The Digital Millennium Copyright
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright
law that has changed the way that copyright violations are handled on the Internet. The law implements two World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties in order to criminalize
illegal production and dissemination of copyrighted material. The DMCA provides a safe harbor for online service providers that meet certain statutory standards. This safe harbor
exempts Internet service providers and other intermediaries from both direct and indirect liability if they meet certain factors under the law.
DMCA Safe Harbor
The DMCA takedown and safe harbor both come from the Online Copyright
Infringement Liability Limitation Act (“OCILLA”) section of the DMCA. The aim of this act is to balance the competing interests of copyright owners against digital users and online service
Due to the proliferation of the Internet, social media platforms, and
hosting websites, Internet service providers (ISPs) have increasingly become unwitting hosts of material that potentially infringes on another’s copyright. Popular websites that host forums, blogs,
or encourage user-submissions of content are all vulnerable to claims of infringement due to a general inability to regularly review user-submitted content.
DMCA Takedown Notice
The DMCA allows for copyright owners to send “DMCA takedown” notices to
online service providers in order to facilitate quick removal of copyrighted work from online websites. In order to send a proper DMCA takedown notice, copyright owners must follow statutory
procedure when sending notice of potentially infringing use. If a website hosts potentially infringing use, OCILLA exempts the online service provider from liability if it complies with the
takedown notice in an expeditious manner.
DMCA Counter Notice
If you are the victim of an unlawful DMCA Notice, you can file a counter
notice, which requires the person who filed against you to file a court case within a certain amount of time or the ISP must restore the allegedly infringing content. Filing a false DMCA Notice
can also subject the filer to damages and possible criminal prosecution.