How to Email a DMCA to Google

Google LogoGoogle is one of the most frustrating hosts to work with and it is because of steps six and seven in their process to send them a notice of copyright infringement.

Step six specifically instructs you to “sign the paper” and step seven only provides two means of sending it in. The first is via postal mail, the second is via fax.

The problem with these steps is that the vast majority of hosts accept, and even encourage, DMCA notices via email. Email is by far faster and easier to send for such complaints and, according to the ESIGN Act, should be able to deliver a perfectly acceptable electronic signature.

However, Google’s limited contact information and requirement of a physical signature seems to turn a digital matter into one that needs pen and paper to resolve. This has caused many to give up on sending notices to Google and just tolerate any misuse that takes place on Google’s servers, including Blogger.

Fortunately, there is a way around this and a means to successfully email your DMCA notices to Google. All one has to do is be a little bit creative.

Step 1: Scan Your Signature

SIgnatureThe first step is to get your handwritten signature into your computer some way. This is because Google, even when accepting notices via email, still requires a handwritten signature most of the time.

There are several ways you can get your signature into an image file. First, you can simply sign a sheet of paper and scan it. Second, you can use a program such as Paint and draw your signature (best done with a stylus). Finally, you can take a picture of your signature with a good digital cam.

The end goal is to get your signature in clear black lettering on a white background.

Step 2: Get your DMCA Notice Ready

Next, obtain a copy of a good DMCA notice. If you wish, you can use the stock letters available on this site.

Once you have your notice, paste it into a word Processor that is capable of both importing images and exporting to PDF. You can use Microsoft Word, OpenOffice or many other applications for this purpose.

Then simply fill in the needed information as if you were just emailing it out and make sure that all of your information is accurate.

Step 3: Import Your Signature

Once you have the notice in your word processor, scroll down to where the signature goes and import your handwritten signature as an image file into the document.

Take a moment to make sure that it looks right and is ready for export.

Step 4: Export File to PDF

Primo PDF LogoExport the file to a PDF using the best tools available. Though most word processors can do this export directly, if you need to print the file to a PDF you can use a free PDF creator.

Most of the details about the quality of the PDF are unimportant, just make sure that the PDF is clear enough to be read and small enough to be emailed.

Step 5: Email the PDF

Though Google does not advertise their email address on their site, they did file a designation with the U.S. Copyright Office that provides an email for submitting DMCA notices.

You can send the PDF to that email address. Simply include it as an attachment and paste the text of the notice into the email.

There is no word if that email address will work after the designated agent returns to the office.

Conclusions

For most Web hosts, sending a DMCA notice is simply a matter of having a good stock letter, dropping it into an email, filling out the necessary information and then sending it on. It is only Google, to my knowledge, that requires this kind of effort.

However, Google receives such a large number of DMCA notices that it is important to be prepared to work with them. Not only do they host Blogger, which remains one of the most common hosts for spam blogs, but they host Google Groups and other services that could host infringing content.

They are also one of the top advertising networks with Adsense and their policy for reporting infringers using Adsense closely mirrors the one for Blogger. This technique should also work for that.

Most importantly though, they are also the number one search engine in the world and the search DMCA policy also closely mirrors the other two, complete with physical signature requirement and fax/snail mail only filing. This technique should work with it as well.

Until new systems come online to help us report spam and copyright infringement to Google, this is the best technique to file a DMCA notice via email.

It is a bit complicated and convoluted, but it is certainly preferable to the delays of postal mail and the hassle of a fax.

21 Responses to How to Email a DMCA to Google

  1. cybele says:

    My biggest annoyance with Google, besides that I’ve been faxing them, is that their response is canned. It consists of referencing the date of my filing (which may have been as long as 10 days ago) and assigning a case number. However, they NEVER include what the domain is that the complaint was about. I’ve asked a dozen times for them to include that in their canned response and in their counter notification, but they never do.

    Not only that, for the counter notification it’s attached as a TIFF file. Which is usually ten times larger than it has to be (and often has a squished aspect ratio … one I got was in Chinese so I had to email them and ask for a translation).

  2. I think the canned response comes from the fact that Google likely gets more DMCA notices than just about anyone on the planet. Granted, they’re a big enough company to handle it and could put a little more effort into it, but still, I am not without all sympathy in that area.

    I also agree that the nature of their response is fairly useless and they need to include more relevant info. I’m having that problem regularly.

    Not having seen a counter-notice or any putback notice involving a Google case, I can’t comment on the Tiff issue but I have no reason to doubt that’s the case. I’ve always wagered that faxes there are converted straight into images and processed that way. Sounds to me as if Google might need to get some new scanning software.

