Online content does not fall outside intellectual property protection. The controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act, passed in 1998, extends the reach of copyright law to protect digital technologies.
The DMCA was passed to address the business and commercial challenges of protecting intellectual property online and on digital technologies. Some claim that it favors the interests of copyrights owners.
But it also has safe-harbor provisions that help protect certain online participants. These shield online service providers from copyright infringement claims lodged against them because of the content posted by their customers or users. Providers usually include internet service providers, hosting providers, search engines and website operators.
Safe harbor protections
To take advantage of these protections, providers must employ notice and take down procedures that provide for the quick removal of content when providers receive a formally valid takedown notice from a copyright owner. Takedown notices may be issued for copying or reprinting protected work that did not appear as fair use such as reprinting complete articles or posts without permission.
While not legally required, providers can take steps to take advantage of safe harbor protections and avoid liability for copyright infringement. These three steps are:
- Assigning a copyright agent to receive takedown notices.
- Adopting an effective copyright infringement policy and provide it to users.
- Appropriate compliance with takedown notices that are received.
Receiving a takedown notice
Your content may also be targeted a DMCA takedown notice sent to another person. Examples include:
- A copyright owner may send a takedown notice to your hosting provider with the complaint that you posed copyright infringed material and requesting the provider remove or disable its access.
- A copyright owner may send a takedown notice to a video-hosting review service demanding that it takedown your uploaded video.
- Posting something in user comments on another blog or website may result in a takedown notice.
The DMCA has incentives for online services to providers, such as website operators and hosting services, for removing material when it receives an infringement complaint notice.
However, this law also allows the sending of a counter-notice to have your material posted again. This may result in a lawsuit from the copyright owner, so it is important to first assure that there is no infringement of the complaining party’s copyright.
Attorneys can assist intellectual property owners with protecting their property and making appropriate filings. They can also protect rights in infringement lawsuits or with takedown notices.