DMCA – Your Braindump Fighting Superhero
Written by Jamie Mulkey, Vice President, Client Services and Jen Baldwin, Senior Web Patrol Specialist
July 24, 2015
Do you wish you had a braindump site superhero? Someone who could leap tall buildings in a single bound and take down braindump sites effortlessly, in the blink of an eye, with superior strength and will?
Braindump sites are a huge problem today for nearly all high stakes testing programs. There are at least seven hundred braindump sites disclosing actual exam content, with new sites being created daily. A few major braindumps sites seem to be the focus of this activity with hundreds of second tier, affiliated braindump sites.
It’s frustrating (and expensive!) for testing organizations to spend the time, creativity, and resources developing test items only to have those items disclosed on the Internet within weeks (sometimes less than three!) of a test’s publication. The result is that undeserving test takers pass the exam by gaining pre-existing knowledge from the test content provided by these sites. Worse, this type of activity erodes at the validity of your exam and hurts your program’s reputation. And worst of all, your investment in developing high quality assessments is nullified. But, you already know that.
What you may not know is how effective a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notification can be in getting your copyrighted test content removed. Did you know…85% of all braindump sites will remove your exam content within 24 hours of receiving a DMCA notification? It’s true!
Many websites won’t remove content until you send a formal DMCA letter. In our experience at Caveon, we initially sent informal takedown requests to these nefarious sites. We were successful 40-50% of the time in having the content removed from the offending sites. However, we found that when we followed the DMCA requirements, our success increased dramatically.
Even websites based in other countries will comply and remove your test content if you ask them using the DMCA letter. They are not obligated to comply with US DMCA laws, but many sites do not want a legal battle, so they simply remove your content.
You may say, “Don’t I have to have my items registered by copyright before I can send the DMCA notification?” Actually, you don’t! Your content is covered by implied copyright because you authored the test questions (that said, we DO recommend that all high-stakes test programs register the copyright of their items and tests).
Giving one testing program as an example, after a diligent DMCA notification letter campaign, 99% of the braindump sites permanently removed their test content. New braindump sites that now pop-up do not even have this testing program’s list of exams for sale.
Rather than relying on radio-active spiders or exploding planets, here is how you can supercharge and empower your braindump superheroes:
- Obtain registered copyrights to your items and tests.
- In consultation with legal counsel, draft appropriate DMCA language to be sent to offending websites.
- Immediately, after finding a braindump site with stolen test content, send a DMCA notification to the contact email on its webpage, the registered owner of website, AND the host of website.
- If no response is received within 72 hours, send the DMCA notification again, and again… and perhaps one more time. The fourth time may be the charm. (Persistence pays off.)
By using this strategy of repeated DMCA notification delivery, you will succeed in getting your content removed 99% of the time and braindump sites will stop posting your content from the start and your program will be removed from the website’s vendor list.
Let’s ban together and stamp out braindump activity! Use the DMCA notification to supercharge your superheroes. They may not have x-ray vision, but their strength in language can cripple many a braindump criminal from ever posting your test content again.