Take Action Against Online Copyrights Infringement Using DMCA (Complete Tutorial)

Has someone copied your digital content?

Don't fret.

Copyright infringement is very common on the internet. The reason? For one, it is easy to copy digital content and in many cases, people think it is easy to get away with it too. But they are wrong.

Thanks to the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act, October 12, 1998) which all online service providers have to comply with; you can easily report a copyright offender and shut down their website for good.

The main forms of copyright infringement on the internet include the following:

  • Copied text content.
  • Copied images.
  • Copied digital goods. (software, graphics, ebooks, PDFs, digital books etc.)
  • Copied music.
  • Copied video.

In this article, I will be discussing how to deal with these types of copyright infringement issues by identifying the offender, sending cease and desist emails and finally by sending DMCA notices to services that the offender is using to run his website.

The following is a rough outline of what you will need to do:

  • Finding out details about the person infringing your copyrights.
  • Sending Cease and Desist Email to the offender.
  • Reporting copyright infringement to authorities like Search engines, Hosting companies, Payment Processors and Domain Registrar of the offender if he does not respond to the Cease and Desist email.

This article is split into two parts as follows:

  • Part 1: Sending Cease and Desist Email to the Offender.
  • Part 2: Sending DMCA notices to proper authorities.

Before getting started, here's the outline of this article for easy reading:

Part 1: Sending Cease and Desist Email to the Offender

Your first step is to send a Cease and Desist email to the offender asking them to discontinue infringing upon your copyrights. You can wait for a day or two for them to respond. If they do not respond within that time frame, you can start sending DMCA notices to concerned authorities.

a.) Identifying the Offender's Contact Details

Start by identifying the offender's email address so you can send them a cease and desist email. You can follow these steps to find their email address:

  • Visit their website and see if you can find any contact information. If there is an email address, note that down. If there is a contact form instead, note down the URL of the contact form.
  • If you don't find any contact information on their site, check out their website's WHOIS information. The best way to check WHOIS information is through the official ICANN site which is: https://whois.icann.org/

Note down the email address you find under the Registrant Contact.

In-case the Domain Name is Using Privacy Protection: More often than not, the domain in question would be using privacy protection. If that is the case, read the information provided by the organization offering the privacy protection to get the email to contact. Some privacy organizations like DomainsbyProxy.com offer an alternative/cloaked email address where as some others like PrivacyProtect.org will want you to visit their website to contact the registrant. (refer image below)

Domain registrant contact

Note: If you for any reason you want to see the actual WHOIS registration details (this includes real name, address and phone number of the registrant.) you can contact the abuse department of the company offering the privacy service and they should be able to help you out after reviewing your claim. Links to contact the abuse department for popular privacy services are as follows:

DomainsbyProxy: Visit DomainsbyProxy.com and click on 'File a Claim' link.
PrivacyProtect.org: Visit http://www.privacyprotect.org/ and fill the form that says 'Report Abuse'.

b.) Sample C&D Email Formats

The following are some sample C&D email formats that you can use to contact the offender:

Sample Cease and Desist Email Format for Content Infringement

Subject Line: Legal Cease and Desist Notice Against infringing sitename.com

From: Your Name, Legal Department, Company Name and Address

This is the legal department of (Company Name). We have come to identify that your website sitename.com is illegally duplicating and reproducing copyrighted content from our site sitename.com.

Stop duplicating our content and remove all infringing pages immediately. If you do not abide to this in the next 24 hours of this mail receipt, we will have to carry out legal proceedings against you. We will also release DMCA complaints as per Section 512 with all major search engines, your hosting provider, Ad networks and domain registrar. So your site will be banned permanently from the SE database and dropped from hosting.

All content and images on our site, sitename.com is copyrighted by US laws and any kind of duplication or reproduction is illegal.

We want you to stop this infringement immediately or else get ready to be sued for damages.

For, sitename.com

Your Name,
Legal Team,
(Company Name)

Sample C&D Format for Product Infringement

This is the legal department of (Company Name). We have come to identify that your website sitename.com is illegally selling our digital product as a part of a resale package the online location for which is

Other urls that display the product

We want you to discontinue this product and remove all our products immediately. If you do not abide by this in the next 24 hours of this mail receipt we will have to carry out legal proceedings against you. We will also release DMCA complaints with all major search engines, hosting provider and your payment gateway (Paypal). So your site will be banned permanently from the SE database and dropped from hosting. You will also be reported to all online crime control centers including the powerful internationally functional ic3.gov.

