Copyright Basics: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act
Test Your Copyright Knowledge
What You Need To Know

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) (pdf) was passed into law in 1998 to address some of the issues unique to digital copyright. In order to help copyright holders protect their digital content, the DMCA contains provisions forbidding circumvention of digital protections and protecting copyright management information.

The anti-circumvention provisions prohibit the unauthorized circumvention of technological measures which control access to or restrict the use of a copyright-protected work. Such technological measures may involve a password or encryption; breaking the password or encryption is illegal.

Copyright management information includes the title of a work, the name of the author or copyright holder and other identifying information. Intentionally removing or altering such information violates a provision of the DMCA.

The DMCA provides limited liability for university networks acting as Internet service providers (ISPs) for students and faculty, provided that certain requirements are met.

Requirements of the DMCA:

  • Appoint a designated agent to receive reports of copyright infringement. Register the agent with the U.S. Copyright Office.
  • Develop and post a copyright policy. Educate campus community about copyright.
  • Comply with "take down" requests.
  • Apply measures to protect against unauthorized access to content and dissemination of information.
  • Use only lawfully acquired copies of copyrighted works.