A citizen's legal guide to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA)

In addition to our guide below, you can contact New Media Rights for 1-to-1 assistance regarding questions about the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).  If you have received a letter referencing the DMCA or a cease and desist letter, contact us and we may be able to provide free assistance to help you understand your rights and respond.

Contact us using our contact form, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.  We have helped many individuals and organizations respond to DMCA takedown notices and cease and desist letters.DMCA pic

The DMCA has many layers, but was crafted to govern copyrighted content in a digital world.  It was adopted at the time of a realization in the mid 1990's that the Internet held the potential to transform the existing, centralized mass media "industry." The Internet provided a new avenue for the decentralized sharing of ideas and culture.

A number of large media companies were concerned that the Internet and new media threatened their business models, and much of the DMCA can be defined as an attempt by the industry to get legislation passed to protect itself. 

The provisions of the DMCA affect your rights and responsibilities on the Internet.  If you want to know your rights regarding 1) bypassing or breaking encryption technologies, 2) posting and removal of your own content on social media websites, as well as 3) your rights as a host of content submitted by users (ie as a blogger, website, or social media service operator), learning about the DMCA can help you.

Amongst its various provisions, the DMCA has important safe harbors built in that protect both IAPs (Internet Access Providers such as Comcast, AT&T, Verizon) as well as online service providers, such as social media websites (Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Flickr) and webhosting services, from liability for secondary liability for copyright infringement.  Essentially this means that social media services and webhosts can avoid liability for user generated content (UGC) their users upload if they follow certain requirements.

Understanding the DMCA is important when you use new media, because it was specifically crafted to govern content in a digital world.  Take a few minutes and learn about the DMCA, and feel free to contact us with any questions.

It is a critical piece of understanding

1. Your rights regarding technologies used to protect access to copyrighted content (ie Digital Rights Management(DRM), encryption technologies used to protect movies, music, tv shows, etc.)

2. Your rights when you publish content on any website, including your own, and the online service provider (ie youtube, myspace, flickr, etc) or your web hosting service (ie Laughing Squid, GoDaddy, Site5, etc).

3. Your rights when you allow others to publish content on your website/service, particularly liability and safe harbors for hosting copyright infringing content on your website (in other words, if you have any kind of interactivity, ie you allow comments on your blog or podcast, or allow visitors to post any text, video, audio or other type of media, you could be an "online service provider in the eyes of the law, and this discussion is relevant to you).

“THE DMCA” by Flikr user urlesque used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license

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