The process begins when a copyright holder (or someone acting on their behalf) submits a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) takedown notice to us, claiming that their content is published on WordPress.com without their permission. They can submit a DMCA takedown notice via our form, email, or printed letter. After that, here’s what happens:
- We review the notice.
- If the notice is complete and valid, we remove the content.
- We notify the site owner and reply to the copyright holder to let them know we’ve taken action.
- We add a strike to the site owner’s account if they don’t counter the notice.
- If the site owner believes they have rights to use the content or that the notice was submitted incorrectly, we review and process their counter notice.
- We restore the content if the copyright holder doesn’t take further legal action within 10 business days.
When we first receive a DMCA takedown notice regarding a site, we review it to confirm that all of the required elements are present. Because the DMCA is law, we cannot accept a notice that’s missing any of the pieces outlined here.
In addition to reviewing notices for completeness, we also assess their validity. Although we respect copyrights, we also support everyone’s right to use content within the boundaries afforded by the law. Specifically, we reject notices that appear to be fraudulent or where the content identified:
- Isn’t copyrightable (for example, a person’s name).
- Is content that the complaining party may not own the copyright for (for example, the subject of a photo isn’t necessarily the copyright owner of the photo).
- Is fair use of copyrighted content.
If we receive a complete and valid DMCA takedown notice, we remove the content from the site and replace it with a DMCA removal message. For example, if we receive a DMCA takedown notice for an image within a post, we’ll replace only that image with a placeholder and insert text at the bottom of the post; the rest of the post and site will be unaffected.
Whenever we remove content from a site in response to a DMCA takedown notice we email the site owner and provide a copy of the original complaint. We also notify the copyright holder to let them know that the allegedly infringing content has been removed.
If the site owner wants to republish the post, they can edit the post to remove the specific content at issue. (This is only an option when only a portion of a post was identified as infringing.) After making the changes, the site owner must reply to our message to request removal of the DMCA takedown message.
Site owners cannot, under any circumstances, republish the allegedly infringing content. Republishing content that was removed after receipt of a valid DMCA takedown notice could result in the site being permanently suspended from WordPress.com. If the counter notice procedure is followed, we’ll restore the content at the appropriate time.
We’re required by the DMCA to have a repeat infringer policy, so if a site owner doesn’t counter a complete and valid DMCA takedown notice, we add a strike to their account.
We assess strikes after 10 business days, so that no one’s site is suspended before they have a chance to review the issue and submit a valid counter notice.
Sometimes a site owner will disagree with the DMCA takedown notice, believing that they are lawfully using the content. We encourage site owners to submit a counter notice if this is the case. After reviewing the counter notice for completeness, we reply to the site owner and notify the copyright holder, providing them with a copy.
In spite of the counter notice, the site owner cannot republish the content because the copyright holder then has 10 business days to initiate legal proceedings against the site owner to prevent them from using their content on WordPress.com. If at the end of the 10 business days, the copyright holder hasn’t initiated legal proceedings, the DMCA requires us to restore the content.