US Internet Law/DMCA

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) (17 U.S.C. §§ 117, 512, 1201 et. seq.). Enacted in 1998, and codified as amendments to the Copyright Act, the DMCA addressed a number of computer-related issues:

Implements two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties: The WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

Notice and Take-Down Provisions (17 U.S.C. § 512): Provides a “safe harbor” to Internet service providers (“ISPs,” a broadly defined term that includes most website operators). ISPs are protected from claims of copyright infringement arising from the posting of copyrighted materials on websites if they reasonably implement and inform users of the ISP’s policy that provides for the identification and termination of infringing material.

(Note: The ISP must act to remove the infringing works or it may be liable for any resulting damages.)

Anti-hacking provisions (17 U.S.C. § 1201, et. seq.): Prohibits circumvention of technological measures that effectively control access to a copyrighted work as well as prohibits the manufacture, production, trafficking in or offering of any technology, product, service or device that is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a copyrighted work.

Maintenance and repair provision (17 U.S.C. § 117): Expands Section 117 of the Copyright Act to authorize an owner of a copy of a computer program to make a copy of the program so long as the copy is made as an essential step in the utilization of the program or for purposes of maintenance or repair.