Digital Millennium Copyright ActThe Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works. It also criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet. Passed on October 12, 1998 by a unanimous vote in the United States Senate and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 1998, the DMCA amended Title 17 of the United States Code to extend the reach of copyright, while limiting the liability of the providers of on-line services for copyright infringement by their users.
On May 22, 2001, the European Union passed the Copyright Directive or EUCD, which addresses some of the same issues as the DMCA. But the DMCA's principal innovation in the field of copyright, the exemption from direct and indirect liability of internet service providers and other intermediaries (Title II of the DMCA), was separately addressed, and largely followed, in Europe by means of the separate Electronic Commerce Directive. (Unlike U.S. federal laws and regulations, the execution of European Union directives usually requires separate legislation by or within each of the Union's member states.)
Notable court casesMPAA vs. RealNetworks Inc.
In August 2009, the Motion Picture Association of America won a lawsuit against RealNetworksARccOS Protection and RipGuard, as well as breaking Real's licensing agreement with the MPAA's Content Scrambling System. for violating copyright law in selling its RealDVD software, allowing users to copy DVDs and store them on a harddrive. The MPAA claimed that Real violated the DMCA by circumventing anti-piracy measures
Viacom Inc. vs. YouTube, Google Inc.
On March 13, 2007, Viacom filed a lawsuit against YouTube and its corporate parent Google for copyright infringement seeking more than $1 billion in damages. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Viacom claims the popular video-sharing site was engaging in “massive intentional copyright infringement” for making available a contended 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom’s entertainment programming. Google lawyers say they are relying on the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act to shield them from liability.On March 11, 2008 the judge ruled that Viacom cannot seek punitive damages against YouTube. Massive statutory damages, however, remain on the table. Viacom's case against Google, which is being run in conjunction with a separate class action filed by the Premier League and several music publishers, is unlikely to go to trial until 2009 or 2010.
IO Group Inc. vs. Veoh Networks Inc.
On June 23, 2006 IO Group, Inc. filed a complaint against Veoh Networks, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for California's Northern District. IO Group alleged that Veoh was responsible for copyright infringement by allowing videos owned by Io Group to be accessed through Veoh’s online service without permission over 40,000 times between the dates June 1 and June 22.Veoh is a Flash video site relying on user contributed content. IO Group argued that since Veoh transcoded user uploaded videos to Flash format it became a direct infringer and the materials were under their direct control, thereby disqualifying them for DMCA safe harbor protection. The ruling judge disagreed with the argument stating that "Veoh has simply established a system whereby software automatically processes user-submitted content and recasts it in a format that is readily accessible to its users. Veoh preselects the software parameters for the process from a range of default values set by the thirdparty software... But Veoh does not itself actively participate or supervise the uploading of files. Nor does it preview or select the files before the upload is completed. Instead, video files are uploaded through an automated process which is initiated entirely at the volition of Veoh's users." The Court has granted the Veoh’s motion for summary judgment, on the basis of the DMCA, holding that the defendant's video-sharing web site complied and was entitled to the protection of the statute's "safe harbor" provision.
Vernor v. AutoDesk
After numerous stifling DMCA takedown notices on his eBay listings Timothy S. Vernor sued AutoDesk in August 2007 for abusing the DMCA and disrupting his right to sell used software he bought at a garage sale. A federal district judge in Washington State dismissed AutoDesk's argument that the software's license agreement preempted the seller from his rights under the first-sale doctrine.
The DMCA has been criticized for forcing all producers of analog video equipment to support the proprietary copy protection technology of Macrovision, a commercial firm. The producers of video equipment are forced by law to support the Macrovision technology to the financial benefit of Macrovision whereas those who build the video equipment get nothing in compensation.
The DMCA has been criticized for making it too easy for copyright owners to encourage website owners to take down allegedly infringing content and links which may in fact not be infringing. When website owners receive a takedown notice it is in their interest not to challenge it, even if it is not clear if infringement is taking place, because if the potentially infringing content is taken down the website will not be held liable. The Electronic Frontier Foundation senior IP attorney Fred von Lohmann has said this is one of the problems with the DMCA.
Google asserted misuse of the DMCA in a filing concerning New Zealand's copyright act,quoting results from a 2005 study by Californian academics Laura Quilter and Jennifer Urban based on data from the Chilling Effects clearinghouse. Takedown notices targeting a competing business made up over half (57%) of the notices Google has received, the company said, and more than one-third (37%), "were not valid copyright claims."
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