Published On: Fri, May 22nd, 2015

What are DCMA Takedowns, and How Do They Affect My Website?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade or so, you can’t help but to have noticed the dominating influence of American culture across all four corners of the globe.

Turn on the TV, and there’s a slew of US sitcoms and prime-time dramas like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones. Flick on the radio, and it’s rare to find a station that isn’t dominated by American artists. From the food we eat to the lingo we use, the influence of our cousins across the pond knows no bounds, especially when it comes to the web.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Spend any amount of time online, and it won’t be long before you stumble across a site that is owned, operated by an American business or individual, or at least contains content created by one.

So it makes sense that as the USA continues to take over the web, their copyright laws aren’t far behind. Chances are you’ve already seen them at work, even if you didn’t really realise it at the time.

Ever tried to watch a video of your favourite American singer on Youtube, only to find that it was taken down for copyright violation? That’s a little thing called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) hard at work.

What is the DCMA?

The Act itself was signed into law back in 1998 by President Bill Clinton, and set out to give American copyright holders greater protection over their work.

The actual legislation covers a lot of ground, but the one you’re most interested in of course are those ‘DCMA Takedown’ notices that you may have seen (or even received), so we’ll cover that in a little more detail today.

What are DCMA Takedown notices?

Takedown notices are documents which can be served by anybody in the States whose copyright is being infringed. This doesn’t just mean the big money superstars, but also the scores of independent artists and creators who put their work online.

A notice basically states that the copyright holder has not given their permission for a user to share, distribute or make use of their material, and asks that the work is removed from the web.

Who is responsible?

The DCMA provides a certain amount of safety for ‘service providers’ such as Youtube, blogging platforms and web hosting companies in that they can’t be sued for copyright infringement, but do have a duty to ensure that the content is removed.

If a copyright holder issues a DCMA Takedown, they’ll address it to the service provider in question, who’ll then take the appropriate steps to ensure the offending material is taken off their servers.

What if I’m not based in the US?

Here’s where things get a little tricky. DCMA is an American law, which means that service providers outside of the United States have no obligation to adhere to it.

However, it’s worth noting that many of the big name service providers are indeed based Stateside. As such, if you’re based in the UK but you’ve uploaded copyrighted material to a site like Youtube, or any blog whether that’s hosted in the US or UK then you could still see your content removed.

 Can I make a counter claim?

Yes. If you believe that a mistake has been made, you’re allowed to serve a counter-notice. If the person who filed the original notice doesn’t take any further action, then the material in question can be uploaded again after 10 working days. If they do, things may get ugly, and could even end up in court.