All our products are copyrighted by US laws and selling them illegally is a crime.

We want you to stop this product within 24 hours or-else get ready to be sued for damages.

For, Sitename.com,

Your Name,
Legal Team,
(Company Name)

Part 2: Sending DMCA Notices

If the offender does not respond within the stipulated time frame (24 to 48 hours) of sending the cease and desist email, you can start sending out DMCA notices. Depending on the type of copyright violation, DMCA can be sent to the following authorities:

  • Hosting Company (This includes third party hosting like Download.com, ebay.com etc. ).
  • Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo (asking them to remove the offending website's from their index).
  • Ad Networks (Adwords, Yahoo/Bing Ads, Chitika Ads, Amazon etc.) asking them to stop displaying ads of the offending website.
  • Payment Processors (Paypal, 2checkout etc.) Asking them to suspend their services so the offending website cannot accept payments.

a.) Sending DMCA to the Hosting Company

Start by identifying the offender's hosting company. As long as the site is not hiding behind a CDN (Content Delivery Network) like CloudFlare, you should be able to find the hosting company using any of the following tools:

Make sure to search using all these three tools and check the results for consistency. Once you find the hosting company, visit their website and find their DMCA contact page. Different hosting companies many have different formats in which you would be required to send the DMCA. So make sure to read their policies. A simple way to reach their DMCA page is to do a Google search with the website URL and the word DMCA as explained in the example below:

Example: Let's say, you want to reach the DCMA contact page for the hosting company, hostgator.com. Go to Google.com and perform a search for Hostgator.com +DMCA.

The first result for this search leads me to the DMCA page of Hostgator.com which is http://www.hostgator.com/dmca (refer image below). As you will notice, this page has good documentation and a contact form wherein you can conventionally send the report.

Hostgator DMCA page

If the site is using CloudFlare, you should be able to see CloudFlare as the hosting company.

In this case, it is impossible to find the actual hosting company of the offender. Thankfully Cloudflare and other similar companies offer a contact form through which you can contact the hosting company of the offender. In many cases, CloudFlare will also reveal details of the hosting company if need be. Vist this URL for more details: https://www.cloudflare.com/abuse/.

Note: If the site is using a free service like Blogger/Blogspot, WordPress, Weebly, Tumblr etc. then the domain name of such sites will be a sub-domain to the main parent site. Here are a few examples:


If this is the case, then you can contact the parent company directly with the DMCA notice. To reach their DMCA pages, just do a Google search for the sitename with the word DMCA. For example, searching for tumblr + DMCA in Google lead me to the following page that has a form from where I can send the DMCA notice: https://www.tumblr.com/dmca

Links to DMCA pages for popular free hosting sites:

WordPress: https://automattic.com/dmca-notice/
Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/dmca
Weebly: https://www.weebly.com/dmca
Blogspot: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/dmca-notice?pid=4&rd=1

If the Offender is Using a Third Party Site: In-case, the offender is reselling your digital products on third party sites like Ebay.com, Download.com, Sharecash.org, Amazon.com etc, then you can send a DMCA to these sites directly. Visit their DMCA page by making a Google search for sitename.com followed by the word DMCA. Eg: Ebay.com +DMCA

Note: Once you send the DMCA, more often than not, the hosting company will suspend their services to the offender and their website will go offline. There is of-course all the more possibility that the offender will re-host their site with another hosting provider. So keep checking the status of the website. In-case they do re-host their site, send DMCA to the new host as well.

Check to see if the offending site is indexed in Google, Yahoo or Bing and if it is ranking organically.

You can find if the site is indexed by performing a search using the site search command as follows:


Replace 'sitename.com' with the domain name of the offending site.

Google site search

To see if the site is ranking organically, use a service like SEMrush.

If the site in question has copied only some of your content, then note down those URLs and check if those URLs are getting organic traffic. Again, this can easily be done using SEMrush.

If you find that the site is indexed you can send a DMCA request to get their website removed from search engine indexes.

