Tenth anniversary of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act

October 28, 2008
Post by Blog Staff

On October 28, 1998, President Clinton signed the Digital Millenium Copyright Act into law. The Act is probably best known for two of its provisions: (1) the anti-cirumvention provsion, which prohibits circumventing a "technological measure that effectively controls access to" a copyrighted work, and (2) the online "safe harbor" provision, which generally insulates parties that host material online from liability for infringement provided they follow the prescribed notice and takedown procedure.

Depending on your point of view, the success of these two provisions are often seen to be inversely correlated: content providers generally favor the anti-circumvention provsion, as it has permitted the maintenance of various DRM schemes, such as CSS for DVDs, FairPlay on iTunes, and the various DRM systems associated with Blu-ray discs (such as AACS and BD+), although it has not prevented those schemes from being overcome by various programmers. The safe harbor provisions have been largely successful from the perspective of online companies, having fostered the development and growth of sites hosting user-submitted content, such as YouTube, although it has not been without its issues, such as the ongoing litigation between Viacom and YouTube regarding whether YouTube may be liable for user-posted content even if the notice-and-takedown procedures are followed.

Several sites are discussing the DMCA on its anniversary:

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