We keep hearing from people who see their articles or book chapters reprinted in blogs, or offered for sale on various websites, without their knowledge or consent. One member recently demanded payment from such a blog, and got it. But if that fails, you can have the work removed by invoking the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which requires Internet service providers to take down copyrighted work upon request. Here’s a summary of the law: http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf. Blogs and websites don’t steal work haphazardly. They usually buy it from someone. That someone could be your publisher, or an aggregator who buys and resells bodies of work from cash-strapped magazines and presses.
If your contract precludes that, ask your publisher how your work got released illegitimately. (If in doubt, contact GCD at firstname.lastname@example.org and request for an advisor to review your contract.) If your agreement with the publisher allows for dissemination of your work in all media now known or hereafter to be invented, ask to be informed of such transactions. Going forward, don’t sell anything without a contract, even if it’s simply an email exchange stipulating the terms. Make sure the language is specific about what rights the publisher will have. If they include resale(s), try to get veto power, or ask to be notified before a transaction is concluded. The exposure offered by new outlets could benefit you, but you should at least know about them.
Here’s are sources of good information about DMCA:
Samples of DMCA requests, known as takedown notices, are found at providers’ sites:
Ask Google to remove links at:http://www.google.com/dmca.html. Or pay www.dmca.com to do it all for you. You may request compensation through them, but don’t expect to get it. Settle for the takedown.
Barbara Mende is coordinator of the Grievance and Contract Division