Digital Millennium Copyright Act was enacted in 1998 to update
copyright law in matters dealing with the electronic/digital
environment. Its principle features focus on limitations on infringement
liability for service providers and prohibitions on circumvention of
technological protection measures. Online education environments are
greatly affected by the act provisions. Educational institutions are
generally considered as service providers for purposes of the act.
can become rather creative when designing websites using educational
institution equipment, software, and access to the Internet. Service
providers receive certain protections from liability and “notice and
takedown” procedures must be strictly and timely followed. Any
copyrighted works that are infringed upon by a student using educational
institution resources is subject to the act.
If a copyright owner
discovers that their copyrighted work is up on a website supported in
some way by resources of an educational institution, the copyright owner
must file a notification of alleged infringement under penalty of
perjury and in accordance with the statutory requirements for
notification under the act. Upon receipt of notification, the service
provider must swiftly remove or block access to the material identified
in the notification or face loss of protection under the act. If the
service provider complies, the service provider is then exempt from
monetary liability. The act contains special provisions for non-profit
institutions for certain acts on the part of instructors and graduate
students and considers them “a person other than the provider” and
affords protection to the educational institution under the following
(a) The faculty member or graduate student’s
infringing activities do not involve providing access to course
materials that were required or recommended during the past three years.
The institution has not received more than two notifications over the
past three years that the faculty member or graduate student was
(c) The institution provides all of its users with
informational materials describing and promoting compliance with
The DMCA is divided into five titles:
Title I, the “WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties
Implementation Act of 1998,” implements the WIPO treaties.
Title II, the “Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act,”
creates limitations on the liability of online service providers for
copyright infringement when engaging in certain types of activities.
Title III, the “Computer Maintenance Competition Assurance Act,”
creates an exemption for making a copy of a computer program by
activating a computer for purposes of maintenance or repair.
Title IV contains six miscellaneous provisions, relating to the
functions of the Copyright Office, distance education, the exceptions in
the Copyright Act for libraries and for making ephemeral recordings,
“webcasting” of sound recordings on the Internet, and the applicability
of collective bargaining agreement obligations in the case of transfers
of rights in motion pictures.
5. Title V, the “Vessel Hull Design Protection Act,” creates a new form of protection for the design of vessel hulls.
are many facets to the act that cannot be fully discussed in this
forum. Suffice it to say, instructors should get with their
organizations and their legal counsel to become familiar with the
complex intricacies of the act.
In business, it’s all about making money and using a solid set of resources to make it all happen. If you have skills that should be promoted, think about having a Web presence.