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Introduction to Research Methods: DMCA

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998)

The DMCA revised federal law to address some of the issues unique to balancing the interests of internet service providers and copyright owners when copyright infringement occurs in the digital world. This updated legislation helped conform U.S. law to the requirements of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and treaties that the United States signed in 1996. The DMCA has played a major role in the prosecution of digital piracy cases. The DMCA Act is divided into five titles.  

The first title implements two treaties from the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and includes the provisions that prevent circumvention.

* Prohibits the use of circumvention or decryption technology designed to gain access to a copyrighted work

* Prohibits the manufacturing and trafficking of any technology or service that is designed to circumvent a technological protection measure

* Prohibits the intentional removal or alteration the copyright management information contained on a copyrighted work (title of a work, the name of the author or copyright holder, and other identifying information from a copyrighted work)

* States that some selected activities based on the "fair use" doctrine (including reverse engineering, security testing, privacy protection and encryption research) under certain circumstances will not constitute illegal "anti-circumvention"

The second title addresses the liability of internet service providers.

* Exempts any Online Service Provider or carrier of digital information (including libraries) from copyright liability for copyright infringement because of the content of a transmission made by a user of the provider's or carrier's system (e.g., the user of a library computer system)

* Establishes a mechanism for a provider to avoid copyright infringement liability due to the storage of infringing information on an Online Service Provider's own computer system or the use of "information location tools" and hyperlinks, if the provider acts "expeditiously to remove or disable access to" infringing material identified in a formal notice by the copyright holder

The third title exempts copies of computer programs for computer maintenance.

* Allows computer repairers the ability to make temporary copies of software while working on the machine

The fourth title covers a number of miscellaneous copyright issues, including those related to education.

* Permits the library to make up to three digital preservation copies of an eligible copyrighted work. Permits the library to electronically "loan" those copies to other qualifying institutions

* Permits the library to preserve, including by digital means, a work which exists in a format that has become obsolete

The fifth title establishes the “Vessel Hull Design Protection Act.”

* It creates new standards for the design of vessel hulls (U.S. Copyright Office)

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