Facts about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act affects everyone’s internet browsing experience, and therefore it helps to understand it completely.

Those in Michigan who spend any amount of time on the internet are probably familiar with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. It has been around since 1998, and is considered a type of digital rights management law. It exists to extend copyright laws to cover the unique challenges posed by digital material. Whether someone is creating content that they don't want to be stolen, or someone is not sure if their use of someone else's content is considered stealing or plagiarism, it is very helpful to know some basic facts about the DMCA.

What is a safe harbor?

The intention of safe harbors which are provided in section 512 of the DMCA is to facilitate free expression and allow innovation to take place in the Internet. If a user feels something has been improperly taken down, they are given the right to challenge this. Content that appears to be infringing can easily be taken down by copyright holders, thanks to the "notice and takedown" procedures required of service providers.

What are anti-circumvention provisions?

Thanks to anti-circumvention provisions, a lawsuit can be levied against anyone who attempts to create the tools to help them get around the digital rights management locks that protect non infringing fair uses. Anyone who tries to use or copy material without going through the locks is considered a pirate. It is this kind of piracy that is discouraged by the ant-circumvention provisions.

Are there exceptions to anti-circumvention provisions?

There are in fact a few different types of circumvention that are not to be prosecuted by the DMCA law. The following list describes all six exceptions:

· If authorized by a network or computer's owner, technology used for circumvention may be used for purposes of testing security.

· If someone's personally identifiable information can be released or collected by a work or by a technological measure, either may be circumvented.

· Preventing minors from accessing certain material can be prohibited by a court.

· In order to identify in encryption technologies certain vulnerable aspects or other flaws, researchers can circumvent access control measures.

· When reverse-engineering for interoperability purposes between programs, as long as it is done means of a legally obtained right, an exception is granted.

· When deciding if they will want to gain authorized access to certain work, educational institutions, archives, and nonprofit libraries are given an exceptions.

Aside from their summarizations, there are specific conditions for the application of each of the exceptions listed above.

Those in Michigan who wish to protect their intellectual property or who are not sure how to navigate the laws of copyright in a digital setting may find it helpful to seek the advice of a lawyer in the local area who practices business and commercial law.