What if the website refuses to comply with the DMCA takedown notice?

Even though websites have strong incentives to comply with valid DMCA takedown notices, sometimes they won’t, and you may need to escalate your efforts to get them to comply. We recommend contacting a lawyer for advice if this occurs.

Even if a website refuses to take down content, you can ask search engines to de-index the work. To understand how search companies de-index content, and why you still need to deal directly with websites, it’s helpful to understand how search works. See Matt Cutts, How Search Works, Youtube (uploaded by Google on Mar. 4, 2010), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHR6IQJGZs. As that video explains, “[w]hen you do a Google search, you aren’t actually searching the web. You’re searching Google’s index of the web. Or, at least as much of it as we can find.” So, for example, when you go online and run a search for someone’s name, the search results that appear on your screen are just an index of potentially relevant websites. It’s like how libraries used to use an index card system to help visitors locate books in the library. Shredding a library’s index card (de-indexing something from a search company) will make the book (the webpage) very difficult to find unless you know exactly where it is located in the library (have a direct URL). But, the book is still in the library, which is one reason why we recommend contacting the website first. The other reason is that search engines update their indexes, so if you can get the book removed from the shelf in the first place, there is generally no need to send a DMCA notice to the search engine.

  • The easiest way to submit a DMCA notice to Google is to use their online webform. DMCA instructions and a link to that webform are available here.

  • If the content is a nude or sexually explicit photo or video of you that’s been shared without your consent, you may not need to use the DMCA to de-index the content from Search, because Google Search and Microsoft Bing Search don’t tolerate that type of content as company policy. Many reputable social media companies will take it down too. See Using Company Policy to Take Down Nonconsensual Porn.