Here's a quick tutorial for anyone who might find their artworks on a website without their authorized permission. This is the method that you legally go about having copyright infringement dealt with, so your request (if submitted to a host located in the US or other countries that respect copyright laws) will not go ignored. You do not need a lawyer to file a DMCA takedown notice, you only need to be the copyright holder of the work. If you created the work, it's copyrighted to you.
You will usually not get much of a response if you try to submit an informal copyright notice through Support requests on a website. This method is what's outlined in Section 512(c) of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and what service providers will respond to.
STEP 1: See if the website has a copyright section in the Terms of Service, and look for takedown notice procedures.
Generally, you can find the Terms of Service link at the bottom of the website. Most websites will have a copyright/DMCA procedure section, where you can alert them if an infringement is going on. For example, look at the bottom of deviantArt's website, and you'll see a Copyright link. It's a bit long, but eventually you find their DMCA copyright takedown notice form: help.deviantart.com/dmca
If they do not have a specific form, they probably have an e-mail address for copyright notices to be filed to. It is usually firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Only the copyright holder or their agent can file a DMCA takedown notice. You cannot make this notice if you do not own the copyright. If you find someone else's artwork stolen, give the artist this link so they can make the notice themselves.
STEP 2: Takedown Notice Requirements
Legally, a takedown notice requires some specific information:
A physical or electronic signature of the artist or their agent
A link to your original work, stating it was infringed
A link to the infringing work
Any information you may have to allow the service provider to contact the infringing party (account username, etc)
A statement that you have "a good faith belief" that you/the copyright owner have not authorized the use of the material
A statement that the information you have provided "is accurate" and "under penalty of perjury" you are authorized to "act on behalf of the copyright owner"
"Quoted" sections mean you specifically have to use that language.
STEP 3: Takedown Notice Sample Letter
You are welcome to use this sample letter and fill in your information. This has been specifically tailored for artists.
My name is (insert your name) and one of your accounts is infringing on a copyright that I hold. The artwork (insert name of artwork), of which I hold exclusive copyrights to, was uploaded to your servers without permission.
The location of the original artwork is here: (insert url to your original work)
The location of the infringing material is here: (insert url to the infringing work)
I have a good faith belief that I, the copyright holder, have not authorized the use of this material. The information in this notice is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, I am authorized to act on behalf of the copyright holder.
Putting the / / around your name is required, because it indicates a digital signature.
STEP 4: Taking the matter further... and to the webhost.
In the event that the website does not remove or respond to your infringement notice, you can escalate the matter and take it to their web host. To find out the webhost of a domain, you can go to the WHOIS website: www.networksolutions.com/whois…
Type the domain into the url, and it will give you a page of information about that domain. There, you should be able to find the web host (usually under "Administrative Contact", though you can also look at the nameservers (ns1.webhost.com, ns0.webhost.com, etc)) to identify the host. When you identify the host, go to their website and repeat Steps 1 - 3.
Common hosts are hostgator.com, godaddy.com, dreamhost.com
If you didn't get a reply from the original site, you will nearly always get a reply from the web host. Their legal immunity for the copyright infringement disappears if they do not respond to your takedown notice.
STEP 5: What happens after I submit a takedown notice?
You'll get a reply when the service provider has removed the infringing content. They will have also notified the infringer that a takedown notice was submitted to them regarding the content.
Usually, at this point, nothing happens. However, the infringer can submit a legal counter notice stating that their use of the copyrighted work is authorized under the law, and that they accept legal proceeding from you. You will then have to file a lawsuit against the infringer and submit that information to the service provider to ensure the material stays off. You usually won't get that happening, but it is a possibility.
I hope this information has been useful for you. Please note that I am not a lawyer and I accept no liability for your use of this tutorial. This is an artist giving advice to other artists only.
Ever need help? Feel free to contact me.