The DMCA (Digital Media Copyright Act or Digital Millennium Copyright Act) was signed into law in 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton. The DMCA is a Federal copyright law meant to curb Internet piracy of digital media. The ‘Act’ is evolving and has affected major Internet companies such as Napster, Kazaa, and Limewire.
In essence, “the DMCA restricts the ability to make, sell, or distribute devices which circumvent (or get around) copyright protection. This means you are not allowed to make or use programs that allow users to get by any technical measures that control access to a copyrighted work.
It is illegal to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in a device or service which is primarily intended to circumvent copyright protection.
Under this Act, it is illegal for you to ‘crack’ commercial software, sell or distribute any software used for cracking commercial software, or make unauthorized copies of copyrighted DVDs and CDs.” [i]
File sharing and other copyrighted works (software, books, movies, etc.) are also affected by the DMCA, making it illegal to host, share or download copyrighted works.
The DMCA also has a ‘safe harbor’ provision that shields Internet service providers and website hosts (ISPs) from lawsuits providing they remove the copyrighted material after notification. Requesting removal of material requires a DMCA takedown form, available from most hosts. A sample version of a DMCA takedown notice is available from the University of Washington and other websites. Use Google to find other templates.
If you believe your copyrighted work is wrongfully taken by another individual or entity, you will need to find the site host or ISP and contact their legal department. Use Network Solutions or GoDaddy.com and enter the site name into the “whois” database to find the service provider.
Digital copyrights are a relatively new concept and constantly evolving. The global nature of the Internet adds a unique spin to copyright law, involving countries that don’t have established laws or in some cases, laws at all. The DMCA lays basic groundwork for digital law protection, but certainly does not cover all aspects of digital copyrights.
By Dion D Shaw
Dion D Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs
Homepreneurs. New Day. New Opportunity.
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