June 20, 2010
Intellectual Property, Internet & E-Commerce Alerts

How to Notify Social Networking Websites About Your Claims of Copyright Infringement
by Cyrus Wadia

Social networking websites are the latest battleground for copyright infringement on the Internet.  This “how to” guide discusses how to notify a few of the top social networking websites – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace – about potential copyright complaints by their users.
Copyright owners have the exclusive rights to reproduce copies of a work, to prepare derivative works based on a copyrighted work, to distribute copies of the copyright work to the public, perform the copyrighted work,  display the work publicly, and in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly via digital audio transmission.  If you are a copyright owner who believes that your works have been infringed upon by a user of a social media website, you have several options.  In particular, the social media websites generally have detailed copyright infringement policies with specific ways to notify them about claims of infringement.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides the general process by which a copyright holder can notify an internet service provider about alleged copyright infringement.  In order to have alleged infringing materials removed, the copyright owner has to provide the service provider with the following information:  
  • A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted. 
  • 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.
  • A statement that the information in the 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. 

Each of the social media websites mentioned below have a variation of this general procedure, and can be contacted as follows.

The most popular of the social-networking services, Facebook has a easy-to-fill-out “DMCA Notice of Copyright Infringement” available here.  Although the form requires the standard DMCA information, there are two quirks.  First, Facebook indicates that it routinely provides the complaining party’s name to the allegedly-infringing user. Second, Facebook requests information regarding how the content infringes on the complaining party’s rights.  Facebook’s Terms of Service are available here.  

Although one would think it difficult to infringe on copyright in 140 characters or less, Twitter also has a standard copyright infringement policy set forth in their Terms of Service.  To complain about copyright infringement to Twitter, you send the standard DMCA information listed above to Twitter’s designated agent for notices of alleged copyright infringement:  Twitter, Inc., Attn: Copyright Agent, 795 Folsom Street, Suite 600, San Francisco, CA  94107, Email:  copyright@twitter.com.  Twitter further allows complaints to be filed via the Twitter Support page, and filing a Terms of Service request once you are logged in.
Twitter also maintains a useful “Help” article providing in-depth information about the notification process and actions Twitter takes in response to such notifications of claimed infringement, entitled, Copyright and DMCA Policy.

YouTube and Viacom are locked in a heated battle that may indeed spell out the limitations of copyright infringement claims for online service providers.  YouTube maintains an extensive FAQ library of information regarding what constitutes copyright infringement and ways to avoid it, and even has a “YouTube Copyright School” that covers such topics as copyright infringement, copyright ownership, penalties, authorized use, fair use, and a description of YouTube’s copyright tools.
YouTube has a straightforward DMCA Notification procedure here, and advises that the quickest way to deal with claims is via its online copyright complaint form (for which you need a YouTube account).  For those who prefer mail or email, YouTube’s designated agent for service of complains is: DMCA Complaints, YouTube, Inc., 901 Cherry Ave., Second Floor, San Bruno, CA 94066 USA, Fax: 650.872.8513, Email: copyright@youtube.com.

For companies that own copyrights, YouTube has a useful content verification program available here, that “assists copyright owners in searching for material that they believe to be infringing, and providing YouTube with information reasonably sufficient to permit us to locate that material.”
YouTube’s Terms of Service are available here.

MySpace also has a straightforward DMCA copyright notification procedure, and FAQs to describe it here.  Specifically, you send notices of claimed infringement to MySpace in one of three ways:  (1) by email to copyrightagent@support.myspace.com; (2) by facsimile at (310) 388-0892; and (3) by mail to Copyright Agent,MySpace, Inc., 8391 Beverly Blvd., #349, Los Angeles, CA 90048.  MySpace’s terms of service describing its copyright infringement policy is available here.

If you have questions or comments, please contact Cyrus Wadia, chair of Cooper, White & Cooper's Intellectual Property and Music & Recording Industry Practice Groups.

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