Those with publicly available websites or who own or generate digital content such as music or movies need to understand the basic framework of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Enacted to augment the ‘regular’ copyright act in a digital world, the law, in pertinent part provides immunity to those operating websites and providing internet access so long as they comply with various procedural steps. It also provides a redress mechanism for those who own copyrighted content and feel that it is being wrongfully made available in digital form.

We are happy to discuss specific obligations with interested readers. However, a few broad generalizations are likely to be useful as a preliminary matter.

For those operating websites:

  • Include site terms of use which expressly prohibit submissions of copyrighted material of others (as well as material which is defamatory, racist, obscene, an incitement to violence, etc.);
  • Specify and file with U.S. Copyright Office on prescribed form, name and contact info for person responsible for addressing infringement claims;
  • Respond promptly to infringement notices which are received by taking down offending material unless there appears to be good reason not to do so;
  • Consider  and  discuss  with  us,  ongoing  monitoring  of  site  to  proactively  remove  problematic material; however, if this is to be done, it is important to be consistent and thorough;
  • Do  not  edit  material  which  is  submitted  to  site,  as  assertion  of  editorial  control  may  be problematic;
  • Do not accept financial benefit for any post; and
  • Where a particular site user is consistently  posting copyrighted material, prevent them from having further site access. Cox Communications was very recently hit with a $25 million jury verdict for its failure to do so.

For those owning copyrighted content which exists in digital form, monitor where it appears without your consent. If you see it on a site where your do not want it, take prescribed steps to have it taken down. This requires written notice on a prescribed form to the agent designated by the site operator on the site for such purpose.