The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) was established to protect all original/copyrighted works created by individuals. Such works range from musical material to videos and published content. This law was signed by Bill Clinton more than two decades ago, making it relatively outdated for today’s internet-savvy society.
The DCMA lays out stern punishments for persons who contravene this law. However, it exempts certain parties from retributions. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are not held responsible for online copyright infringements committed by their users. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are also immune from any liabilities caused by their users’ viewing, publishing and uploading habits.
What Exactly is DMCA?
The DMCA basically stipulates how people should handle copyright material. For instance, it prohibits the production and distribution of any software, service or device that intentionally sidesteps digital rights management (DRM) access control measures. If you purposefully circumvent any laid-out process that is designed to control the access of copyright material, you automatically break the DMVA law regardless of whether you’ve infringed a certain copyright or not. You can learn more about DMCA and its evolution at DMCAAgentService.com – a revered DMCA website.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was initially designed to protect online publishers, content producers and other professionals working in the digital creative space. However, congress passed this act into law in October 1998, a time when popular social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube had not been launched. The internet was still in infancy and not many people had access to it. The DMCA has five titles (parts) in total, each of which addresses different copyright protection issues. This law also has a “Safe Harbor” provision that protects website owners, app developers and other service providers from any liability that ensues when the content uploaded by an individual is flagged off for copyright infringement.
Will the DMCA be amended by Congress?
The DMCA has borne the brunt of huge criticisms from internet advocates and copyright holders globally. On one hand, internet advocates believe that all online content should be labeled free for use, eliminating any need for copyright protection laws. On the other hand, copyright holders claim that the DCMA is ineffective because content can always be republished on multiple sites. In addition, it’s virtually impossible to search millions of webpages online in search of copyright infringements.
Currently, the positions held by DMCA critics are not viable, which creates an impasse in terms of DMCA law amendment. However, there has been some progress in the enforcement of copyright protection in Mexico, Canada and the United States. Early this year, President Trump signed the USMCA copyright agreement into law, providing a protracted “safe harbor” for digital platforms and ISPs whose users constantly upload content that may be copyrighted.
Apart from DMCA, an alternative copyright law was enacted by the European Union. It’s known as the Copyright Directive and it differs significantly from the DMCA because it requires companies to filter any copyright infringing content from their platforms.
Which regulation will come out on top? We’ll have to wait and see.