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The internet is an awesome place where many creators can share their work and earn from selling digital products. Unfortunately, one of the biggest hurdles to making a living online is that your work can sometimes be stolen or pirated. In such cases, some nefarious third-party may purchase then re-distribute your products (for free, or sometimes at a discount) — either way, people are not paying you for what you created, which means you are losing money.

You worked hard to create your content and deserve to be compensated for every download. Yet creators with products or services in the digital realm are constantly at risk of others stealing their work, something generally referred to as “copyright infringement” or “piracy.” Copyright infringement and/or piracy can happen in many ways and across a wide range of digital platforms.

There are myriads of ways for pirated copies of your work to make their way the web, and nothing feels worse than seeing someone else giving away your hard work online. Reporting piracy can be difficult, but we’re here to help. If you believe that your creative work has been affected by an act of piracy, please read below for more information about what to do next.

1. File DMCA reports

In the event your work is being infringed online, you can send a DMCA takedown notice to websites and search engines requesting the removal of the infringing material, activity, or link. A few important points to understand before sending a DMCA notice:

  • Only copyright owners and their agents are able to send a DMCA notice to have their work taken down (if you are not the copyright owner report the piracy to the copyright owner through the directory above and they can decide whether to submit a DMCA notice)
  • DMCA takedown notices can be sent regardless of whether the work is registered with U.S. Copyright Office
  • It is good practice to first determine whether the use qualifies as a fair use before sending a notice.

The first DMCA reports you file should be with Google and Bing: these take less than 2 minutes to fill out and will get processed fairly quickly (usually within 24 hours), after which the pirated content will be hidden from search results.

2. Report to the file hosts

After reporting to search engines, you should send DMCA reports directly to the website where the pirated content is hosted. Most file hosts (ie. Gumroad, ZippyShare, Nitroflare) have dedicated DMCA pages where you can file a report, but you can also simply send an email or contact form using the DMCA email template below (adapted from Scribd).

Here are links to DMCA takedown submission forms for some of the most popular websites and content platforms (if you can’t find the website you’re looking for below, you may want to check the Copyright Office’s DMCA Designated Agent Directory):

Some known piracy websites will not comply with DMCA reports, in which case you can go upstream to their hosting provider and ISP (which you can find using a quick WhoIs lookup) and report their illegal activity and copyright infringement.

DMCA Takedown email template

========== BEGIN SAMPLE DMCA TAKEDOWN NOTICE ==========

Attn: Copyright Agent, [File Host Business Entity (ie. Scribd, Inc.)]

Pursuant to 17 USC 512(c)(3)(A), this communication serves as a statement that:

  1. I am [the exclusive rights holder | the duly authorized representative of the exclusive rights holder] for [title of copyrighted material being infringed upon, and, if possible, additional identifying information such as ISBNs, publication dates, etc — or, if the material is a web page, the URL];
  2. These exclusive rights are being violated by material available upon your site at the following URL(s): [URLs of infringing material];
  3. I have a good faith belief that the use of this material in such a fashion is not authorized by the copyright holder, the copyright holder’s agent, or the law;
  4. Under penalty of perjury in a United States court of law, I state that the information contained in this notification is accurate, and that I am authorized to act on the behalf of the exclusive rights holder for the material in question;
  5. I may be contacted by the following methods (include all): [physical address, telephone number, and email address];

I hereby request that you remove or disable access to this material as it appears on your service in as expedient a fashion as possible. Thank you.

Regards,
[your full legal name]

========== END SAMPLE DMCA TAKEDOWN NOTICE ==========

3. Get piracy protection

There’s no worse feeling than finding an illicit copy of your premium asset being stolen &/or re-distributed by someone else online. Digital creators are all too familiar with the struggles of detecting & removing illegal and pirated copies of their assets from the web. After experiencing this first-hand at VIP Graphics, we decided to do something about it.

As mentioned earlier, one must be an authorized representative of the copyright owner in order to file DMCA reports:

That is why we created Privateer: we take care of protecting your work from piracy and illegal re-distribution, so you can focus on being creative. Our done-for-you service automagically handles scanning and removing pirated or illegal copies of your premium asset(s).

Just sign up & submit your assets once, and Privateer takes care of the rest! Plus, you’ll get a report every quarter with the details of the links we detected &/or took down.

Since starting our service, we’ve discovered all kinds of shady approaches to copyright infringement and piracy, such as:

  • Sellers on Etsy & Tokopedia re-selling (unlicensed) Procreate brushes at a discount (undercutting the original creator’s price)
  • @chddaniel of Simple.Ink outright stealing and re-selling Supercreative’s Notion Freelancer Pack
  • Discord servers dedicated to illegally sharing pirated premium assets from marketplaces like CreativeMarket and Etsy

We’re continuing to learn and adapt to combat the new methods that pirates use to illegally distribute the work of creators. We hope this guide will help you protect your creations from piracy and copyright infringement.

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