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Copyright, Berne & the DMCA

It happens more often and frequently than you think. You publish your masterpeice, a work of art, and somebody decides that they can use it gratis free for their own commercial project without permission, let alone add sufficient attribution.

The question is what can you do after this occurs and what can you do to prevent it from happening in the future.

Copyright

Before you approach the DMCA or Google, you need to be a 100% sure that you are the copyright owner for your work. If you materially misrepresent that your rights have been infinged you could be liabale damages including costs and attorneys fees. Copyright is designed to protect your work. If you create something original, be it a website, painting or piece of music you immeadiately become the copyright holder for your lifetime and for up to 70 years after your death. You do not need to do anything to register your copyright or use a copyright symbol, it is just one of things that happens for you on your behalf.

The Berne Convention

The Berne Convention was first established in 1887 in France. Victor Hugo was a key player in the development of this international convention. Prior to its instigation is was not possible for copyrighted works to be accessible outside their country of origin. Eventhough established over 120 years ago most emerging nations such as Bulgaria did not join the converntion until the late 1960s. The Berne Convention effectively protects your work under the copyright rules of the country of origin. The map below illustrates the countries that are a part of the Berne Convention (highlighted in blue)

Berne Convention

By User:Conscious - Own work. This file was derived from:BlankMap-World6.svgBerne Convention.png, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The DMCA

DMCA stands for Digital Millenium Copyright Act. A website at http://www.dmca.com is owned and operated by the Digital Millenium Copyright Services Act Ltd. If you beleive that your website content has been stolen you can ask this company to serve what is called a take down notice on your behalf. A takedown notice will enable a process where the content is removed from Google's search engine results pages as well as ultimately the offending website itself. The DMCA website offers two kind of services, free and professional ones. Their free service provide all the guideliness you need to create your own takedown notice. The profressional services start at £199 per take down and are a fully comprehensive legal solution. However if you add a DMCA badge to your website and if your content is stolen you can apply to the DMCA for a free. The badges provided by the DMCA are similar to the one featured below

DMCA.com Protection Status

Lumen

If you want to view online complaints such as DMCA takedown notices you can visit the Lumen Database. This website contains details on who is filing complaints and the type of copyright infringement that is being complained about. If you are curious about filing a legal complaint it is a good place to start.