Understanding the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

June 7, 2021
McKenna Melander

Have you lost business to online competitors using your copyright unlawfully? The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) will help you to protect your copyrights. Sumsion Business Law has significant experience helping our clients take advantage of the protections provided by the DMCA.

The purpose of the DMCA is to address online copyright infringement in a way that protects the rights of the Copyright Owners, Hosting Sites, and Infringing Parties. Copyright Owners are those who create a unique design. Once they publish the design, they own the copyright; copyrights are automatic. Hosting Sites, also known as website service providers, provide a platform to create websites and help them run smoothly. Infringing Parties are those who create websites, usually with the assistance of a Hosting Site, and sell goods or services through the website. To help Copyright Owners protect their work, the DMCA provides a mechanism to request Hosting Sites to remove infringing material quickly, without resorting to litigation. If a Copyright Owner locates items online that infringe upon their rights, they can utilize the DMCA to protect their work.  

Our client, a retail manufacturer and seller, discovered that several websites were advertising and selling his exact copyrighted products and designs, name and all. He quickly met with one of our qualified attorneys, who advised him of his rights concerning the copyright. Following their meeting, the attorney began the DMCA Takedown process.  

The first step in a DMCA Takedown process is to identify the items online that infringe upon the copyrighted design. In our client’s case, we were able to identify thirteen items that violated the copyright. These companies were unlawfully gaining from our client’s designs.  

Once identified, the attorney will prepare legal documents and communicate with the Hosting Site. No matter the Hosting Site, the DMCA Takedown will help you to assert your rights and remove the offending material from the Hosting Site, which will face stiff penalties if the material is not taken down pending a full investigation. Infringing materials will often be taken down within one to three business days. Typically, the online service provider will notify the Infringing Party that they are removing the product from their website pending an investigation. Most Hosting Sites have repeat infringer policy’s, which discourage Infringing Parties from repeating the same mistakes.

If the Infringing Party complies, this is the end of the DMCA Takedown. The copyright has been protected, and no further action is needed. If the Infringing Party disagrees with the DMCA Takedown and believes they were not infringing on a copyright, they can file a Counter Notice with the Hosting Site. The Hosting Site will notify the Copyright Owner of the Counter Notice. In most cases, unless the Copyright Owner provides proof of legal action, the Hosting Site will restore the material to the website.

When successful, DMCA Takedown notices enable Copyright Owners to protect their work and avoid litigation. If you are concerned about protecting your copyrighted work, please contact us. We are experienced with these matters and will help you to understand the actions available to you and your rights as a Copyright Owner.

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