Digital Media Copyright Act
With the world wide usage of the Internet, more comprehensive copyright laws had to be developed. The Digital Media Copyright Act implements two World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties as well as addressing multiple important copyright-related issues. It was signed into law in 1998 by President William (Bill) Clinton and is divided into five sections, called Titles.
Digital Media Copyright Act
Title I: The WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
These treaties established protections to prevent member states from circumventing technological measures used to protect copyrighted works, and to prevent tampering with the integrity of copyright management information. The Digital Media Copyright Act creates prohibitions against such violations in the federal Code and provides for civil and criminal penalties in the case of violations. Essentially, it codifies the two treaties into United States laws.
The treaties and the new areas of the federal Code provide for exemptions to the copyright protection restrictions. These include allowance for the protection of minors, cyber security and exemptions for libraries and research institutions.
Title II: Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation
Title II is referred to as the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation section of the Act. It creates limitations on liability for copyright infringement on the part of Internet service providers in four areas:
- Information location tools
- System caching
- Transitory communications
- Storage of information on systems or networks at the direction of users
Essentially, the limitations completely bar monetary damages against the Internet service provider and limit the ability of the courts to grant injunctions against the service provider. The basis is to protect the service provider from actions of users that infringe on copyrighted material.
Individuals and groups may seek relief against service provider customers for copyright infringement but must be able to prove knowing culpability on the part of the service provider in order to seek court action.
The service provider is required to make good faith efforts to terminate the access of users who infringe on copyrighted works or programs. The provider also must not interfere with any standard protective measures used to safeguard copyrighted works such as data encryption or pass-wording.
Title III: Computer Repair and Maintenance
Title III deals with copyrighted material in relation to computer repair and maintenance. The title expands on the ability of the owner of a program to make a copy in conjunction with the repair or maintenance of a computer. The copy may only be made if the program already legally exists on the computer and is made when the computer is activated. The copy must be destroyed when the maintenance is repair is complete; it is only for temporary use.
Title IV: Other Copyright Issues
Title IV incorporates several miscellaneous additions and provisions to the U.S. Copyright Office practices and procedures. The simplest of these is to confirm the authority of the U.S. Copyright Office to perform its duties as already defined in federal law.
Another addition is the authorization of broadcast facilities to make temporary, no longer than six months, of music and other recorded media for ease of broadcast purposes. This allows prerecording of programs incorporating music and not force the broadcaster to use original CDs on the fly during a broadcast. These recordings are classified as ephemeral recordings, referring to their temporary nature.
Exemptions and exceptions for public library and distance education copyright issues are also addressed by Title IV. In this case, libraries may make copies in current media formats if the original media format is no longer commercially available. An example of this would be copying microfiche files into DVD or solid state storage format.
Title V: Vessel Hull Design Protection Act
Title V deals with the copyright of useful articles on the hulls of seagoing vessels no longer than 200 feet. This is known as the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act. A useful article is designated as a component or feature that makes the vessel distinctive or attractive in appearance.
The majority of the Digital Media Copyright Act went into force upon its signing. The provisions regarding the two treaties, however, did not become functional until the treaties themselves went into effect following the incorporation into national law of all member states.