What is a DMCA Takedown?

The complications of copyright infringement.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) criminalizes the distribution of copyright-protected material, and targets music, film, and software piracy in particular. Under the DMCA, copyright holders and their agents can demand the removal of content that was posted without their permission. This takedown notice must be filed by the copyright holder or a representative and sent to the DMCA agent the service provider has appointed and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Once the notice has been received, the host of the content must check to make sure it is complete and either remove or disable access to the infringing work. The host then contacts the user involved and gives them the opportunity to respond.

Exceptions to this rule include: 

  1. Conduits

Services that are not destinations in and of themselves — internet service providers, for instance — are not responsible for pirated material that passes through their networks.

  1. Caching Services

Services that cache data temporarily; namely the ones used by broadband services to speed up internet access.

  1. Web Hosts

Services that host content are given safe harbor provided they had no knowledge of the infringement, lacked the ability to control it, did not encourage it, did not profit directly from it, and worked to remove infringing material after receiving the proper notification.  For example, if I uploaded a video to YouTube that contained your song, I would be the one responsible for the copyright infringement, not YouTube, as they are just the song’s web host. However, they would assist in the DMCA takedown process.

  1. Information Location Tools

Similar to web hosts, information location tools — including search engines and directories — are given safe harbor provided they meet a similar set of criteria.

For more information on key sections of the DMCA, check out the U.S. Copyright Office’s official landing page here

Interested in learning more? Check out our article on your rights as a copyright holder. 


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