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LEGAL DICTIONARY

DMCA Notice

What Is a DMCA Notice?

A Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice is a message that informs a website owner, website host, or search engine of a copyright infringement. A DMCA Notice is also called a DMCA Takedown Notice and a DCMA Request.

If the recipient of a DMCA Notice does not take down the content in question, it can be forcibly removed. In some cases, fees may be charged, and a legal battle may ensue.

The DMCA became law in the U.S. in 1998 as a response to the growing problem of illegal internet access to movies, music, art, and other materials protected under copyrights. The act covers the following content:

  • Written words, including books, articles, and poems
  • Videos and movies
  • Audio files, including music
  • Artwork, including photos and other images
  • Software

What Information Must a DMCA Notice Include?

At first, DMCA Notices are often written in a friendly tone with the idea that the recipient may not realize the material is copyrighted and with the assumption that that recipient will take down the material in good faith.

However, a DMCA Notice must include the following information:

  • Identification of the copyrighted work that has allegedly been infringed (name, title, and type of media)
  • Specifics about the portion of the copyrighted work that has been infringed
  • Statement that permission has not been granted to use the copyrighted work
  • Statement that the information in the DMCA Notice is accurate and that the person writing the notice has the authority to act on behalf of the copyrighted work (as the copyright holder or an agent of the copyright holder).
  • Name and signature of the copyright owner whose work was infringed
  • Contact information for the copyright owner

The copyright owner also can send an invoice with the cost to purchase the rights to use the material in question or issue the request for a credit added to the material. The notice may also include information about contacting the copyright owner's attorney.

If the copyrighted work is infringed on multiple websites, the owner must send a DMCA notice to each website owner.

What Should You Do If You Receive a DMCA Notice?

Whether you confirm or deny the copyright infringement, you must respond to the notice immediately. Failure to respond could lead to a copyright infringement lawsuit.

You may have posted the material without knowledge of an infringement or through shared content from another site, or you may have received permission from someone who didn't actually own the material. In these cases, remove the infringing material immediately.

If you think that the notice of a copyright infringement resulted from a misunderstanding or involves Fair Use material, contact the sender to work out an agreement. In some cases, it may become necessary to engage legal help to file a counter-notice.

Frequently Asked Questions About DMCA Notices

  • Does the content have to be copyrighted for a DMCA Notice to be valid?

    No, the owner of the materials does not need to have a registered copyright. However, it is easier to win a legal battle in a DCMA notice or to seek financial damages for the infringement if the material is registered with the Copyright Office.

  • How long do DMCA Notice recipients have to take down the material?

    The law states that the material must be taken down upon receipt of the DMCA notice. However, the actual time may vary, depending on whether the recipient is a website, file-sharing site, or search engine.

  • What is Fair Use material?

    Before sending a DMCA Notice, it is important to know that the material is covered under the act. For example, under the Fair Use part of copyright law, others may use portions of copyrighted material without permission for "transformative" purposes. These purposes include using portions of the work to critique, comment on, or parody it.

  • What about international websites?

    The DMCA applies to websites in the U.S. If the website is not hosted in the U.S., you will need to check that country's copyright laws. About 200 countries are part of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Therefore, an owner in another country may still comply with your DCMA notice.

What Is a DMCA Notice?

A Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice is a message that informs a website owner, website host, or search engine of a copyright infringement. A DMCA Notice is also called a DMCA Takedown Notice and a DCMA Request.

If the recipient of a DMCA Notice does not take down the content in question, it can be forcibly removed. In some cases, fees may be charged, and a legal battle may ensue.

The DMCA became law in the U.S. in 1998 as a response to the growing problem of illegal internet access to movies, music, art, and other materials protected under copyrights. The act covers the following content:

  • Written words, including books, articles, and poems
  • Videos and movies
  • Audio files, including music
  • Artwork, including photos and other images
  • Software

What Information Must a DMCA Notice Include?

At first, DMCA Notices are often written in a friendly tone with the idea that the recipient may not realize the material is copyrighted and with the assumption that that recipient will take down the material in good faith.

However, a DMCA Notice must include the following information:

  • Identification of the copyrighted work that has allegedly been infringed (name, title, and type of media)
  • Specifics about the portion of the copyrighted work that has been infringed
  • Statement that permission has not been granted to use the copyrighted work
  • Statement that the information in the DMCA Notice is accurate and that the person writing the notice has the authority to act on behalf of the copyrighted work (as the copyright holder or an agent of the copyright holder).
  • Name and signature of the copyright owner whose work was infringed
  • Contact information for the copyright owner

The copyright owner also can send an invoice with the cost to purchase the rights to use the material in question or issue the request for a credit added to the material. The notice may also include information about contacting the copyright owner's attorney.

If the copyrighted work is infringed on multiple websites, the owner must send a DMCA notice to each website owner.

What Should You Do If You Receive a DMCA Notice?

Whether you confirm or deny the copyright infringement, you must respond to the notice immediately. Failure to respond could lead to a copyright infringement lawsuit.

You may have posted the material without knowledge of an infringement or through shared content from another site, or you may have received permission from someone who didn't actually own the material. In these cases, remove the infringing material immediately.

If you think that the notice of a copyright infringement resulted from a misunderstanding or involves Fair Use material, contact the sender to work out an agreement. In some cases, it may become necessary to engage legal help to file a counter-notice.

Frequently Asked Questions About DMCA Notices

  • Does the content have to be copyrighted for a DMCA Notice to be valid?

    No, the owner of the materials does not need to have a registered copyright. However, it is easier to win a legal battle in a DCMA notice or to seek financial damages for the infringement if the material is registered with the Copyright Office.

  • How long do DMCA Notice recipients have to take down the material?

    The law states that the material must be taken down upon receipt of the DMCA notice. However, the actual time may vary, depending on whether the recipient is a website, file-sharing site, or search engine.

  • What is Fair Use material?

    Before sending a DMCA Notice, it is important to know that the material is covered under the act. For example, under the Fair Use part of copyright law, others may use portions of copyrighted material without permission for "transformative" purposes. These purposes include using portions of the work to critique, comment on, or parody it.

  • What about international websites?

    The DMCA applies to websites in the U.S. If the website is not hosted in the U.S., you will need to check that country's copyright laws. About 200 countries are part of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Therefore, an owner in another country may still comply with your DCMA notice.