I’ve been blogging since my college days. I sit down and write my own stuff. If I do lift words or sentences from an outside source, I quote and give credit to the originator.
The digital space in Ghana sometimes seems like the Wild West: Every does their own thing. There’s a lot of “copy and paste”, lifting pictures from Instagram or Facebook pages without asking for permission, and worst of all, photoshopping out visible watermarks from people’s pictures (!).
It’s crazy out here and no one seems to care. The unfortunate victims here are the Ghanaian content creators.
They say Ghanaians are pretty laid back and that’s kind of true. People get mad, they complain but at the end of the day, they don’t really take action.
But they can take action. That’s all thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Basically the act criminalizes sharing of tools that circumvent digital rights management (DRM) of copyrighted works. But most importantly, it carries penalties for copyright infringement on the internet. That means, if you copy/steal someone’s work and post it as your own, that’s basically theft and there are consequences.
So if you’re a content creator and you put your work on the internet and a third party takes that work and uses it for their personal gain without giving you credit, you can actually take action. You can serve that third party a DMCA Notice.
A DMCA Notice is notifying the third party’s company, web host or search engine that they’re either hosting copyright material or linking to said copyright material. The notice is to inform the third party that they need to remove the copyrighted content.
But you can take it further.
If the third party fails to comply with the notice within 14 days (number of days depend on the region), that’s when hammer comes down and a DMCA Takedown is authorized.
When a takedown is issued, the copyrighted content is forcibly removed from a host site. Sometimes, a whole website can be taken down until the content is removed and the site is allowed to come back online.
Here’s a link for steps to follow on how to write to a hosting company to notify them that your copyright material or content is on their hosting platform. Usually, this is enough for the company or web host to comply. If you have enough evidence that you are the originator of the content that was taken without your permission, most web hosting companies would oblige and take down the offender.
There are many other options for enforcing a takedown if the material is not removed but there are fees attached. But if you’re really eager, you can go ahead and pay for the stolen content to be removed as soon as possible.
I spend a lot of time writing pieces, editing, and make sure it has good content. If someone took my stuff and claimed it as their own, I would be thoroughly pissed.
The “copy and paste” culture is rampant. It’s not just individuals that do it. Even some media outlets have been caught doing it as well.
Simply put, ff your stuff you put on the internet gets used by someone else without your consent, kindly ask the site to take it down. If they don’t comply, serve their ISP host with a notice.
Don’t work too hard and get your stuff jacked. The internet can sometimes feel like the Wild West but there are protection options for content creators.