Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed on October 28, 1998, to address the circumvention of technical locks on copyrighted digital products. When copyrighted materials are in a digital format, such as DVD movies or software, they can be reproduced and manipulated quickly, easily, and in mass quantities. To protect these kinds of works from illegal reproduction, copyright owners often implement digital or technical protection devices such as encryption, passwords, or digital watermarks, but copyright infringers may still be able to circumvent these measures. The DMCA is an attempt to legally enforce digital protection systems.
Provisions of the DMCA
1) No circumventing digital protections
The first provision of the DMCA prohibits defeating the access control measure that protects or limits access to digital information. Defeating the access control measure, or "circumventing a technological measure," means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure without the authority of the copyright owner. Access control measures are found in many digital items such as DVDs, video games, or computer games.
2) No distribution of devices that circumvent digital protections
The second provision bans trafficking in devices that circumvent access controls. In order for an individual to defeat an access control measure he or she can create software that will allow unauthorized access to the copyrighted information. Use of the program violates the first provision above, and the sale or distribution of this computer program is unlawful as well.
3) No selling anti-security tools
The third provision bans trafficking in technology that circumvents technological measures which are aimed at limiting the ability to reproduce a copyrighted work. An example of this kind of technological protection is an encoding technique that prevents a music CD from being played and therefore copied on a computer.
4) Removing copyright management information is forbidden
The fourth provision bans the alteration of copyright management information or providing false copyright management information. Copyright management information is information conveyed in connection with a copyrighted work for the purposes of identifying its origin; such information could include the title, author, name of the copyright owner, terms and conditions for use of the work, and identifying numbers or symbols referring to the above information. This does not include information about the user of a work or a copy of the work. The copyright management information is like serial numbers on commercial products such as computers or cars. This provision prevents a user from altering this information prior to passing the copyrighted materials on to others.
5) Safe harbors from liability for Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
The fifth and last provision of the DMCA is designed to protect service providers, allowing ISPs or online service providers to escape liability for the actions of its users so long as they did not know or have reason to know that their users were violating a copyright holder's rights.
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