Mohave Community College Libraries

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was enacted to address the inherent vulnerabilities found in an online network. It also provides the legal process for copyright holders to make claims of infringement, given that only an Internet Service Provider (ISP) has the means to locate an infringing party (IP address and timestamp). The DMCA is an attempt by Congress to balance the needs of copyright holders, whose digital works can be easily accessed and copied, and the liability of an ISP for its users’ infringing activities.

The Act includes five titles, three of which have particular relevance to academic institutions.

Title I: Prohibitions on Circumvention of Protection Technologies, Sections 1201 & 1202:

  • Prohibits the circumvention of technological measures that control access to, or restrict the use of, a copyright-protected work (e.g., breaking a password or encryption to gain access to a protected work)
  • Prohibits the manufacture of any device, or the offering of any service, designed to circumvent technological measures that control access to copyright-protected works
  • Prohibits tampering with copyright management information (CMI). Creates liability for anyone who intentionally provides or distributes false CMI, including the title of a work, the name of the author or copyright holder, and other identifying information

Title II: Limitations on Online Service Provider Liability

The DMCA gives limited liability to college networks, which act as Internet service providers (ISPs) for students and faculty, provided the institution meets certain requirements:

  • Appoint a designated agent to receive reports of copyright infringement and register that agent with the U.S. Copyright Office
  • Comply with any "take down" requests
  • Use measures to protect against unauthorized access to content and unlawful dissemination of information
  • Use only legally acquired copies of copyrighted works
  • The institution provides copyright information to its users

Title IV: Digital Preservation

  • Permits nonprofit  institutions to make up to three, digital preservation copies of an eligible copyrighted work
  • Electronically "loan" those copies to other qualifying institutions
  • Permits preservation, including by digital means, when the existing format in which the work has been stored becomes obsolete