Digital Millennium Copyright Act

This two-part piece of legislation, enacted by President Clinton on October 28, 1998 has helped streamline the use and continued advancement of such newer technologies like the DVD and the Internet.  The main goal of the DMCA was to ensure continued protection of intellectual property rights while adjusting to the beginning of the digital age.

The two sections, dealing with Anti-circumvention and notice-and-takedown, both separately and together have allowed for many new business opportunities, most unrealized at the time.


The new anti-circumvention laws allowed Hollywood to embrace the new DVD technology without living in constant fear tat their works would be infringed on on a massive scale.  Studios were concerned that releasing their works on the new DVD format would not provide proper protection against circumvention.  The DMCA allowed for a new minimum standard of encryption on all DVDs and made it illegal for DVD owners to duplicate a DVD that a consumer has legally purchased.

While this new provision has lead to numerous advancements such as the Blue Ray and streaming online video stores, the anti-circumvention laws were not without drawbacks.  The anti-circumvention laws have extended beyond the scope of copyrights.  Suits have been filed citing the anti-circumvention provision regarding research into decrypting filters to see if the filter actually works.


The notice-and-takedown provision has allowed for the success of interactive websites like YouTube.  The provision allows for initial immunity of “intermediaries” like ISPs.  If a user of the site posts infringing material, the owner of the copyright must send a takedown notice to the ISP.  From there, it is the responsibility of the ISP to remove the material from the site.  However, if the ISP fails to remove the infringing material, their immunity is gone and the ISP can be held liable for infringement.  But, the ISP can restore the content if the user certifies that the content is non-infringing and the copyright owner does not sue.

The drawback to the notice-and-takedown provision is that is it frequently abused.  Numerous copyright owners have sent out takedown notices in massive quantities when anything pertaining to their works appears on these sites.  Owners are not checking to see if the content actually infringes on their rights or if the content constitutes fair use, leading to many back and forth lawsuits.

If you suspect copyright infringement, contact the attorneys at Marcus Stephen Harris, LLC by dialing (312) 263-0570. You may also send a note through the contact portal on the Marcus Stephen Harris, LLC website.