In our last post, we talked about copyright law and some of the common questions that envelop this important aspect of intellectual property law. We will continue this conversation today by discussing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a law that has been in place since 1998.

Obviously, before the internet existed there was no fear of someone taking your original work of authorship and spreading it like wildfire across an interconnected web of computers that span the globe. But today, that fear is very real. As such, lawmakers passed the DMCA to protect copyright holders in situations where their copyrighted work was pilfered and used over the internet without their permission, or that otherwise infringes upon their copyright.

The DMCA can function under two circumstances when infringement is alleged. The first is under safe harbor laws. This is where an owner of copyrighted material can serve a “takedown” notice to an internet service provider to have any material that infringes upon the copyright removed. The alleged infringing party does have legal recourse to this and can file a counter-claim to the takedown notice.

The other circumstance under the DMCA is anti-circumvention laws. Manufacturers go to great lengths to prevent the piracy or theft of their original works by devices or other means. So, when someone tries to illegally copy a TV show, DVD, or a likewise product using these devices, they run afoul of anti-circumvention laws. It is unlawful to create or use such devices, and the DMCA protects copyright holders in this regard.