Digital Millennium Copyright Act

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Synonyms: DMCA
See also: Legal Analysis, Copyright, Fair Use, Intellectual Property, Cease & Desist, Creative Commons
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The Digital Millennium Copyright Act or more commonly, DMCA is a United States copyright law. It implements two treaties of the The World Intellectual Property Organization.[1]

The law concerns Digital Rights Management (DRM), a set of measures used to restrict access to copyrighted material. The law criminalizes circumventing DRM as well as producing or supplying the means to do so.

Under DMCA, the penalties for copyright infringement online were increased.

The DMCA and Fandom

Fandom mainly encounters DMCA in the form of take down notices for vids and AMVs that use audio or video tracks that are subject to copyright. (See YouTube for information on how YouTube implements DMCA.) Fans who use Mediafire and other cyberlockers to host their podfics, especially if the files include music clips, have noticed an uptick in takedown notices starting in 2012.[citation needed][2]

Fans who gain or provide access to canon via file sharing are also affected.

On 26 July 2010, the Organization for Transformative Works announced that the U.S. Library of Congress had granted an exemption from DMCA restrictions for ripping DVDs to make fanvids.[3] The current exemption applies solely to video (not audio) source. The OTW was able to have the exemption renewed in 2012, but under current law these exemptions must be petitioned for every two years, which puts the burden on users and organizations that represent them to constantly maintain their rights [4] The OTW is currently engaged in a third renewal effort and is requesting expansion of the exemption to include Blu-Ray discs. [5]

Safe harbor

The DMCA includes "safe harbor" provision for hosts that don't edit content - so long as hosts take down infringing content when reported, they are not responsible for content that their users upload.


  1. Wikipedia:Digital Millennium Copyright Act
  2. See 14 October 2012 tweet, October 2012 AO3 post.
  3. US Library of Congress Grants DMCA Exemption for Vidders!!, dated July 26, 2010. Accessed August 25, 2010.
  4. OTW Secures DMCA Exemption from U.S. Copyright Office, dated October 27, 2012. Accessed January 29, 2015.
  5. OTW Files Petitions on Behalf of Fan Video Makers, dated November 3, 2014. Accessed January 29, 2015.