Dealing With Copyright Infringers Online: Who to Send a Take-Down Request to and How to Find Them

Take-down request (DMCA complaint) is an efficient tool to deal with copyright infringement on the Internet, but before you can even submit your DMCA complaint, you need to know who you need to complain about and to whom.  

This information is usually obvious when you deal with infringement by a user on YouTube, Facebook or some other popular website. But when infringement occurs on a small obscure website, finding this information may present a challenge.  After all, there are many ways for an infringer to hide his identity.  Yet, even if you do not know the infringer’s identity, you can still remove the infringing content from the Internet if you know two things:
(1) Each website gets access to the Internet through an Internet Service Provider (“ISP”).   If you contact the responsible ISP with a DMCA complaint, you can close the Internet gate for the infringer, therefore effectively removing infringing content from the web and 
(2) You can determine the name and location of the responsible ISP relatively easily by utilizing a two-step method: you need to “ping” the website first, which will uncover the ISP’s IP address. Once you have that IP address, you can find out the name and physical location of the ISP, so that you can contact the ISP with your complaint.
“Ping” is an Internet technique which consists of sending a message to a specified web address and waiting for response.  If the targeted web address is valid, an automatic reply message will be sent by the website’s Internet Service Provider, disclosing the provider’s IP address.
Pinging the Website
Although the “ping” technique may sound like something only a computer geek can use, in reality it is rather simple. If you know how to use your mouse and the keyboard, you will be fine. 
There are many ways to utilize the ping technique, but if you are using Windows, the easiest way is probably to use the “Command Prompt” program on your computer.  Here is what you need to do:
1. Click on the START button in the bottom left corner of the screen and then click on the “Command Prompt” program:
2. Once you have accessed the “Command Prompt” program, a black window will open that looks like a DOS window (are you old enough to remember DOS?), with the command prompt line.  
In the command prompt line, type the word “ping” followed by the name of the target website (e.g.,”) and click the ENTER key:
Assuming you typed a valid website address, you should then see a series of reply messages, all showing the same IP address in the following format: XX.XXX.XXX.XXX.  This is the IP address of the Internet Service Provider for the website you just pinged. Write that IP address down. You will need it in about five seconds. In the meantime, here is how the reply messages looked after I had pinged YouTube:
Finding the identity and location of the Internet Service Provider
Once you know the ISP’s IP address, the rest is really easy.  Just go to the website, type the identified IP address into the provided field and click ENTER:
You should then see a page displaying the name and location (country and city) of the Internet Service Provider.  For example, these are the results for IP address (the IP address of the YouTube’s ISP we found above):
So we see that YouTube’s ISP is Google located in Mountain View, California. Makes sense, right?
Now you should be able to find out whom to send your DMCA complaint to.  Although you might still need to do a follow up search to find out the exact street address, fax number and other contact information of the ISP, that part is not more difficult than finding the Gangnam Style video on the Internet. After all, you know how to google, right?
© 2013 Sergiy M. Sivochek