Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a 1998 legislation enacted by the Congress to modernize United States’ copyright law at par with the digital age and to put into effect the obligatory WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, 1996.

Title 17 of the U.S. code was amended with the aim to criminalize circumvention of anti-piracy digital rights management measures of making, selling or distribution of any software that may evade the access control of copyrighted digital materials.The act is categorized into five different Titles wherein the 1st title deals with the implementation of WIPO treaty and attaching liability with even unintended circumvention. The 2nd title deals with the Online Copyright Liability Infringement Act which gives the Internet Service Providers a ‘safe harbour’ as used in the act, provided that ISPs block access to infringed material after receiving a proper Take Down notice from the owner of the copyright. The other three titles contain, exceptions in case of computer maintenance, misc. provisions and vessel hull design protection act respectively.

The valuation of Copyright industry in U.S alone was USD 91 billion last year and digital piracy industry is expected to grow USD up to 205 billion by 2018 globally. Fortunately enough,current law is that if you have created something online that is copyrighted and someone infringes it without your authorization, you can enforce your rights formally by a take-down notice and if that doesn’t help, you can move to any court under federal law. Various international conventions such as Berne Convention or World Copyright Treaty, 1996 can be enforced to provide the copyright owners technological measures of protection and make infringers of digital rights management systems liable.

The 17 U.S. Code § 512 provides the owner or legal representative the right to send a take-down notice to the ISP with a detailed explanation of the material infringed. The ISPs will have no liability as long as they abide by the procedures and provide swift action to remedy the infringement. The development of Digital copyright law has seen the debate of free information versus rights of the artists and creators. Take down notice system serves as the fulcrum which very logically balances both the aspects. The copyright owner may use it to take down the infringed material and secure his earnings by protecting it. In the other aspect, it has given back the freedom to online service providers which can thrive on user generated content as they’ll have no liability to it as long as they adhere to the requirements under DMCA with respect to the Take Downnotice.

Additionally, various ISPs like Google providing free user created content are the source of research and education of vast section of the society. Spirit of free information, which was almost depleted by the digital rights management nonetheless has been somehow replenished by this system.

In the case of Viacom Inc. v. Youtube, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the parent company Google seeking copyright infringement of over a million clips being played unauthorized. The defendant claimed the ‘safe harbour’ doctrine to which the court also held that it is the users of the site who infringe copyright and not the service provider. There was another case of Lenz v. Universal Music group where the District court ruled that copyright owner cannot order a take-down notice without analysing the fair use standards and other requirements.

In case you find anyone infringing your intellectual property online and you want to formally take it down, you better consult an expert on this field. An expert would be of help in numerous ways which can’t be foreseen by any average citizen. For example, the take-down notice doesn’t always wipe out your content, the ISP rather backs it up till the dispute resolves. In some occasions, the infringer might file a counter notification stating exemptions or reasons not to take down and then you’ll need an expert to guide you through the dispute resolution process in courts. Our experienced IP attorney will be able to assist you with the notices or any other Intellectual Property matter. Please contact us at info@ilexlaw.com