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Decoding DMCA: Navigating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

By January 24, 2024No Comments

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that was enacted in 1998. It’s purpose is to address the challenges posed to copyright owners, content creators, and online service providers by digital technologies. The DMCA consists of five main titles, each addressing different aspects related to copyright protection and digital technologies. Here’s a brief overview of the key provisions:

Title I – WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act 

This section implements the obligations of the United States under the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

Title II – Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA)

This section offers a safe harbor for online service providers (OSPs) such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter/X from copyright infringement liability arising from the actions of their users. OSPs must adhere to specific procedures outlined in the DMCA, including promptly removing infringing content upon receipt of a valid takedown notice from a copyright owner.

Title III – Computer Maintenance Competition Assurance Act

Here, issues related to computer maintenance activities and the circumvention of technological protection measures are addressed.

Title IV – Miscellaneous Provision 

This section contains various miscellaneous provisions, including provisions related to the use of certain works for distance education, the effect of the DMCA on other laws, and database protection.

Title V – Vessel Hull Design Protection Act 

Title V offers protection for vessel hull designs. One of the most recognized aspects of the DMCA is the safe harbor provision in Title II, shielding online service providers from liability for copyright infringement committed by their users if they meet certain conditions. The DMCA also introduced the concept of notice and takedown, enabling copyright owners to request the removal of infringing content from online platforms.

By far the most used aspect of the DMCA is that it is the framework by which copyright holders can notify online service providers that their sites are hosting or providing access to allegedly infringing material. See Na’l Acad. of Television Arts & Scis., Inc. v. Multimedia Sys. Design, Inc., 551 F. Supp. 3d 408, 432 (S.D.N.Y. 2021).

Those reporting infringing activity have to be careful because the DMCA prohibits “any person” from “knowingly materially misrepresent[ing] … that material or activity is infringing.” 17 U.S.C. § 512(f)(1). However, when copyright holders request that an allegedly infringing video be removed, they are “not liable for misrepresentation under the DMCA if they subjectively believe the identified material infringes their copyright, even if that belief is ultimately mistaken.” Hosseinzadeh, 276 F. Supp. 3d at 44.

In this context, a copyright holder “must have actual knowledge that it is making a misrepresentation of fact” to be liable under § 512(f). Cabell v. Zimmerman, No. 09-CV-10134, 2010 WL 996007, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 12, 2010) (emphasis in original); see also Rossi v. Motion Picture Ass’n of Am. Inc., 391 F.3d 1000, 1005 (9th Cir. 2004) (“[T]here must be a demonstration of some actual knowledge of misrepresentation on the part of the copyright owner.”). Nat’l Acad. of Television Arts & Scis., Inc. v. Multimedia Sys. Design, Inc., 551 F. Supp. 3d 408, 432 (S.D.N.Y. 2021)

For more expert legal guidance on copyrights, social media account suspension, or other contract disputes, contact one of our experienced contract attorneys at 305-570-2208. You can also email our lead attorney Eduardo directly at

We at Ayala Law PA are passionate about helping those in legal need, so please don’t hesitate to schedule a case evaluation with us online here.

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