Tools & Methods
A Takedown Digital joint.
- The risks are real
- The risks include exposure of personal information
- You can easily minimize the risks
Risk 1: Exposure of Personal Information
Any information you provide in a takedown notice could be:
- posted on public websites or in public databases (see Appendix B for examples)
- forwarded to the individual or organization your takedown notice is about. Having this information exposed on the web could make it easier for nefarious parties to harass or doxx you.
For some creators, even having their legal name posted online could pose risks to their privacy and safety. And a legal name is often a requirement of a takedown notice. Not only that, but using a fake name or a pseudonym could amount to perjury—a felony that can carry up to five years in prison.
Depending on context, publicizing someone’s private information against their wishes is often known as doxxing (a reference to releasing documents). When this happens, there are usually ways to reduce the damage and scrub some or all of your information from the web. See Doxxing.
It is not illegal for an organization to post a takedown notice online or share it with the party who distributed the unauthorized content. It’s better to avoid giving them your private information in the first place.
You can hire a third party to send takedown notices on your behalf. Just make sure the person or company you hire is informed, diligent, and follows the appropriate rules and procedures. Before you hire them, make sure they'll sign the notice with their own legal names, leaving your name out of it.
They should also use their or their business's:
- contact information
- mailing address
- phone number
- email address
- phone number
This creates a shield that keeps your private information away from whoever is on the other end of the takedown notice, including:
- the service provider
- the web host
- the registrar
- other criminals
Risk 2: Liability
Innocent or guilty, you have a lot to lose by merely being accused of wrongdoing. As you may know, the financial, emotional, and other burdens associated with court battles start to pile up quickly—even if you win the case in the end. Simply hiring skilled legal representation to argue your case in court could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars—which most of us can’t afford anyway—regardless of the final outcome. Even worse: if the court does decide against you, you could face prison time, additional court-assessed fines, probation, financial damages to the other party, and more.
Needless to say, you’d be well-advised to minimize that kind of risk as much as possible.
First, there’s the issue of legal liability. Providing false information in a takedown notice can amount to perjury—and perjury is a serious crime. In the United States, perjury is classified as a felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison, fines, probation, and possibly more. As mentioned previously, one easy way you can perjure yourself is by using a fake name in a takedown notice. But that’s not the only way; you can also be held liable for misusing a takedown notice, misrepresenting your copyrights, or providing other false or misleading information in your takedown notice.
Furthermore, your liability risk doesn’t stop with perjury. If you send an unlawful or otherwise invalid takedown notice that disrupts the recipient’s flow of business, you could be held liable for financial damages incurred by that party—and forced to compensate them with your own cash.
As discussed before, hiring a trusted third party to protect your work can mitigate much of the risk I’ve just outlined. Of course, a foolproof guarantee is never possible—but if you and your representative both act responsibly and in good faith when sending takedown notices, your risk is reduced accordingly. Be careful, honest, and accurate when seeking the removal of unauthorized content and the odds that you’ll experience negative repercussions become comparatively small.