Report Copyright Infringement
Copyright infringement is everyone's business. And everyone does have an obligation to report it. But, because it is not like other crimes, such as violence, most people do not view copyright infractions as being illegal. Clearly, it hurts the people who own the copyrights, it hurts internet communities, and it hurts the people who use the materials shared by copyright holders. Copyright infringement is a major source of higher fees and added user fees; it causes people to hoard information as opposed to sharing; it creates a closed internet society; and it snatches the profits from the rightful owners. Because of the massive online destruction that violations cause, it is really important for everyone to report copyright infringement.
Certainly, there are many ways to report infringements either by copyright holders or users at large. All of the major search engines and higher profile websites have pages devoted to reporting copyright infractions. Type “report copyright infringement” into a search engine and the results will be overwhelming. In this case, though, so many returns are a good thing because it means that companies and organizations are taking IP crime seriously, and are trying to help improve the rights of others. For some sites such as social networking sites and places where photos and articles are shared, the owner of the copyright must file the complaint. In this case, when users see the problem, they should notify the owners.
Other ways to report copyright infringement is through internet service providers and hosting companies. By sending them DMCA notices, they are at least obligated to investigate the claims and remove the infringing material. Large non-profit organizations such as universities that permit faculty and students personal space on their servers also have an obligation to develop copyright infringement policies, and they must be easily available so that other users know how to report infractions. If, for example, students are giving out cracked copies of software, and using the school's server to promote the activities and/or make the applications available, everyone who sees the page should lodge a complaint. By keeping quiet, it ruins the privilege of having free server space for others.
Additionally, in the case of widespread copyright infringement such as counterfeiting music CDs and software, purchasers who have inadvertently bought the pieces believing them to be real should take the fakes to their local police stations and report the crime. Large scale operations can be brought down if enough people provide information in a timely manner. You might also consider contacting the FBI's Cyber Division, as the Bureau runs a program called the Intellectual Property (IP) Program of the Financial Institution Fraud Unit.
Many official state websites now have DMCA agents to whom one can report copyright infringement. The information must be received in written form either through regular post or fax. Emails are not accepted. Generally, the letter must include relevant, detailed information. Usually the site dictates the information that should be included, as well as a statement swearing the veracity of the claim, complete with a signature.
And if you believe that you have suffered serious financial loss or a degradation of your reputation by having your copyright infringed upon, then you may have a case to go to court. You might sue in a civil court, or you may have grounds to have the offending parties brought to justice through the criminal court system.
Lastly, one point that may not be clear is that the US Copyright Office is not a body of enforcement. It records copyrights and makes data available to the public, but it cannot make any determinations in regards to potential copyright infractions.