Reputation Rhino has helped companies all over the world protect and defend their copyright interests and intellectual property, including photos, videos, logos, and website content from copyright infringement.
Copyright law is complex, but can be a very effective tool for quickly and permanently removing damaging content from the Internet and protecting creative work from misuse and exploitation by others.
What Is Copyright?
Copyright is a form of intellectual property law that provides legal protection for original works, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.
The written content on our website that you are reading right now is protected by copyright.
A patent protects ideas, inventions and discoveries and must usually be registered with a government to be effective.
A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs, such as a logo or a business name, and must usually be registered with a government to be effective.
If someone is using your copyright-protected content without authorization, there are several options available, including filing a civil lawsuit in state or federal court. Copyright infringement in the United States may result in statutory damages of up to $150,000 per work infringed and, sometimes, criminal penalties.
If the content is being used online without permission, you can consider filing a takedown notification pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and/or work with an online reputation management company to remove the infringing content.
What Is Fair Use?
Fair Use is a legal doctrine that permits the use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances without the permission of the copyright owner. It evolved from a public interest to protect freedom of expression from suppression. Criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research are all examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.
The determination over whether a particular use of copyright-protected content falls under the fair use doctrine will require a consideration of several factors, including:
1. Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
2. Nature of the copyrighted work
3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
4. Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work
Transformative uses that substantially change the character of the work, like a “Weird Al” Yankovic song parody, would likely be permitted as fair use.
A blog post that includes a screenshot from Game of Thrones as part of a review of the television show is also likely to be considered fair use. A teacher who uses a photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. when teaching a civil rights class is also permissible under fair use.
Ultimately, the specific facts and circumstances of the use of the copyright-protected content will be determinative.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) was originally enacted to protect interactive computer service providers (websites, hosts, etc.) from liability for third-party content on their platform.
Historically, newspapers, radio and television stations and other media companies were responsible for any content it hosted or published or broadcast.
But in the early days of the Internet, there was a need to shield new and emerging companies from liability in order to help these companies take risks and innovate in what was (at the time) a new and largely unregulated space.
Social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; content-sharing platforms like YouTube ; and search engines like Google would never be able to exist in a world where they were responsible for policing the content of its millions and eventually billions of users.
If a service provider “passively displays content that is created entirely by third parties,” Section 230 immunity will apply; but if the service provider helps to develop the problematic content, it may be subject to liability.
How to use a DMCA Takedown to Remove Content from a Website
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) provides a safe harbor from copyright infringement liability for online service providers that allow users to post or store material on their systems, and search engines, directories, and other information location tools. The online service provider must designate an agent to receive notifications of claimed copyright infringement. The notification is commonly referred to as a “takedown” request.
For takedown notices to be legally effective, they must be provided to a service provider’s designated agent in writing and include substantially the following:
1. A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
2. Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site.
3. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.
4. Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an e-mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted.
5. A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
6. A statement that the information in the DCMA takedown notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
Upon receipt of a compliant DMCA takedown notice, the service provider must respond in a timely manner to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of the infringing activity. If the service provider fails to do so, it may lose its safe harbor protection and be subject to a copyright infringement lawsuit.
How to Remove Copyright Content from Google
Google has a special webform designed to report instances of copyright infringement appearing on its platforms like YouTube, Blogger/Blogspot, Google Images or a Google Ad.
If you are trying to remove a video on YouTube (also owned by Google), there is some helpful copyright information available here.
If you are trying to remove content from any other website and also have that content deindexed or removed from Google’s search results, you should consult with an experienced online reputation management company.
Reputation Rhino has helped thousands of people remove or suppress negative search results and remove copyright content from Google and other search engines.
We have a talented team of online reputation management experts that will help you protect and defend your copyright interests. Contact us today!