How Long is Copyright Protection?Digital Millennium Copyright Act
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Copyright Resources  

A guide to the tricky world of copyright: what is covered, what is not, and how to tell the difference.
Last Updated: Jul 1, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Digital Millennium Copyright Act Print Page

Books on Digital Intellectual Property in Pratt Institute Libraries

Cover Art
Digital Copyright - Jessica Litman
Call Number: 346.73048 L776 (Manhattan)
ISBN: 1573928895
Publication Date: 2001-03-01

Cover Art
The Digital Dilemma - National Research Council Staff
Call Number: 025.12902 N277 (Manhattan)
ISBN: 0309064996
Publication Date: 2000-01-21



The information presented here is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.


Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 1998

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Copyright Office Summary [PDF]) was passed and signed into law in 1998.

There are two major provisions:

1. The DMCA makes illegal the "circumventing" of digital rights software (that is, the program on every DVD, CD or e-book that is supposed to prevent it from being copied) for personal gain. However, while you are legally able to make a copy of an item you purchase (in case the original gets damaged, for example), you cannot legally own or create the means of making such a copy.

Who is exempt from this?

Law enforcement and government, nonprofit libraries, archives, and educational institutions.

Every 3 years, the DMCA enables the Librarian of Congress to decide who else can be included as exempt. The Electronic Frontier Foundation explains what the 2012 round of negotiations achieved.

2. In the event of an illegal copy being transmitted online, the DMCA provides "safe harbor" for internet service providers (ISPs, which can include educational institutions if they provide internet access to their students) from copyright infringement claims if they give notice and take down the allegedly illegal item. Because of this provision, ISPs are not liable for copyright infringement; only the person doing the transmitting is.

For more detail, see the Lumen Database's FAQ about DMCA Safe Harbor.

Useful Resources

  • Chilling Effects Clearinghouse
    A joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics. Documents the ways in which the DMCA is used by companies to shut down criticism.
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Non-profit that fights for individual free speech and privacy rights in the courts and through legislative action.
  • Google Transparency Report
    Google reports the requests it receives from governments and corporations for user info and DMCA-related orders to take down material or links that allegedly infringe on copyright.
  • Pratt Institute Computer and Network Responsible Use Policy
    "Policy governing all Computer and Network Use for Pratt Institute."
  • Twitter Transparency Report
    Twitter reveals the requests it receives from governments and corporations to reveal user info, take down links, and DMCA-related orders to take down material or links that allegedly infringe on copyright.

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