DMCA Meaning & Definition

Short for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, an act of Congress that was signed into law on October 28th, 1998, by President Clinton. DMCA’s purpose is to update U.S. copyright laws for the digital age.

Briefly, the DMCA stipulates the following conditions:

  • It is a crime to circumvent anti-piracy measures that are built into commercial software.
  • It is a crime to manufacture, sell or distribute code-cracking devices that illegally copy software. However, it is not a crime to crack copyright protection devices in order to conduct encryptionresearch, assess product interoperability or test the security of computer systems.
  • Under certain circumstances, nonprofit libraries, archives and education institutions are exempt from the anti-circumvention provisions.
  • The copyright infringement liability of ISPsthat simply transmit information over the Internet is limited. However, ISPs must remove material from users’ Web sites that appears to constitute copyright infringement.
  • The liability for copyright infringement by faculty members and graduate students of nonprofit institutions of higher education is limited when the institutions serve as ISPs and under certain circumstances.
  • Webcastersmust pay licensing fees to record companies.
  • The Register of Copyrights must submit to Congress recommendations regarding how to promote distance education through digital technologies while “maintaining an appropriate balance between the rights of copyright owners and the needs of users.”

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