Basically, this act is used to enforce copyright laws concerning software and prohibit certain acts of software piracy.

What Are Some of the Specific Provisions of this Act?

Some of the specific provisions covered in this Act are:

  • Prohibits the making and sale (or even giving away for free) of code-cracking items used to illegally copy software
  • Prohibits any methods that are used to get around anti-piracy measures built into commercial software, except when used by nonprofit libraries, archives, schools and universities under certain circumstances
  • Internet service providers generally cannot be held liable for copyright infringement when they are simply transmitting information.  However, if an ISP comes across material on a website this is considered copyright infringement, the ISP is required to have material removed
  • Webcasters must pay licensing fees to record companies
  • Service providers are required to have a policy permanently banning repeat offenders from the network

Are There Any Defenses If I Am Accused of Violating the DMCA?

As mentioned above, there are specific exemptions for service providers and educational purposes. In addition, certain types of material cannot be copyrighted. Intellectual property which is mainly facts, procedures, concepts, or which constitutes a “discovery” of the natural world cannot be copyrighted. Examples include: recipes, history, and popular creative tropes, like masked superheroes.

Beyond those exemptions, there are specific procedural steps that must be taken before a copyright violation can be brought to court under the DMCA. The act requires that copyright holders give service providers prior notice before going to court. In turn, service providers are required to provide notice to website owners after their website has been taken down. The notice provided by the copyright holder and the service provider must describe exactly what material is copyrighted. If there is a lot of copyrighted material on the website, then a “substantial amount” of the material must be named.

Those who have had their property (websites, blogs, etc.) removed from the internet have the right to sue the alleged copyright holder to challenge their claim that the website had copyrighted material. If the website owner wins, the website will be restored.

What Should I Do if I Have Been Accused of Violating this Law?

If you are found violating this Act, the aggrieved party may bring a civil lawsuit against you and you could be liable for not only loss of profits to the aggrieved party, but may also have to pay statutory damages, which could amount to as much as $2,500 per act that was in violation of this law.

If you have accused of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act you should consult an attorney who has experience in cyberspace law. Your entertainment attorney will be able to advise you of your rights and let you know of any potential defenses you may have, as well as help you decide what the best course of action to take is.