Enacted in 1998 as the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protects online service providers (OSPs) from contributory copyright infringement in connection with the transmitting, caching, storing, or indexing of online copyrighted content. Within the DMCA are four safe harbors that give immunity to OSPs from monetary damages resulting from copyright infringement. Of course, some things are easier said than done. That is where attorney Connie J. Mabelson and her book DMCA Handbook for Online Service Providers, Websites, and Copyright Owners come in to save the day. Mabelson explains all that OSPs need to know about acquiring the immunity and protection promised by the DMCA in the event that the OSP, either knowingly or unknowingly, transmitted, cached, stored, or indexed infringing content on its servers. She begins, though, with the basics. She defines an OSP and what qualifies as a service provider, whether it be a website, a search engine, or a host of other providers of online content. She then provides an overview of the content protected by copyright law, how such content can be infringed upon, specifically in an online environment, and the affirmative defenses that an alleged infringer may assert in a suit for copyright infringement.
Mabelson reminds us that OSPs can limit their liability for claims of contributory or vicarious copyright infringement through the application of the safe harbors set forth in the DMCA. These safe harbors exist for transmitting, caching, storing, and indexing online content. However, the safe harbors can only be used if the OSP is eligible and if the OSP followed the process specifically laid out in the DMCA, including the take-down process. The author also includes some sample forms, such as take-down notices and letters to alleged infringers.
Whether you are a website owner, copyright owner, or content creator, you will want to read DMCA Handbook for Online Service Providers, Websites, and Copyright Owners for a clearer understanding of the DMCA, its requirements, and its protections.