Use the following information for sending DMCA to the search engines.

Sending DMCA Notice to Google Inc: You can send DMCA via the following URL after logging into your Google Account: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/dmca-notice?rd=1

Visit this URL to report other types of infringements with Google: https://support.google.com/legal/troubleshooter/1114905?hl=en

Sending DMCA to Bing: For DMCA notices to get a website removed from BING organic search results, vist: https://www.microsoft.com/info/FormForSearch.aspx

For DMCA notices to get a website removed from BING Ad Network, send an email to: anpc@microsoft.com

Or visit the following URL: https://www.microsoft.com/info/Search.aspx for more details.

Sending DMCA to Yahoo Inc: Visit the following URL and click on Submit a Copyright Infringement Notice: https://policies.yahoo.com/us/en/yahoo/ip/index.htm

c.) Sending DMCA to Payment Gateways

If the offending site is selling your products and is using a payment gateway (eg: Paypal, 2Checkout etc.) to collect payments, you can contact the payment gateways to suspend their services so the offender cannot accept payments.

To find the payment gateway, follow these steps:

  • Locate a product on the infringing website and try to make a purchase. This will take you to the payment gateway giving you information about the company offering the service.
  • Do a search in Google with the website name to reach the website of the Payment Gateway provider.

Here again, a simple way to find the DMCA page for these payment gateways is to Google the name of the payment gateway along with the word DMCA.

For Eg: If you want to find the DMCA details page for Paypal.com, search Google with the keyword Paypal.com +DMCA. And for 2Checkout.com, search Google for 2Checkout.com +DMCA. Performing these searches lead me to the following pages which gives me details on how to send DMCA to these services:

Paypal: https://www.paypal.com/az/webapps/mpp/ua/infringementrpt-full
2Checkout.com: https://www.2checkout.com/policies/copyright-policy/

d.) Sending DMCA Notice to Ad Networks

If the site is selling your digital goods then there is a possibility that they are using some sort of advertising to generate traffic to their website. This could be through advertising networks like Google Adwords, Yahoo/Bing Ads or through a myriad of other networks. Although it is difficult to figure out all the networks they are using to generate traffic, you can easily find out if they are using Adwords or Yahoo/Bing Ads through a service like SEMrush.

Go to SEMrush.com, input their website URL and check if they are generating any traffic from Paid Search. If yes, click on advertising research to investigate further. Do this for Bing as well. You should be able to select Bing data from the Other Countries drop down menu.

To get more information on using SEMrush, read this beginner's tutorial.

If they are using either of these networks to generate traffic, you can contact the abuse departments of Adwords and Bing Ads to cancel their account. Links to abuse departments are as follows:

Adsense/Third party Ads: In-case of content infringement, there is a possibility that the offender is using third party advertising to generate revenue. Check the offending website to see if they are displaying third party ads like Adsense, Media.net etc. or if they are promoting affiliate products.

You can later mail these Ad companies and urge them to suspend the offender's ad account. This will certainly be a blow to the offender.

e.) Sending DMCA Notice to Domain Registrar

If you want, you can also send a DMCA to the domain registrar of the offending website. Although, registrars do not take immediate action and might require far more investigation before they can suspect a domain name.

You can find out the registrar of the domain name by checking the WHOIS as mentioned earlier. All registrar's have an abuse contact email through which you can get in touch with them.

Part 3: Important Additional Info To Include in Your DMCA Report

Here are some additional tips that you can use to make a powerful case for yourself. You can include all this additional information in your DMCA report to make your case stronger.

a.) Domain/Site age:

The age of the Domain name (in other words, when the domain was first registered) can be found by checking the WHOIS information (as mentioned earlier in this article). If your domain is older and the offender's domain name is relatively newer, your case is stronger.

b.) Archive.org Information:

Archive.org is a website that keeps a record of all changes made to a website. Check the offender's website on Archive.org and see at what point his website started to violate your copyrights. Similarly, check your site on Archive.org and make a note of the date when the material in question was first on your site. (refer image below)

For example, if your content was stolen and the date of publication of the content on your site is earlier than on the offender's site, you have a strong case.

