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26 Feb 2014

What to do When Your Indie Game Content is Stolen

Have you ever had to deal with someone stealing content related to your indie game? Hopefully you haven’t, but in the event that this ever happens, you need to know how to protect yourself and stop the theft before it becomes an even bigger deal. Whether someone has ripped content from the blog posts you have published related to your indie game or stolen videos and placed them on their YouTube channel without giving you the proper credit, you need to know how to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to your advantage.

First, let’s learn about ‘safe harbors.’

 

What is a safe harbor?

An ISP that hosts the content that is infringing on your indie game will almost always use a ‘safe harbor’ to their advantage. This means that even though the ISP is technically hosting the infringing content (and ultimately, in violation of copyright law), they are absolutely safe as long as they guarantee that infringing content is taken down the moment they are notified. If an ISP fails to take down the content? They could ultimately lose the safe harbor status and actually be responsible for every violation in the future. Thus, this is why huge ISPs like YouTube instantly take down any content the moment they are notified it is stolen.

 

So how do you send notification your content is being stolen?

Now that you know most (emphasis on most) ISPs are willing to take down any stolen content the moment they are notified, you need to know the best way to contact these ISPs directly. Once you figure out which ISP is technically hosting the content, look at this list of every registered agent on copyright.gov.

What’s so special about the list? It’s a collection of every ISP that uses the safe harbor approach. Within the list (if you’re not looking at it, look now) you will find links to documents that will provide you with a lead to whom to contact at the ISP. For example, if a video of your indie game is on YouTube, simply find ‘YouTube, LLC’ on the list, click the link to find contact information for requesting the stolen content to be taken down, and email the appropriate person.

Of course, the address takedown notices should be directed to is almost always on the ISPs Terms of Service document. This information is always updated as well, so it would be a good idea to look at the Terms of Service document as well to find out the best address for requesting your stolen content to be removed from the ISP.

 

Detail exactly what you need removed

Most ISPs receive tons of takedown notices every day. Thus, to ensure your stolen content is removed as quickly as possible, you need to provide as much detail as you possibly can. Include the following:

  • A description of where the stolen content is located on the ISPs site.
    • Provide a URL or even a screenshot.
  • Describe the stolen content.
    • Be as in-depth as possible.
  • Include your personal information, including your name, address, email address, and phone number.
  • A paragraph that states why you believe your content has been stolen.
    • This will be simple. Of course you know when your content has been stolen, but the ISP doesn’t know that. Detail exactly why you know the content has been stolen.
    • State that under penalty of perjury, the information you provided is 100% accurate.
      • This will show the ISP that you mean business.
  • Another paragraph stating that you own the content that was stolen.
    • State how you own the content. For example, since you developed the indie game, state that you own every aspect of the content that has been displayed and hosted on the ISPs site.
  • Provide a signature – physical or electronic.

 

Submit the notice to the appropriate address, and from there, the ISP will then take down the content (again, they have to or they risk losing their safe harbor status). Next, the ISP will contact you directly and tell you they have removed the content and ultimately, tell you in a nutshell what has happened since you contacted them. Ensuring that stolen content is removed is quite simple and straightforward, and because the law is on your side, it will certainly be taken down as quickly as possible.

Any questions, comments, or concerns? Let us know in the comments below!

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