Recently a number of accounts that I follow on Instagram have had their content stolen and or duplicated.
Sometimes this is people trying to pass off other peoples work as their own, but when the original artists name and/or identity is duplicated there is only one reason for this: FRAUD.
The duplicate account is hoping to attract people thinking it is the legitimate artist. Why? Imagine your favourite artist that you’ve just followed suddenly messages you offering maybe a really cheap piece of art, or maybe they need some quick cash. What an opportunity to help out someone you admire, or buy some original artwork really cheaply. Except you’ve just given your money or details to a scammer.
But you don’t know that, and then you post angry messages all over social media about how artist XYZ is a scammer. Except they’re not. They probably don’t know anything about this other account until it’s too late.
Oh, you’re an artist and you’ve just found about an account impersonating you for some reason?
I guess you’ve already clicked on the little report icon and told whatever site it is that you’re being impersonated. You’ve also posted about it to your feed or your story, or reels, or whatever saying that whatever account it is is fake, and encourage your followers to report the account too.
And now you’re waiting right? I bet the infringing account has also blocked you too. Oooooh, frustrating.
There’s a much more efficient and brutal way of dealing with scam accounts pretending to be you. You use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). What the DMCA does is puts the legal responsibility of copyright infringement on the host company once it has been notified of infringing content.
What does that mean? It means that if they don’t do something about it (i.e. delete the content) then the hosting company is liable for any penalties under the DMCA. If they’re hosting your content without your permission (i.e. you didn’t upload it to the infringing account) then, in theory, you could sue the host company (Instagram, facebook, meta, tiktok, etc.) for damages.
The only caveat is that you must be reporting in good faith. Meaning that you are the rights holder/and or are authorised to pursue copyright enforcement. A quick litmus test to know if you can do this is ask yourself if you are responsible for the creation and publication of the work. If the answer is yes, then DMCA away.
Any company that is based in USA, so most social media companies, have to comply with DMCA take down requests and will usually have a DMCA compliance team. You can send physical or email DMCA take down requests to companies, but doing so is usually slower and requires a specific legal format than using the DMCA compliance form available on most social media sites.
You can find the DMCA take down form on most sites via the help section. Avoid using standard copyright claims when enforcing your copyright in regard to accounts impersonating you. You need those accounts gone as soon as possible so DMCA is the way to go.
If you’re having trouble finding the right thing in the help section then go to google and search for ‘DMCA’ followed by the hosting site name; e.g. DMCA Instagram.
Honestly though, you’d think that billion dollar companies would have better detection of infringing content. But that’s another blog post.