Don't Guess: The DMCA Provides a Road Map for Safe Handling of Copyright Claims

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides safety from copyright claims for a website operator or host who takes down content on a website that it did not generate or for businesses giving access to others. The safety, however, is only available if those business meet the requirements and follow the DMCA's rules on handling take down notices. In this Analysis, Paul D. McGrady Jr. provides guidance on how to comply with the DMCA. He writes:

     DMCA compliance is easy. Really. In order to qualify, all a company need do is:

a. adopt a compliant DMCA policy;

b. post that policy on the relevant website(s);

c. register a DMCA Agent with the Copyright Office;

d. assign an active email address to copyright complaints which is being actively monitored; and

e. expeditiously act on take down requests.


     ... The DMCA requires that a provider act "expeditiously" to take down content which a party alleges is infringing. Since the complaining party is doubtlessly anxious about the content, it makes sense to provide them with a quick acknowledgment of the receipt of their complaint and let them know that you are evaluating it. If at all possible, it makes sense to conduct and finalize your review of the notice within 24 hours.

     In evaluating a notice, it is important that you not approach it in a formalistic way. Even if the notice isn't perfect, you should act on the information that you have. Generally speaking, a DMCA take down notice should include a sufficient description of the copyrighted work that is allegedly being infringed upon.

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