The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a United States copyright law that implements two World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties in order to criminalize illegal production and dissemination of copyrighted material. Moreover, whether or not there has been actual infringement of a copyright, the DMCA makes it illegal to circumvent an access control that has been put in place to protect a copyright. Notably, the DMCA also provides a safe harbor for online service providers that meet certain statutory standards. The DMCA takedown notice and safe harbor are considered to be two of the principal innovations of the DMCA. Specifically, the 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 are both borne out of the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (“OCILLA”) section of the DMCA. The aim of OCILLA is to balance the competing interests of copyright owners against digital users and online service providers.

Due to the proliferation of the Internet, social media platforms, and hosting websites, online service providers 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 Letter

As such, OCILLA allows for copyright owners to send “DMCA takedowns” to online service providers in order to facilitate quick removal of copyrighted work from online websites. In order to send a proper DMCA takedown letter, 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.

We can assist copyright owners and online service providers alike in claims of copyright infringement as well as compliance with the DMCA and DMCA takedown letters.

As an internet and eCommerce law firm, our internet and eCommerce attorneys can assist with advising on DMCA compliance legal issues. See our Internet & eCommerce service line page for additional information about DMCA compliance legal services.