By enabling creators to instantaneously share their work with fans around the world, the modern internet represents a boon for creative professionals and is helping usher in the second renaissance. But quick-and-easy content distribution has its downsides; namely, it’s never been easier to pirate digital creative work.
As a creator, it’s troubling to see your work being used online without your permission. But there are tools and strategies you can deploy to help keep your content safe and under your control.
Start with an informal dialogue
When you see your work being used online without your permission, we recommend, as a first step, opening a dialogue to attempt to reach an informal resolution. Not everyone knows about IP laws, and people often share copyrighted material without knowing they’ve done anything wrong. When “piracy” turns out to be an honest mistake, a friendly message identifying yourself as the rights holder and requesting that the content be removed may be enough to solve the problem.
When Diplomacy Fails…
If an informal resolution isn’t possible, it’s time to consider your other options. In the US, creators can take advantage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or “DMCA”). The DMCA established a notice-and-takedown procedure, whereby rights holders can contact internet platforms to request pirated content be removed (this is commonly known as a “DMCA takedown request”, or more formally, a “notification of claimed copyright infringement”).
For more information on the DMCA takedown process, check out our Help Centre article: How do I send a DMCA notification of claimed infringement.
It’s important to note that a compliant DMCA takedown request requires you – the rights holder – to provide your full contact information. The receiving party – the host platform – has no obligation to keep this information confidential, and will often share the takedown request, including your personal information, with the alleged infringer or even the general public. If you’re concerned about sharing your information, consider hiring an agent, such as a solicitor, to send the takedown request on your behalf.
Community building can buffer against piracy
There are also steps you can take to proactively safeguard your content from piracy. By offering your fans easy, reliable and meaningful access to your work – for instance, by maintaining a Patreon creator account – you’re disincentivising theft and incentivising would-be pirates to become legitimate patrons.
For information on how to properly set up and manage your Patreon creator account, check out the Help Centre resources found here.
Indeed, forming a direct and meaningful connection with your patrons humanises you as a creative professional and helps dispel the common myth that piracy is a victimless crime. Offering patrons a glimpse into your creative process and showing the time and effort you put into your work also demonstrates the inherent value of your creative output and reinforces the idea that your content is worth purchasing.