🚨 Issue One: Risks
Don't doxx yourself
💡 TL;DR Sending your own takedown notice—instead of hiring a specialist—may expose you to liability and put your personal information at risk. Hiring someone else is a better option.
We’re starting with risks so that you don’t jump into the takedown process without knowing the potential repercussions—some of which are serious. So before you go on, read this chapter first to be sure you know:
the risks are real
what the risks are
how to minimize the risks
If you’re already aware of the risks involved in sending takedown notices, feel free to skip this chapter. But if you’re not 100% certain that you already know the risks—and how to minimize them—I strongly recommend that you take the time to read this chapter before sending a takedown notice—or outsourcing one to a third party.
🔏 Risk 1: Exposure of Personal Information
🧩 The Problem
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 that uploaded your stolen content in the first place Having this information exposed on the web could make it easier for nefarious parties to harass you—or worse.
For some creators, even having their legal name posted online could pose serious problems 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). While that’s difficult and sometimes impossible to fully resolve, it’s generally recognized as a violation of privacy and an act of hostility. As such, there are measures one can take to mitigate the damage and scrub their private information from the web.
But this is a different animal. It’s entirely legal for an organization to post a takedown notice online or share it with the party who distributed the unauthorized content. In fact, there are organizations who specialize in doing exactly that. They will sometimes cooperate with requests to redact some limited personal information such as your legal name, but they’re technically not obligated to do so. And sometimes, they simply won’t. Because of that, it’s better to avoid giving them your private information in the first place.
🧠 The Solution
You can hire a third party to send takedown notices on your behalf. This is perfectly legal, as long as the person or company you hire is informed, diligent, and follows the appropriate rules and procedures. In general, they’ll also sign the notice with their own legal names, leaving your name out of it entirely when possible. In addition, they can and should use their own contact information, street address, phone number, email address, and so on. In effect, their information serves as a shield or buffer between you and the public—and the pirates stealing your content.
Some individuals will use a pseudonym when sending a takedown notice. This is often effective, but the legality of this approach is unclear at times. Because of this legal ambiguity, I would caution against using a pseudonym—otherwise you run the risk of exposing yourself to legal liability.
⚖️ 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.
🧩 The Problem
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.
🧠 The Solution
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. That may sound theoretical or abstract, but it’s not; for a real-world example, you can look to my company. We’ve served tens of thousands of takedown notices and never once have we been taken to court. That’s not by luck; it’s because we’re careful and we know what we’re doing.
The next issue of The Takedown will provide details about hiring an authorized representative.
Check out our free community resources at The Takedown Kit.