What you won't find hereBefore I get started I'd like to make it clear that this news article does not deal with how to protect your work online (watermarks etc), whether or not you should post your work online or whether or not you should take steps to deal with copyright violations if the person committing them isn't profiting from your work or claiming credit for having created it.
It also does not contain a response to people who say "You're lucky your work is good enough to get ripped" although if it did, it would say something like "Don't be so stupid, theft isn't a compliment. If someone stole something from your shop you wouldn't sit back and feel thankful that your stuff was good enough to steal". But I'm not getting into that here.
What you will find hereThis tutorial contains information about some websites where rips occur, how to contact these sites and what information you should provide to help your report be dealt with quickly and painlessly.
There's a LOT of information available on the net dealing with copyright issues, and much of it is written in complex legal language or refers to taking legal action against people who infringe your copyright. This is great if you understand legalese and/or have a few thousand pounds/dollars/insert-currency-here kicking around for suing people with. It isn't a huge amount of use if all you want to do is make sure that your pictures are removed from someone's Photobucket account or MySpace page.
There is also plenty of information out there about protecting your work online but as many people have discovered, short of not displaying your work anywhere on the net ever, it's pretty much impossible to find a fail-safe way to prevent rips.
A little bit of backgroundRipping and Copyright Violation refer to the unauthorised use of a copyrighted work. For the purpose of this article, it will generally refer to visual artworks. A lot of the time people genuinely don't realise that they're doing anything wrong when they use a picture found on the net to prettify their MySpace profile or collect pictures they like from other sites in their Photobucket album. Because of this, you may choose to directly contact the person who is violating your copyright and try to explain the situation to them politely (if you're going to do this always be polite!).
In my experience, this generally results in being blocked from the person's page so you can't see your photos on it or communicate with the person, or simply getting a reply full of bitching about how 'selfish' artists are or how everything on the internet is fair game. Because of this, I tend to by-pass contacting individuals and prefer to contact the website which the infringed material is being displayed on.
For the purpose of this article, I am assuming that you too have reached the point where you wish to contact the website directly rather than communicating with the person who is ripping your work.
Repeat offendersThere are some sites where image rips appear regularly due to being based on user-generated content (stuff that people who use the site upload themselves without needing approval from the powers-that-be first). Luckily most of them have awesome tools in place to help you report copyright violations. In my experience, the sites listed below have dealt with copyright violation reports quickly, politely and helpfully.
Flickr has a refreshingly simple form that you can fill in and submit online. You can find it here >> http://help.yahoo.com/l/uk/yahoo/copyright/general.html
Photobucket provides detailed information about what you need to send to them, along with an email address and postal address to send it to, on this page >> http://photobucket.com/copyright
MySpace has an online form that you can fill in, although it only seems to work if you're logged in. You can find it here >> http://www.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=misc.contact
Windows Live Spaces also has an online form for you to fill in. It can be accessed and submitted from this page >> https://support.live.com/eform.aspx?productKey=wlspacesabuse&ct=eformts&scrx=1
Facebook has an information page here >> http://www.facebook.com/copyright.php which explains about copyright policy. There's an email address that you can contact and also an automated form >> http://www.facebook.com/copyright.php#/copyright.php?notify=1
Bebo has a contact form here >> http://www.bebo.com/ContactUs.jspwhich you can use without being signed in, and also a Report Abuse link under the main photo on each member's account. As far as I know, Bebo is like Facebook in that you must have an account and be signed in to view any of the content.
Multiply has a contact form here which anyone can fill in (you don't have to sign up to the site) >> http://multiply.com/info/inquiry
Zedge has a contact form here >> http://www.zedge.net/contact/ with Copyright Issues as an option.
I have intentionally not mentioned deviantART here because you should all know where to find the Report Deviation button and the Help & FAQ menu.
What to sayIf you're reporting a rip on a site like Flickr which has a form with sections to fill in, your report will be quick and easy to file. If you're contacting a site which only has an email or postal address provided, or an open form, you'll need to give them the following information:
- Your full name
- Your phone number
- Your full postal address
I also include my business name and portfolio site URL as a form of validation of my identity, but this isn't necessary.
A description of the copyrighted work including links to where it can be found on your own website or on sites where you have profiles/galleries. Bear in mind that certain sites (like dA and Flickr) place restrictions on the viewing of Mature Content material by people who aren't logged in, so if possible provide a link to somewhere that you know the picture will definitely be visible. If your watermark is on the ripped image, it doesn't do any harm to point this out.
A description of copyright infringement including links to where the ripped picture can be found in the gallery or on the profile of the person who is violating your copyright. I usually state that I don't know the person and have never had any form of communication with them, and that they are displaying my copyrighted work without my consent or permission.
You must also include a Statement of Belief: I believe, good faith, that the disputed use is not authorised by the copyright or intellectual property owner, its agent, or the law.
And a statement of ownership: The above information in the notice is accurate and that I am the copyright or intellectual property owner or authorised to act on the copyright or intellectual property owner's behalf.
Remember to be polite because no matter how annoyed you are, the copyright violation isn't the fault of the person who will read your email and handle your case.
If you found this tutorial useful ffeel free to tell people about it if you think it'll help them. I've typed pretty much this entire thing a number of times to individuals who were dealing with rippers and figured I ought to make a tutorial out of it to save time. I hope that by reaching a wider audience, this tutorial can help people to have the confidence to deal with copyright violations with a minimum of drama and upset.