You’ve found someone infringing your content and you want them to stop. However, after contacting the infringer directly, they are either unresponsive outright refuse to take any action. You decide that it is time to contact the host but, after performing your due diligence and finding the host of the site, you find yourself lost on how to actually get ahold of the right person.
The problem is compounded by a reluctance on the part of hosts to make this information readily available. Some of it is a desire to discourage false notifications, however, much of it is just a general desire to keep complaints to a minimum while still complying with the various laws. After all, every complaint costs them money both in terms of time and, most likely, lost customers.
The good news is that there are many places that you can look for an email address or other contact information. It is just a matter of knowing where to look.
Step 1: Look on the Site Itself
The first step for finding a DMCA agent to file a notice of copyright infringement is to look on the host’s site itself. Online service providers, as part of the DMCA, are required to post this information on their site and the vast majority do so.
However, this doesn’t mean that it is easily visible. This information is very often heavily buried.
The best place to start is at the bottom of the host’s home page. There look for a “legal” section as it is most likely to have the contact information you need.
Step 2: The Copyright Office
If you can’t find the DMCA contact information on the host’s site directly, it might be worthwhile to take a few moments to visit the Copyright Office’s directory of designated agents. Though this list is difficult to use (based on image-only PDFs) and tends to be out of date, it is a solid backup in the event you can’t find a DMCA contact on the site itself.
Be sure to check the age on any documents you open and be very careful to open the right file as many companies have very similar names.
Step 3: Ask
If neither of these sources produce any useful information, but you have an address that you know is valid, just wrong for the purpose, such as a “support” address, send an email there and ask where to direct the issue. It might add an extra step to the process but it is very effective when hosts do respond.
However, don’t give bogged down waiting for a reply, some will discard all non-related questions. So, once a day or two has passed, it is time to move on.
Step 4: Check for Another Host
If you’ve gotten this far and haven’t had any luck, it is worthwhile to take a moment and see if there is another host involved that it might be better to contact. For example, some Web hosts lease their servers from a larger company. Depending on how you found your host, you may want to contact the larger company or the smaller one instead.
The way to check for this is simple. Perform your Domain Tools
Try the domain that you are not looking at, most likely the domain of the name servers, and repeat steps 1 through 3 to see if you can find contact information for them.
Step 5: The IP Whois Records
If you used Domain Tools to locate the host of the site, you most likely have already looked at the whois information for the IP address. Though the initial purpose behind this was to find out who the host of a site is, or at least who owns the IP address, this record also contains some potentially valuable contact information as well.
Specifically, there will usually be an email account specified to receive abuse complaints. If you can find that account, it’s likely a safe bet that it’s a valid starting point for your contact (though they might not be the last).
Step 6: Guess
If you’ve reached this point, you’re probably at your wits end. If nothing else has produced a valid contact or the other addresses you have written haven’t panned out, the best thing you can do is simply guess. The most common addresses for DMCA-related questions, that I see, are as follows:
Odds are that at least one of those will get through to a human being. Though sending additional messages to webmaster@ and mail@ might not be a bad idea.
However, if you do send an email to all of these addresses, do expect the majority to bounce. The hope is that one or two will get through.
In the end, finding out who to contact about a DMCA agent takes a bit of sleuthing, especially if I don’t already have the site on my DMCA Contact List. However, if you’ve found the correct host, the hard part has already been done.
All you have do now is keep looking and, hopefully, find the information that you need.