Legal Law

Basics for Navigating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”)

Due to the proliferation of the Internet, social networking platforms, and hosting websites, online service providers have often become unwitting hosts of materials that may infringe the copyrights of others. Similarly, original content creators have also increasingly become the target of unwarranted DMCA takedown requests. Sometimes these removal requests are made for anti-competitive or harassing purposes by competitors of the website operator.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides a safe haven in certain circumstances for website operators who host materials submitted by third parties that may infringe the copyrights of others. If the copyright owner provides a takedown notice in accordance with the DMCA requirements and the website operator timely complies with its obligations under the DMCA, it may be protected from liability for copyright infringement. The website operator may adopt and publish a copyright policy to facilitate compliance with the DMCA. Below is a sample copyright policy, which requests a takedown notice that includes at least the following information:

· A detailed description of the copyrighted work that you believe is being infringed;

A description of the location where the allegedly infringing content appears;

· Your contact information (including name, address, telephone number and email address);

A statement that you have a good faith belief that the claimed infringing use is not authorized by you as the copyright owner, its agent, or by law;

· A statement that, under penalty of perjury, the information in the notice is accurate and that you are authorized to act on the copyright owner’s behalf; and

An original signature of the copyright owner or someone authorized on the owner’s behalf to assert copyright infringement and to file the claim.

In addition to the policy, the website operator must register an agent with the United States Copyright Office.

While the above identifies a number of issues related to electronic commerce and Internet law that affect DMCA compliance, further analysis may be required. For example, the timeliness requirement for removal has been a hot topic of litigation of late. Additionally, the DMCA applies only to copyright and currently does not provide a safe harbor for trademark infringement or patent infringement claims. These types of claims arising from website users may be addressed in the website’s Terms of Use or other agreement between the website operator and its users.

For more information, you can contact a DMCA attorney with experience in DMCA compliance, copyright policies, and DMCA takedown notices.

Disclaimer: As with any discussion of legal topics, this article is intended to be educational only and does not replace legal advice, provide legal advice, or form an attorney-client relationship with the reader. Please seek legal advice before making any decision. Also, please note that this article may not be updated, so the law and circumstances may have changed at the time you read this article.

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