Disclosure: Through my consulting firm, CopyByte, I provide DMCA takedown services and earn a portion of my income from it. However, the purpose of this article isn’t so much to promote my service or anyone else’s, but to help users understand the types of services out there, what they do and how to pick one that works for you.
If you’re interested in taking on a third-party DMCA service, you’ll find quickly that there is no shortage of companies out there. However, you’ll also quickly learn that the offerings seem to vary wildly, ranging from services that that charge hundreds of dollars for a single takedown to companies that claim to provide “unlimited” takedowns for only a small monthly fee.
While some of this is simply price differences between competitors, much of it is because different companies provide very different services aimed at different audiences.
Because, while all DMCA services do fundamentally the same thing, remove content and/or links from the Internet, there are key differences in how they work and those differences can have a major impact on which service, if any, is the right one for you.
So, before you sign a contract, it makes sense to understand a little bit about the differences between DMCA services and who they are right for.
The Types of DMCA Services
Generally speaking, there are four types of DMCA services out there, each of them with different aims and target markets:
- Self Help Services: These are services that aim to just make it easier for the user to file the DMCA notice. They typically are either free or very cheap but require the user to do most of the work. They are ideal for people who prefer to do the work themselves but need help getting started.
- One-Off Services: These services are straightforward, you fill out a form outlining the infringement and they prep/send the notice as a designated agent acting on your behalf. Ideal for people with a very small number of infringements that simply don’t want to deal with them. These, generally, have the highest price per notice.
- Anti-Piracy Services: These are services that work to get pirated content removed from the Web. They either target cyberlocker/torrent sites or, in many cases, work almost exclusively with Google. Due to their limited target, they can automate a great deal and send out a large volume of notices quickly. Ideal for people interested solely in protecting something they sell from piracy, such as ebooks, software, movies and audio.
- Full-Service Firms: These firms can handle any type of infringement on any type of site. Due to the large number of hosts and the variety of situations, they automate much less and the cost per notice is higher than piracy-oriented firms but they can handle a much wider variety of cases. Ideal for infringements that aren’t going to be on cyberlocker sites, such as text, images and similar content.
What this means is that a good company can give you a very negative experience. If you need to blast out large volumes of DMCA notices to cyberlockers, a full-service firm is going to wind up being very expensive. On the other hand, if you need to target sites on other webhosts or work with a variety of cases, a piracy-oriented firm isn’t likely to be much help.
To be clear, some companies to provide both types of service. For example, some companies provide a self-help service with ability to escalate to a one-off or even a full-service offering.
However, it’s important to think about the type of infringement you’re dealing with and decide what type of service is right for you.
Questions to Ask
When choosing a service, there are generally five questions you should try to answer as quickly as possible:
- Type of Service: See above.
- Detection: Who will detect the infringements and, if it is the service, is there a way you can submit any links that you find but they miss?
- Notice Preparation: Who prepares the notice and what name is it under?
- Parts of a Notice: What is included in a notice? How many links can be handled at once? What about compliance checking and follow-up?
- Cost: How much does the service cost and how much does that break out to for each notice?
If you can get answers to those questions, either from the site itself or by contacting the company, you can probably get a good idea of what the service does and what you’re paying for. From there, you can make decisions about whether the price is reasonable and you can start comparing services side-by-side effectively.
This, in turn, will make it a lot more likely you find a service that you’re happy with.
It’s important to remember that, when you choose a service to help you send your DMCA notices, that you’re hiring a firm to send out legal notices on your behalf. This means that, if the company were to either make mistakes or engage in unethical behavior, you could potentially be in legal trouble or, at the very least, suffer a serious public relations blow.
It’s important to be careful here and have a good relationship with your company. The last thing you want is for your service to send out bad notices in your name and turn what, at worst, was a routine infringement into a much bigger headache.
Fortunately, there are many legitimate services out there and outright scamming or true DMCA abuse is rare. But remember that more than your copyright is on the line when you send out a DMCA takedown notice and you should always choose accordingly.