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Copyright: Basic Facts for Teaching

DMCA: Digital Millennium Copyright Act

DMCA: Digital Millennium Copyright Act


On October 12, 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The law became effective in October 2000 and it has been incorporated into the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the U. S. Code). This landmark legislation updated U.S. copyright law to meet the demands of the Digital Age and to conform U.S. law to the requirements of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and treaties that the U.S. signed in 1996.

Divided in to five "titles," the DMCA is a complex act that addresses a number of issues that are of concern to libraries. Among its many provisions, the Act:

• imposes rules prohibiting the circumvention of technological protection measures

• sets limitations on copyright infringement liability for online service providers (OSPs/ ISPs)

• expands an existing exemption for making copies of computer programs

• provides a significant updating of the rules and procedures regarding archival preservation

• mandates a study of distance education activities in networked environments

• mandates a study of the effects of anti-circumvention protection rules on the "first sale" doctrine

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Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance

Adapted from "The Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance for Academic Institutions," Copyright Clearance Center

New Rules

• Prohibition of unauthorized circumvention of technological measures which control access to or restrict the use of a copyright-protected work. Such technological measures may involve a password or encryption; breaking the password or encryption is illegal. Copyright management information includes the title of a work, the name of the author or copyright holder and other identifying information. Intentionally removing or altering such information violates a provision of the DMCA.

• The DMCA provides limited liability for university networks acting as Internet service providers (ISPs) for students and faculty, provided that certain requirements are met.

Requirements of the DMCA

• Appoint a designated agent to receive reports of copyright infringement. Register the agent with the U.S. Copyright Office.

• Develop and post a copyright policy.

• Educate campus community about copyright.

• Comply with "take down" requests.

• Apply measures to protect against unauthorized access to content and dissemination of information.

• Use only lawfully acquired copies of copyrighted works.


 This guide is for informational purposes only.

 It should not be used in place of the advice of legal counsel.