Archive.org snapshot

c.) Infringing Content Pages:

In-case of content theft, use a service like Copyscape to identify all pages that are partially or fully related to your content.

Some Things to Note

  • Send out proper Cease and Desist Email Depending on the nature of infringement.
  • Send Cease and Desist emails to all email addresses present on the offender's website and whois information. Also send the mail through contact forms if any, present on the offender's website.
  • Give at-least 24 hours for the offender to respond and if he complies with your request don't take any further action. You can leave him with a warning to not repeat such behavior.
  • If you are Faxing the DMCA Document, Fax it over a Company Letter Head. Note down the date of fax and keep delivery reports in file for future reference.
  • If you are sending the DMCA through Email, make sure to send a copy to abuse@sitename.com
  • Make sure that you have checked the documents thoroughly before you fax or email it.
  • Some Hosting companies and Payment Gateways have different formats for DMCA. So make sure to check if there are any specifications mentioned on the site.
  • The DMCA report should contain direct links to online original copyrights wherever available.
  • Keep following up with the DMCA mail on a daily basis, but do not send more than one mail a day. Follow up mails need to be simple and precise with a clear tone.
  • If any of the parties contacted responds to your DMCA queries and takes necessary action, use that mail to convince others to follow suite.

Glossary of Some Technical Terms Used in this Article

Cease and Desist: Cease-and-desist is a legal term essentially meaning 'stop'. It is used to demand a person or organization to permanently stop doing something (to cease and desist from doing it).

DMCA: Digital Millennium Copyright Act is an Act Passed on October 12, 1998, to bring copyright law up to date with digital/online media.

Domain Registrar: A "Registrar" (or "Domain Name Registrar") is an organization like Network Solutions that has control over the granting of domains.

Domain Registrant: A registrant is the person or company who registers a domain name. For example, Joe Smith (registrant) registers the name joesmith.com through enom.com (registrar) who in turn submits the name to the central database (Registry).

Google Adwords: A Pay Per Click (PPC) program of advertising on Google. The ads appear on the Google Search results page along with organic ads.

ICANN: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the non-profit corporation that was formed to assume responsibility for the IP address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions.

Online Payment Gateways: A service that allows companies to accept credit card payments online.

Private Whois: A private whois information does not allow the contact details of a website to be publicly view-able. To view such an Whois information, the registrar has to be contacted with valid reasons.

Paid Search Ads: Paid Ads are sponsored search engine listings that are displayed by the search engines along with organic results in order of the price paid by the advertiser.

SERP: SERPs are Search Engine Results Pages which refers to the resulting listings that are shown when a keyword is searched upon.

Whois: WHOIS databases contain nameserver, registrar, and in some cases, full contact information about the registrant of a domain name.

Have a query? Leave it in the comments below.

Related Articles



  1. Sakshi says:

    Nice Article thanks for sharing. I strongly recommend this article to those bloggers who felt or feeling something like me.


  2. Mai Hoang Yen says:

    Thank you so much for your sharing. In this digital age, we really need this. Thanks a lot for your time, great efforts and kind heart for sharing quite well and in detail.

  3. Tin Trung Vo says:

    Thank you for your sharing. This will help the internet environment become more "clean".

  4. Himanshu says:

    Nice article. I have one question regarding to this. In 2014 someone created a website very similar to mine. He had rewritten the articles and the content was copyscape passed. However I was able to locate 2 main similarities

    1. Post Titles were exactly same
    2. Font face , color was same.

    Although the articles were rewritten but If you will read it you can easily identify that it was simply reproduced. At that time I didn't do anything because my website was new and was not bringing much traffic. But I would like to know do I stand a point winning a DMCA case in my scenario? I may or may not act against the previous offender but your answer might help me in future.

    • M Mukesh says:

      Hi Ankit, that totally depends on how well he reproduced your content. If there are far too many similarities like the same heading, same sub-headings etc. you do stand a chance. You would need to prove that you wrote the content first and you can easily do that using Archive.org.

  5. Samantha says:

    I have recently come across a website which takes artwork from members of deviantART and uses artwork to sell as posters without their permission, including my own! It's called payposter.com. Apparently it's a phishing site though so you shouldn't file for a DMCA.

    I'm really not sure on whether or not to trust this information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *