RIGHT OF THE DAY: Quickly have your scandalous photos removed from the internet

YOUR RIGHT OF THE DAY: Websites that show your* photos (or other content you own) without your permission must quickly remove them when you send them a valid “takedown notice.”1Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities whose photos were hacked and leaked on the internet are taking advantage of this relatively easy to use legal tool to get these photos taken down.

Thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) passed in 1998, you can request that websites remove your* photos posted without your permission, by simply sending them what is known as a “DMCA takedown notice.” Even if the website or web host itself didn’t post the photo, but one of its users did, the site or host must take down the offending material, and must do so quickly. In fact, an attorney for some of the hacked celebrities is threatening to sue Google for $100 million for not removing the photos quickly enough.

Here’s how it works:

How to get websites to take down your photos

First we should explain a couple things:

  • *your photos: You own a photo when you have actually pressed the “shoot” button or instructed someone else to, regardless of whose camera you use and regardless of who is in the photo. (You may remember the recent issue about the macaque monkey who grabbed a man’s camera to take a selfie. The macaque would have owned the photo except for the fact that he wasn’t human.) Most of the photos in your phone/camera are probably taken by you or at your instruction, so you probably own them.
  • takedown notice: this is the request you make to a website to take down your photos.

Here’s what the “takedown notice” should contain:

  • Identify yourself (name, address, phone number, email)
  • Identify the offending images, for example by describing them or better yet by sending a copy of them (that could get awkward, but it may be necessary)
  • Link to or describe where you saw the offending images
  • Include the following statements:
    1. Statement that you have a good faith belief that the use of the material identified in (2) is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
    2. Statement, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that you are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the exclusive right that is alleged to be infringed.

You can get tips on finding and contacting the host of the site here, and further information about DMCA Takedown Notices here and here.

If you have trouble with the takedown notice or if a website/host won’t comply, you may want to find a copyright lawyer to help you. And if don’t happen to own the photos, you may be able to get them removed with the help of a privacy lawyer.

Photo: "Jennifer Lawrence at the 83rd Academy Awards" by Mingle MediaTV - Flickr: Jennifer Lawrence at the 83rd Academy Awards Red Carpet IMG_1081. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jennifer_Lawrence_at_the_83rd_Academy_Awards.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Jennifer_Lawrence_at_the_83rd_Academy_Awards.jpg

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