    As for the translation issue, I don’t know how much faith I’d have in that, considering the “success” of Google translate these days.

    Five bucks they just ran it through that and sent it on…

  3. [...] Fortunately, my workaround should still be applicable to Knol. [...]

  4. [...] his position as head copyright council to Google often put me at odds with his company’s policies, when he spoke on his personal blog, I, as well as many others, listened and we did so with a kind [...]

  5. steve says:

    Jonathan – your downloadable DMCA form suggests inclusion of one’s postal address and telephone #, yet google’s own information on http://www.google.com/blogger_dmca.html (referring primarily to DMCA submission via post or fax) merely says :

    “Provide information reasonably sufficient to permit Google to contact you (email address is preferred).”

    This would seem to suggest that providing email alone would be sufficient; given that most of us don’t want to provide our addresses & phone #s on documents that might be seen by the spamming & scraping fraternity, I’d be interested to hear your take on that.

    Incidentally, we’ve just emailed Google with a copyright complaint after following your tips, and received a preliminary reply. So the email procedure still works; many thanks.

    Unfortunately, it’s one step forward and two steps back as a post on my blog yesterday was scraped within an hour of posting….*sigh*….here we go again….

  6. Ok, this is worth taking a minute to talk about.

    Section 512(c) of the copyright code says the following:

    “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.”

    Technically speaking, submitting just your email address *should* be adequate for getting action on a DMCA notice. However, I can tell you straight forward that providing a DMCA notice with just an email address will, very likely, result in your notices being bounced at many hosts.

    My goal when creating the stock letters, which were then later used in the section, was to create notices that worked as close to 100% of the time as possible. Considering that a sizable number of hosts rejected DMCA notices without full address and phone, it seemed worthwhile to include.

    To be certain, you can try with just an email and, if it is returned, then file with full information. While I agree that many would prefer not to expose their personal information, remember, this is just information that can contact you. You are free to use your lawyer’s office, a P.O. box or anything else.

    Considering I had one DMCA notice bounce years ago because I didn’t provide a then-non-existent fax number, I would much rather give too much than too little.

    Certainly though, you are free to try whatever combination of information you wish, I just put in there what worked best for me.

    Please note that I have not tried with Google using just an email address, so I can not comment on the effectiveness of that. My issue was with other hosts, mostly free Web hosts.

    Hope that this answers your question!

  7. steve says:

    OK, that seems clear. Better to be thorough with these things, as you say! Thanks for the clarification.

  8. No problem, I guess it’s a matter of trading off privacy for likelihood of success. Tough call here…

    Thanks for writing!

  9. BC says:

    Helpful article, thanks. Last time I was looking for an email address to send these two (before this article was published) I couldnt find anything. Sort of ironic that I'm seeing it just an hour before it becomes October 1st! My faxed and mailed letters to Google are only responded to 1/4 of the time, or less.

  10. You might want to check and see if you have the latest email address for Google. They recently changed it to DMCA-agent@. It's on the PDF that I linked in the article.

    If you are still getting a weak response, please let me know!

  11. [...] Google, this one is for you. [...]

  12. [...] over their Blogger service. I first wrote on the topic in 2006, and posted a workaround to email a DMCA notice to Google in [...]

  13. [...] Google’s DMCA Policy (and there may also be a way to email a DMCA notice to Google) [...]

  14. Jeff Anderson says:

    The copyright website has updated. The new link is:http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/agents/g/goog…..

  15. *Martin says:

    As an artist I've successfully reported copyright infringements to Yahoo, but unsuccessfully to Google groups. They just don't respond. Yahoo usually does within 1-2 days. Two such notices, by the same person or by different persons, gets the group deleted. However, Yahoo does not keep track of the IP, so some are back very soon with another group, just changing the name a little. These are notorious, pathological pirates who never learn. Everything on the net is theirs to have, right?Yahoo accepts a digital signature, so there is no need to scan your real signature. Sign as: /your name/ and again without the slashes.By the way, Yahoo informs the group owner, thereby telling him your real name and perhaps another e mail address you're using to send the notice. How nice! He can now ban you from his group, and will. One even published it all after the first notice from Yahoo. And his chorus of followers started to attack me… How dare I suggest it's my artwork and not theirs to publish. Another group ID and e mail address is therefore best, for spying…

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  17. [...] to the process when dealing with Blogger complaints, I’ve mostly been limited to posting information about workarounds for sending DMCA notices to Google and complaining about Google’s shell games with [...]

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