What is DMCA?

Last modified: November 30, 2020
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The DMCA is short for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It is a US copyright law, signed by President Clinton in 1998, that implements the two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization treaties (WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty) and criminalizes the distribution of copyright-protected material. 

Although an American law, it does not refer to the US only, but also sets the rights and obligations of copyright owners, online service providers and internet users all around the world.

This is how the DMCA is influencing 3 main categories of users. 

-> As a copyright owner, DMCA protects you from infringement by allowing you to ask website administrators to remove infringing material quickly without having to refer to court. 

The practical applications of this are the well known, take down notices. A take down notice is a formal request to anyone who is using your work without your permission to take it down. Whether it is a search engine, a host of content, or really anyone who publishes unauthorised work, they have to comply with the take it down notice and remove the requested content. 

->As a service provider, whose users may post or distribute infringing content on your platform, the DMCA provides a “safe harbour” from prosecution. You only have to promptly remove the infringing material, implementing certain notice or takedown procedures.

This is where all social media base their Terms & Conditions when it comes to user generated content. 

-> As an internet user the DMCA gives you the opportunity to restore content that was taken down in error.

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