What is the DMCA?
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) is a landmark piece of federal legislation that attempts to address technological advances. It changes copyright law, giving more protection to digital works. The DMCA has been controversial, with some groups claiming that it upsets the balance of power between creators, consumers, and publishers by favoring content owners.
The key elements of the DMCA involve two concepts, (1) limitations to the liability of online service providers and (2) prohibitions against circumventing copyright protection & management systems. More specifically, the DMCA:
The DMCA protects an Online Service Provider (OSP) from liability under certain conditions. One such condition is that OSPs such as Mercyhurst University must identify an agent from the institution who will receive notifications of claimed infringement from copyright holders and provide public notice on how to contact the agent.
Additional requirements required of the OSP for liability limitation include:
Special OSP liability limitations apply to non-profit educational institutions. When a faculty member or student infringes while teaching, studying, or conducting research, the OSP will not be held liable if:
In the DMCA, Congress directed that an ongoing, administrative rule making proceeding be held to evaluate the impact of anti-circumvention provisions on non-infringing uses of copyrighted works. The U.S. Copyright Office conducts this rule making proceeding every three years in conjunction with the Librarian of Congress. In 2000, 2003, and 2006, exemptions went into effect that exempted certain classes of works from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works.
The 2000 and 2003 rulemaking proceedings resulted in these exemptions from prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works:
A summary of the 2006 anti-circumvention rule making proceedings can be found on the U.S. Copyright Office Web site:http://www.copyright.gov/1201/index.html. These exemptions went into effect upon publication in the Federal Register on November 27, 2006, was to remain in effect through October 27, 2009, and has been indefinitely extended.
1. Audiovisual works included in the educational library of a college or university’s film or media studies department, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of making compilations of portions of those works for educational use in the classroom by media studies or film professors.
2. Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and that require the original media or hardware as a condition of access, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital works by a library or archive. A format shall be considered obsolete if the machine or system necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.
3. Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete. A dongle shall be considered obsolete if it is no longer manufactured or if a replacement or repair is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.
4. Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format.
5. Computer programs in the form of firmware that enable wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telephone communication network, when circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting to a wireless telephone communication network.
6. Sound recordings, and audiovisual works associated with those sound recordings, distributed in compact disc format and protected by technological protection measures that control access to lawfully purchased works and create or exploit security flaws or vulnerabilities that compromise the security of personal computers, when circumvention is accomplished solely for the purpose of good faith testing, investigating, or correcting such security flaws or vulnerabilities.
Digital rights management (DRM) is a broad term encompassing technologies that control how digital content is used. See the position statement of the American Library Association, as well as links to a wide variety of other advocacy groups athttp://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/copyright/digitalrights/resources/index.cfm.