While your business may not be a major television network like AMC and your copyrighted material may not have the fan base that The Walking Dead has, protecting your intellectual property is important for businesses of all sizes. This is what you should know about DMCA notices and how they can help.

What is a DMCA notice?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) is designed to help those who have had their copywritten material stolen and posted on the internet removed as fast as possible. It offers a certain amount of safety from lawsuits to innocent parties to the theft, including web hosts, search engines, and other hosts who do not realize that they are posting copywritten material. In return, search engines and other internet companies are required to act promptly once notified to remove the material, penalize the guilty party, and help protect the copywritten material under attack.

For example, just about everybody knows that The Walking Dead is one of the biggest commercial hits out there on TV. It has achieved a measure of success that has surprised probably everyone, even its creators. Its intense story lines and suspenseful moments have also spawned a lot of sites dedicated to "spoilers" as fans try to figure out where the storyline is going to take them next. In at least one case, AMC, the network behind the show, has had to threaten legal action to stop spoilers and protect its material through a DMCA notice. After several cease-and-desist letters to the owner/operators of The Spoiling Dead fansite on Facebook, AMC sent Facebook A DMCA take-down notice over a leaked clip of film.

Why bother with the DMCA notice?

A lot of people may wonder why they should bother with the DMCA notice in such a case—or in many cases, actually. After all, if it's just excited fans talking about your product, isn't that sort of like free publicity? 

In the old days of advertising, the saying used to be "there's no such thing as bad publicity" as long as people were talking about your company and product. These days, however, even small companies have things that they should protect:

  • The creative works themselves—if you don't aggressively protect your product, you can lose exclusive rights to it.
  • Your company and brand recognition—you want to maintain a certain presence across your brand, not trust that others are going to do it for you the way that you'd prefer.
  • Your social media presence—in today's world, you want maximum control over your social media presence, and you don't want interest shifting away from your product or service because someone is putting your work out there before you're ready.

For more information on how to handle someone's theft of your intellectual property and the proper way to use a DMCA notice, visit a law firm like The Law Office of Vernon Nelson to talk to an attorney familiar with commercial litigation.