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The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law which criminalizes production and dissemination of technology that can circumvent measures taken to protect copyright, not merely infringement of copyright itself, and heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet. Passed on May 14, 1998 by a unanimous vote in the United States Senate and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, the DMCA amended title 17 of the US Code to extend the reach of copyright, while limiting the liability of Online Providers from copyright infringement by their users.
(On May 22, 2001, the European Union passed the EU Copyright Directive or EUCD, similar in many ways to the DMCA.
DMCA Title I: WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties Implementation ActEdit
DMCA Title I, the WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act has two major portions, one of which includes works covered by several treaties in US copy prevention laws and gave the title its name and the other which is often known as the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions. The latter implemented a broad ban on the circumvention of copy prevention systems and required that all analogue video recorders have copy prevention built in.
DMCA Title II: Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation ActEdit
DMCA Title II, the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, creates a safe harbor for online service providers (OSPs, including ISPs) against copyright liability if they adhere to and qualify for certain prescribed safe harbor guidelines and promptly block access if they receive a notification from a copyright holder or their agent. It also includes a counter-notification which requires restoration of the material and a provision for subpoenas to identify alleged infringers.
DMCA Title III: Computer Maintenance Competition Assurance ActEdit
DMCA Title III modified section 117 of the copyright title so that those repairing computers could make certain temporary, limited copies while working on a computer.
DMCA Title IV: Miscellaneous ProvisionsEdit
DMCA Title IV contains an assortment of provisions:
- Clarified and added to the duties of the Copyright Office.
- Added ephemeral copy for broadcasters provisions, including certain statutory licenses.
- Added provisions to facilitate distance education.
- Added provisions to assist libraries with keeping copies of sound recordings.
- Added provisions relating to collective bargaining and the transfer of movie rights.
DMCA Title V: Vessel Hull Design Protection ActEdit
As useful articles whose form cannot be cleanly separated from their function, boat hull designs were formerly not protected under copyright law.
Reform and oppositionEdit
There are efforts in Congress to modify the Act. Rick Boucher, a Democratic congressman from Virginia, is leading one of these efforts by introducing the Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act (DMCRA).
A prominent bill related to the DMCA is the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA), known in early drafts as the Security Systems and Standards Certification Act (SSSCA). This bill, if it had passed, would have dealt with the devices used to access digital content and would have been even more restrictive than the DMCA.
Tim Berners-Lee wrote:
- The DMCA is anti-competitive. It gives copyright holders — and the technology companies that distribute their content — the legal power to create closed technology platforms and exclude competitors from interoperating with them. Worst of all, DRM technologies are clumsy and ineffective; they inconvenience legitimate users but do little to stop pirates. 
Example of DMCA Edit
An author notes that a company or individual infringed his or her copyright in publishing material without receiving their permission first, paying a fee or crediting the source of the information (plagiarism). If the author cannot find an arrangement with the offender he can address a DMCA to the provider hosting the user website. This text contains several items to respond to. It can be sent by fax, ordinary postal mail or even put on a website at the disposal of the provider. Not all providers accept receipt of the DMCA as scanned and signed images by email. Here is the template of the DMCA request that the author has to fill in and send to the alleged infringer:
DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT
1. Detailed identity of the copyrighted work that I believe has been infringed upon. This includes identification of the web page or specific posts, as opposed to entire sites. Posts must be referenced by either the dates in which they appear or the permalink of the post
>Include here the URL to the concerned material infringing your copyright (URL of a website or URL to a post, with title, date, name of the emitter), or link to initial post with sufficient data to find it back easily
2. Identity of the material that I claim is infringing upon the copyrighted work listed in item #1 above.
>Include here the name of the concerned litigeous material (all images or posts if relevant) with their complete reference
3. Location of the author copyright notice (for information).
>Include here the possible URL of the page in which you have list or give detail about your copyright. This information is optional as all work of the mind are by default protected by the Copyright Berne Convention
4. Information to permit our company, the provider, to contact you.
>Include here your email, fax or postal address to quickly get a feedback from the provider.
Reproduce the next statements:
I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above on the infringing web pages is not authorized by my registered copyright and by the law. I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner of an exclusive right that is infringed.
>Signature of the author
>Add your name here
In this context the DMCA doesn't require the complete postal address and private phone number of the author. Therefore, most companies don't list these two items in their policies (Google, Blogger) and only need an email of contact in respect with the spirit of the law.
Only a few companies require the author to mention his complete address and phone number (Go Daddy Software).
The postal address and phone number will only be required in cases of counter notification emitted by the offender or if the author initiates a legal proceeding.
- Text of the DMCA
- U.S. Copyright Office summary of the DMCA, (PDF format)
- U.S. Copyright Office homepage
- Title 17 of the U.S. Code, Cornell Law School
- Cybertelecom's DMCA information and background material
- Senate DMCA vote, by senator name, vote position, and home state (U.S. Senate roll call votes - 105th Congress - 2nd Session - Vote 137)
- Rep. Rick Boucher's website
- Anti-DMCA, a website that while is biased, has updates on DMCA lawsuits.
- DMCA threatens academic freedom from ZDNet
- DMCA should scare us all from ZDNet