Do you know of a website or blog that has published your photographs without your permission? If so, you should become familiar with the The Digital Millennium Copyright Act – DMCA. The DMCA criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as Digital Rights Management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works and it also criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet.
Under the DMCA, you have to provide WRITTEN notice to any offending service provider. I strongly suggest you hire a licensed attorney if you want to learn more about the DMCA or if you want advice on whether or not you can take advantage of DMCA protections. But for those who are interested, I have attached below a sample letter that my attorneys drafted with an eye toward compliance with the notice provisions in the DMCA. I have successfully used this letter several times. I make no warranty or representation that it will help you, but it may be a good starting place for you. To be sure, contact an attorney.
Dear (SERVICE PROVIDER):
Please consider this notice of Copyright infringement.
I am the photographer and the Copyright Owner of the photograph picturing (I attach a jpg of the image on my site and a jpg of a screen cap showing the image on the infringer’s site), which as of (date) was posted on the Web site hosted at (URL). I did not give permission for this photograph to be posted on the Web page described. Pursuant to the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, 17 U.S.C. 512(c), please consider this letter actual written notice that this infringing material is being stored and/or resides on a system controlled by you.
The email address of the website operator, who has illegally reprinted my content is email@example.com.
I hereby request that you act expeditiously to remove or disable access to the photograph described.
As the Copyright holder who made this photograph, I have a good-faith belief that the use of the photograph at (URL) is not authorized by me or by any provision of the law. I also declare, under penalty of perjury, that I am the copyright owner and the information in this notification is accurate to the best of my knowledge.
My full contact information appears below. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Be sure to include your full contact info including name, mailing address, phone number, fax (if you have one), and e-mail address.
PLEASE NOTE: This post is not an endorsement of the DMCA – it’s merely a recognition that under the current law, this is one of many tools available to photographers to protect against infringement.