What Is DMCA and What Does It Mean?

Experiencing DMCA deletion? This is what DMCA notices mean to you and your website.

If you’ve ever spent any time online, you’ve probably come across the acronym DMCA. Perhaps, you have even removed some of your content due to a DMCA claim. So, what is a DMCA, and what does DMCA stand for?

What is a DMCA?

DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. True to its name, it was created around the turn of the last millennium. Specifically, the law was enacted in 1998. The DMCA is an American law that criminalizes the unauthorized use of copyrighted material.

Even though it’s an American law, the DMCA has far-reaching implications. This is because although websites can be accessed globally, they are bound by the laws of the country where their servers are located. For example, YouTube’s servers are located in the US. So even if you are Indonesian, any content you upload to YouTube is governed by US law, not Indonesian law.

DMCA was created to prevent piracy. In the late 90s, new technologies, such as the internet, made content piracy even easier. If you’re old enough to remember things like Napster or Limewire, you know how easy it is! This worries the media industry that there are not enough laws to protect their industry from piracy.

Once the DMCA was enacted, it gave individuals and companies a way to protect their content. If a content creator sees their work being used illegally on a website hosted on an American server, they can file a DMCA claim. DMCA claims require the server hosting the content to remove or disable access to the content.

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DMCA applies to a wide range of content, including:

  • Written text
  • Photos
  • Artwork
  • Music
  • Videos
  • Software/Applications

What is DMCA Notification?

Example:DMCA Notice

A person accused of copyright infringement receives a DMCA Notice. The DMCA notice will record what content was claimed and who claimed the infringement.

If you receive a DMCA notice, it is very important to think about whether you are using the content lawfully. If not, delete the content immediately. Generally, removing content will resolve the DMCA violation. However, content creators reserve the right to sue for damages. So, receiving DMCA notices should not be taken lightly.

If you believe that you are not using the content unlawfully, you can submit a counter notification. Unfortunately, the DMCA is sometimes abused and left to people who don’t violate the DMCA. In this situation, counterclaims allow the defendant to defend himself. However, the content must still be removed until the dispute is resolved.

The complainant has 14 days to stop pursuing the takedown request or file a lawsuit. Therefore, filing a counterclaim is risky and should be considered carefully.

Can You Legally Use Content?

Despite all these rules, you’ll see people borrowing content from people all the time. Why is it still allowed? You can use copyrighted material under fair use. Fair use includes:

  • News Reporting
  • Comments
  • Research
  • Criticism
  • Scholarship
  • Parody
  • Teaching

The purpose of the fair use exception is to balance the need to protect content creators with the public’s interest in building and responding to content created. However, fair use does complicate matters a bit. It is difficult to determine whether the content is being used fairly. Four factors are used to assess whether content is fair use.

1. Content Purpose

Using content in fair use requires that you turn it into something different from the original creation. The purpose of the new content must be different from the original content.

For example, Screen Junkies used clips from films to create its “Honest Footage” series. If they only post movie clips, it’s not fair use. But they created something completely new. The purpose of making a video is to comment on the quality of the film. That is very different from the purpose of making a film, which is storytelling.

2. Content Type

Facts and ideas cannot be copyrighted. This exception is to ensure that important ideas and information are always publicly available. Indeed, this exception allows for some questionable decisions.

For example, if you’re writing the classic Gremlins, you can’t stop someone from using the same premise to make Critters. If the script dialog is different, it falls under fair use. On the other hand, would you like Akira Kurosawa to be able to write a Star Wars production?

3. Amount of Content Used

The amount of content you borrow is also a factor. You are only allowed to use as much content as you need to accomplish your goals. Going back to the previous Screen Junkies example, the video only uses movie clips that highlight their point. If they play a 15-minute film to mock a scene, their video may no longer qualify as fair use.

4. Damage Caused

It’s unfair to interfere with the original creator’s ability to take advantage of their creation. If you use their content to create something that can be used in place of the original creation, it will fall into this category.

For example, if someone posts informational content on YouTube, you cannot edit that content into a summary and then repost it. You will steal the original creator’s YouTube views.

This does not cover the detrimental benefits of negative product reviews. It will be criticized, which is considered fair use.

DMCA at a glance

DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It was created in the late 90’s to address new technologies that made piracy easier. This protects the creator from a variety of different artistic media. The goal is to stop the unfair use of content. Fair use still allows people to use content to create new content if it turns the final product into something new that adds value to the public.

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