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I am referring to this situation: document B is alleged to infringe the copyright of document A.

Document B is hosted online (as I believe is necessary for the DMCA to apply).

Document A, the original work, is not online e.g. it is a printed book published in 1990.

By "DMCA takedown procedure" I mean the notice to the service provider, takedown, counter notice, safe harbor, etc.

The reason for this question is that many DMCA request forms (e.g. Google's) require a URL to the copyrighted work.

In the case of a paper book, can copyright holders just provide a citation of the publishing? Or do they need to scan a sample, post it online somewhere, and then provide a URL to it?

NB: assume the copyright was not registered.

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  • 2
    Note that the web form is just the preferred method of reporting for Google, you still have the option of contacting their legal department directly.
    – Cadence
    Dec 11, 2023 at 19:18
  • 3
    Google could have easily avoided this confusion by using the term URI instead of URL, since books have URNs and thus URIs. Dec 12, 2023 at 13:09
  • Google's DMCA form says "Please provide URL(s) where an example of the copyrighted work can be viewed. This will be used by our team to verify that the work appears on the pages you are asking us to remove." The second sentence implies that the request will be reviewed by humans rather than an automated parser, so hopefully they'll understand that you meant a printed book and will handle it properly.
    – Trang Oul
    Dec 13, 2023 at 8:30

2 Answers 2

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The relevant law requires only that the notice must provide "Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed" and "Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material". In the former case, it would be sufficient to provide the title of the print book.

However, Google does also ask

Where can we see an authorized example of the work?

(Please provide URL(s) where an example of the copyrighted work can be viewed. This will be used by our team to verify that the work appears on the pages you are asking us to remove.)

This in a surprising extra-legal add-on that is contrary to the law, at least if they use or require this information, and puts their safe harbor in jeopardy (the law does not empower providers to judge the validity of a copyright claim. However, you can directly mail the takedown notice to them – online reporting is not mandated by law.

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    I suspect the online form to be frequent victim of abuse attempts to remove "unwelcome" content online. Having to provide urls allows for manual review of the content, and might, in case of doubts of the legitimacy, require the issuer of the claim to go through other legal channels while still allowing for straightforward cases to be handled without much hassle such as paperwork.
    – Nicholas
    Dec 12, 2023 at 15:47
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    @Nicholas Filing a DMCA takedown notice can also be used by unscrupulous people as a method to try to get "the subscriber’s name, address, and telephone number", as that data must be included in a counter-claim, which must be forwarded by the service provider to whoever filed the takedown notice. If the service provider has seen a history of false takedown notices, then they could choose to do some non-required verification, but inaccurately failing to validate and not removing the content will prevent them from getting the safe harbor.
    – Makyen
    Dec 12, 2023 at 18:31
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Yes.

Many works do not exist online. Like books. You can DMCA a book that only exists physically. It's a little more complicated than for a webpage or online available one, but it works.

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