Digital Millenniuim Copyright Act

It’s Time to Pay Closer Attention to Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) was Congress’ attempt, almost six years ago, to protect authors and artists against hi-tech piracy.  The DMCA created new prohibitions against activities that facilitate copyright infringement.  Congress gave copyright holders a new weapon with which to go after would be transgressors.  The DMCA has broad application, from computer software, to digital movies and music, and affects both large corporate interests and individual users of digital content.

In Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Skylink Technologies, Inc., 381 F.3d 1178 (2004), the Federal Circuit proffered at least three significant interpretations of the DMCA:

  • Under the DMCA, the plaintiff has the burden of proving absence of license.
  • A claim for trafficking in circumvention technology must have a nexus with copyright-protected materials.
  • Contrary to a 2001 Second Circuit holding, the fair use doctrine applies to claims under the DMCA.

Each of these holdings can be significant to counseling clients about the impact of the DMCA.