Copyright Self Help

Running Your Business

Finding your work on a website or publication without permission is a violation of copyright law. You can fight to have your work removed.

Unfortunately, it’s a wide misconception that work found on the internet is fair game for reposting. And then there are scammers who don’t care.

Copyright infringement is a serious breach that you can fight. Here’s how.

Does my copyright need to be registered first?

You do not need to have formally registered the item with the U.S. Copyright office in order to claim copyright infringement. Once something you write is set in final form, it’s copyrighted. Period.

If you’d like to cover all of your bases, you can register your work here. An online legal resource or an attorney can also help.

How can I get my copyrighted work removed?

First, send a friendly note requesting that your copyrighted materials be taken down. Be prepared to share evidence that the site owner does not have permission to use your work without permission or payment. The Copyright Alliance offers simple-to-understand explanations, including an extensive FAQ.

If the site owner doesn’t respond or refuses to take down your work, you can send a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) Notice. The Copyright Alliance offers videos and instructions on how to do this yourself, or you can hire an online legal resource or attorney to do it for you.

Sending notices by email is fine. So is sending a registered letter, if you have a snail-mail address for the website owner.

If there’s no email address for the site owner — a common problem — you can find it by doing a “whois” search at Use Google to find other sites and services that will perform this search as well.

While it’s a good idea to copy the hosting company, the host has no legal obligation to remove your material. That responsibility lies with the owner of the infringing website.

What if the website originates in another country?

Even though the DMCA references U.S. Law, it still applies to websites owned by entities in other countries.

What about Work Made for Hire (WMH) work?

If you find your WMH work used without permission, contact the company you contracted with to produce the work. By definition, any assignments created under WMH agreements belong to the company that hired you. That company can demand that the work be removed.

Payment Self Help

Even professional freelancers sometimes have to push clients, editors, and publishers for payment.

Learn more

Proactive Payment Strategies

We’ve all had to fight for payment at some point, but there are some steps you can take to keep your cash flow on track and payment problems to a minimum.

Learn more

Sample Letter of Agreement

If your client doesn’t provide a contract, you should offer a letter of agreement.

Learn more