected, but not the concept for the photo, like its location or subject. The same goes for a novel– the actual manuscript is protected, but the plot is an idea that is legal for anyone to use and make their own.
Slogans, brand names, and other brand identifiers cannot be protected under copyright law. This doesn’t mean they can’t be protected, however. Brand owners can register a business trademark for this content to ensure they can enforce their ownership.
Copyrighted content is typically protected for a creator’s entire life, plus an additional 70 years. If the content was published before this, then it falls into public domain. Content within the public domain can be replicated by anyone, free of consequence.
Along with this content that isn’t protected by copyright, sometimes even protected content can be replicated, so long as it falls under fair use.
Fair use law “promotes the freedom of expression” and permits the unlicensed replication of copyrighted content, if certain criteria are met (Copyright.gov).
To qualify as being fair use, a creator typically has to be providing commentary on the protected content or transforming it within a new creation. A common example of this is when a content creator uses a clip of a movie or video while reviewing it online.
How can you tell if someone is infringing on your content, or if it falls within fair use?
In general, if someone is making money off of it, it’s likely an infringement. If you see this occurring, it’s vital you report the copyright violation and work to get it taken down.
If you identify a copyright infringement, work quickly to get it removed. The longer it remains online, the more the risk increases of defrauding your customers, stealing your revenue, and devaluing your content.
To report and take down a copyright infringement, follow these steps:
Having evidence of the specific copyright infringement will be important as you go forward with getting it removed. This proof should include screenshots, links to the infringement, and any other information you can collect– the more the better.
During this time, you should also find any official registrations you have for your content, as this will make it easier to prove your ownership.
Once you have gathered the proper evidence, you can contact the infringer. A DMCA takedown will serve as a notice to the offender that they have committed an infringement. It will also notify them that legal action will be taken if the content is not removed.
File a DMCA takedown and send the official notice to the offender, with a deadline to remove the content.
Finally, you will want to report the infringement to as many authorities as applicable. Most marketplaces and social media platforms have their own reporting tools you can use to do this.
You can also report copyright infringements to web hosts, search domains like Google, and federal and local authorities. This expansive approach will increase your chances of getting the infringement removed.
Reporting a copyright infringement to the appropriate authorities will ensure it is dealt with in a timely manner. You don’t need to report it on every single platform around, so where should you focus your energy when trying to take down an infringement?
First, you should report the infringement to your local government authority. You can report the infringement to the U.S. government here, and many local municipalities will have their own reporting systems. Keep in mind that this reporting will serve more as a record rather than work to take down the infringement.
If you find the infringement on a personal website, you can report it to the web host. In some cases, there may be a form to fill out, or you may simply have to send them a copy of the DMCA takedown.
If you found the infringement on an Ecommerce marketplace or social media platform, report it directly to the platform. Sites like Amazon, Shopify, Facebook, and Instagram all have systems to easily report copyright infringements.
Search engines are a good place to report copyright infringement, especially if you are having troubles getting it removed. Even if you can’t get the scammer, or the website host, to take down the infringing content, you can still ensure consumers can’t find it. Reporting a copyright infringement to Google can help de-index it from the platform, meaning it won’t show up in searches.
Each platform or marketplace has its own form and process to report a copyright infringement. Use the following links to find the right form for the platform where you have identified infringement.
Facebook’s copyright reporting form is fairly simple and should only take you a few minutes to fill out. You will be given multiple choices that you can choose to fit your specific information, as seen below.
You’ll then be asked for additional contact information, links to your own content, and links to the content you are reporting. Finally, you will have to sign a declaration statement and submit your report.
Once you’ve submitted your report, it can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks to be approved.
It can be tricky to determine whether or not a breach of copyright has occurred on Instagram, where re-uploads of viral content is popular. Before reporting, you can use their reporting guide, which will ensure you don’t waste your time reporting permitted content.
Since Facebook owns Instagram, the process for reporting copyright infringements on the two platforms are nearly identical. You will have to use Instagram’s copyright reporting form, which is the same as Facebook’s form. Again, getting your report approved can happen quickly, within a few days, but can also take up to two weeks.
To report a copyright infringement on Shopify, you will have to login to your store account. You will not be able to access the form before you have done this.
You will be asked for your contact and business information, as well as links to the store and content infringing on your intellectual property. Wait time can vary once you’ve submitted your report, but it typically takes about a week for the infringing content to be removed.
The Amazon report infringement form is fairly similar to the others on the list. Navigate there and scroll down until you see the boxes to begin filling in with your information.
Along with your contact info, you will also have to provide the brand name and information of the infringer, as well as product details. You then have a choice of providing a “written description of the copyrighted work,” or simply a link to the work. Providing the link is probably your best chance of having your approval go quickly.
Typically, Amazon works a bit faster than other platforms to take down infringements. You should expect to here back within 1-3 days after sending in your report.
By the time a customer reports that they have been defrauded by a counterfeit item, damage has already been done. Taking a proactive approach to brand protection is the best way to stop infringements before they spiral out on control and damage your business.
Brand owners can enhance their brand protection and proactively prevent these attacks by monitoring for copyright infringements online. Monitoring social media, Ecommerce marketplace, and personal websites is essential to identify and report copyright infringement as fast as possible.
Keeping a close monitor on every possible channel for infringement, which is simply too big a task to be accomplished by most brands alone. Luckily, an automated infringement monitoring software like Red Points can help. This investment offers a scalable brand protection solution that proactively identifies and reports breach of copyright online before they can damage your brand.
Copyright infringements steal your revenue and tarnish your brand reputation, no matter which platforms they are occurring on. It’s essential to know how to report copyright infringements as quickly as possible to protect your property, customers, and business.
Manually reporting copyright infringements simply isn’t scalable for brands who are already losing revenue to scammers online. Red Points can help automate the process of copyright detection and removal to streamline this process. Learn more about how Red Points can protect your brand.