What Should You Do!
If your photos are being used by scammers you have some power!
First it is important to understand how this happened.
You probably let them do it.
In today's internet world, you have to be in control of your privacy and who has access to your information. Facebook, Tumblr, Picasa, Pintrest, all allow control over who can see your photos - take advantage of these and lock them down. If you don't know, get your friends to help you.
When you post photos to a dating website, you have lost control, so be very careful about what you post. Once they are posted, the dating website operator has complete control of when, where, and how those photos are displayed - it's in their Terms and Conditions agreement. Yes, you agreed to that!
So What Do You Do After The Scammers Have Them!
If you are in the United States, we have a law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This allows you to force their removal if you did not place them there. There are limitations, for example, we fall under the common use provisions because we present them for Crime Evidence Preservation and because we are a new media outlet. But a dating website has no such right and you can not only force them to be removed, but hold them liable if they reappear.
<firstimage="http: cdn.makeuseof.com="" wp-content="" uploads="" 2010="" 03="" 1-dmca-intro.jpg?a53b57"="">The Digital Media Copyright Act, otherwise known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or simply the DMCA, is a Federal copyright law that was meant to curb Internet piracy of digital media. The bill passed in the U.S. Senate by unanimous decision on October 12, 1998 and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton seventeen days later.
Since that time, the DMCA has been implemented in many notable court cases and heavily criticized by society. It is essentially the law that made it illegal to download copyrighted digital media such as music, movies, and software, and is what the RIAA and MPAA have used to combat piracy in the courts.
So exactly what is the Digital Media Copyright Act and what’s all the commotion about? Well, the DMCA is still a heated topic today because of its use in the fight against online piracy and its effects on Internet users. But it can also help in the fight against online scammers that use photos to steal identities of others.
So What Is the Digital Media Copyright Act?
The DMCA is comprised of five titles and implements two treaties signed at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Geneva conference in 1996. The five titles are as follows:
- Title I: WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act
- Title II: Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act
- Title III: Computer Maintenance Competition Assurance Act
- Title IV: Miscellaneous Provisions
- Title V: Vessel Hull Design Protection Act
Now that’s a lot of legal wordiness and doesn’t really explain the key points of this document. Allow me to translate this for you. I will list the important points made in this law doctrine and cite examples of how they have influenced activity on the Web.
The illegal file-sharing of copyrighted materials is probably the most widely known and openly discussed effect of the Digital Media Copyright Act. It is illegal to host, share, or download copyrighted works, including music, movies, books, software, etc. This is what we are focused on here.
Title II of the DMCA creates a safe harbor for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) against copyright liability if they meet the guidelines and block access to””or remove””allegedly infringing material after receiving notification from the copyright holder. In other words after you notify the ISP or Hosting company. Remember, there are limitations, but a scammer's use of your photo seriously qualifies.
A safe harbor is a legal term that means as long as the ISPs comply with the copyright holder’s request (and take down the material) then they will not be held legally accountable for the infringing material.
In summary, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act lays the groundwork for all Internet-related copyright law and is the basis that a lot of court cases and online activities are carried out on.
Sample DMCA Notice Letter
You would sent this to the Dating Website Owner/Operator, and if that fails to their hosting company!
Look up the company contact information here: Use The WHOIS Search for their Domain name
Insert your information below:
SAMPLE DMCA TAKE DOWN NOTICE
My name is INSERT YOUR FULL LEGAL NAME and I am the legal owner of copyrighted material. A website that your company hosts (according to WHOIS information) is infringing on at least one copyright owned by my company.
A photo/image of myself was copied onto your servers without permission. The original PHOTO, to which we own the exclusive copyrights, can be found at:
PROVIDE YOUR WEBSITE or SOCIAL PROFILE URL
The unauthorized and infringing copy can be found at:
PROVIDE THE DATING WEBSITE URL - THE ACTUAL PAGE ADDRESS
This letter is official notification under Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (”DMCA”), and I seek the removal of the aforementioned infringing material from your servers. I request that you immediately notify the infringer of this notice and inform them of their duty to remove the infringing material immediately, and notify them to cease any further posting of infringing material to your server in the future.
Please also be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receiving this notice. Under US law a service provider, such as yourself, enjoys immunity from a copyright lawsuit provided that you act with deliberate speed to investigate and rectify ongoing copyright infringement. If service providers do not investigate and remove or disable the infringing material this immunity is lost. Therefore, in order for you to remain immune from a copyright infringement action you will need to investigate and ultimately remove or otherwise disable the infringing material from your servers with all due speed should the direct infringer, your client, not comply immediately.
I am providing this notice in good faith and with the reasonable belief that my rights are being infringed. Under penalty of perjury I certify that the information contained in the notification is both true and accurate, and I have the authority to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright(s) involved.
Should you wish to discuss this with me please contact me directly.
City, State Zip
You would send this to each person involved: The website operator company, the legal contacts in WHOIS, and the hosting company. Don't worry about notifying the scammer.
This is how this works, and if they do not do as you direct, then you have a case for a lawsuit.
Remember, the scammers still have their copy of the photos, and those are not going to go away. This is why we maintain copies of the photos here, as a record of the fact that your identity has been stolen. We know it is embarrassing to see them here, and that you would want them removed also, but these photos are helping you make your case against the dating website, and against future reappearances of the photos. This is a permanent record that your identity has been stolen, and helps everyone involved identify that fact. If we have a photo of a minor child, please let us know and we will remove it.
Just remember, we all have a responsibility to help fight scammers. They are like cockroaches, and the more that we stop out, the more there seems to be. It's all about the money!