What You Need To Know To Protect Your Online Content? (DMCA)

Is your copyrighted work got infringed by some website? Or you saw your digital image on a website without your consent? Then the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) is your saviour. DMCA is a part or sub-set of the U.S. Copyright law that particularly deals with takedown, removal and putback of the content that is copyrighted and is displayed on the internet. With the advancement of technology, copyright infringement cases are rising day by day and it has become important to provide solutions to such problems.

Hence, this Act was passed by the Congress in 1998 for protecting the copyright owners in case their content or material is posted on the internet without their consent or knowledge. It provides a method for the removal of content that does not require the copyright owner to directly sue the sites which use the owner’s content without permission and also creates protection for the service providers such as web hosts and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as they are not directly responsible for the copyright infringement.

Purpose of the Act

The purpose is to give an alternative route for the copyright owner for ensuring their control over their content and materials. It provides a resolution that concentrates on the speedy takedown of copyrighted resources.

What does the DMCA do?

The DMCA not only provides remedies against the posting of copyrighted content online without the permission of the copyright owner but also criminalizes such acts. It criminalizes the acts of producing and disseminating devices or technologies or services which elude the owner’s controls as provided by the copyright law.

Therefore, if a website publishes or uses  copyrighted content without the permission of the owner then such act is offensive in nature and shall face either civil or criminal consequences. For example- A website, say WordPress uses an image of a person without their consent then such person can send a takedown notice under DMCA for taking down of such images. In case the website is small then the owner can directly contact them if not small then the process of sending the notice must be followed.

Who gets protection under DMCA?

  • Copyright owners
  • Service Providers such as ISPs, search engines, web hosts and sites that are newly launched who are not responsible for posting of copyrighted content
  • Service Providers who are engaged in the activities of transiting information through system, caching of unmodified data temporarily or stores content.

How does DMCA works?

The DMCA works in two aspects:

  1. Notice and Takedown
  2. Counter Notice and Putback
  3. Notice and Takedown– the notice and takedown procedure is a tool for the owners of copyright to help them in taking down their infringed content from the websites and other internet sites.

How to send the notice

  • The copyright owner shall send a DMCA notice to the service provider for removing the content that infringes the owner’s copyright or copyrights.
  • The service providers can be an internet service provider, a website operator, a search engine (example – Google or Yahoo), a web host (example- GoDaddy) or any other kind of website-operator.
  • All the essential elements must be present in the notice as specified by the copyright law and if the essential elements are not present then the service provider may refuse to remove/take down the content. Even if the notice of takedown meets all the legal requirements.
  • If the service providers fail to comply with the takedown notice then they shall face the secondary liability for assisting with respect to the copyright infringement.
  • In case the copyright owner has not registered their copyright with the US Copyright Office then also they can use the DMCA procedure. However, it must not be used for any other purposes apart from the claim of copyright infringement.
  1. Counter notice and Putback– After the notice is sent to a service provider then the service provider notifies the user or subscriber or any other person who is infringing the copyright. If the alleged infringer thinks that they did so in good faith or do not think that their activity infringed the owner’s copyright then such infringer can send a counter notice to the service provider, the alleged infringer must explain their reasons as to why they do not agree with the copyright owner.

When the service provider receives the counter notice they forward the same to the person who originally sent the takedown notice and they have to wait for 10-14 days after receiving a valid DMCA counter notice. Within this time limit, if the copyright owner sues the alleged infringer then the content shall remain down. However, if no such suit is filed by the owner then the service provider should re-activate or provide access to the alleged infringed content.

Penalties/Remedies under DMCA

The consequences of offences under DMCA includes both civil and criminal remedies.

Civil offence

The civil action has to be brought in Federal Court and Section 1203 empowers the court to grant a range of equitable and monetary remedies which are as same as the remedies available under the US Copyright Act, this also includes statutory si the discretion of the court to reduce or remit the damages in innocent violation cases when it is proved by the violator.

Section 1203(c)(5)(B) of the Act provides Special Protection to the educational institutions, non-profit libraries and archives which are entitled to a complete remission of damages in the circumstances.

Criminal offence

Under Section 1201 or 1202, any offence is committed wilfully and for the objective of commercial advantage or any personal financial gain then such offence is said to e criminal and violative of the above-mentioned sections.

Section 1204 of the Act states the penalties. According to it, a fine upto $500,000 or imprisonment can may extend to 5 years shall be imposed in case of first offence. Thereafter, a fine upto $1,000,000 or imprisonment upto 10 years shall be imposed for subsequent offences.

Exceptions- non-profit libraries, archives and educational institutions. These are completely exempted.

Is DMCA only for the US?

DMCA is a segment of the US Copyright law, however, the Takedown process of DMCA as described within the law is used widely across the globe. Many countries have accepted the standard of DMCA Takedown Notice form and procedure. Although DMCA Takedown is also a segment of the US Copyright law. The Takedown Notice of DMCA has time and again been used and accepted across the globe and not just exclusively to the United States. Many countries have their own laws for copyright that specifically deals with removal of content from the Internet Service Providers (ISP) and website owners within their borders.


DMCA’s first section administers the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties. At first, it amends the U.S. copyright laws for incorporating the WIPO treaties that are international laws. Secondly, the Act made it illegal to bypass any technology which are meant to protect the copyrighted content and it also added civil remedies and criminal penalties for violation of the provisions.


Under the copyright law, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) is not directly or indirectly liable for the copyright infringement occurred through the usage of their services. It includes emails, forums and platforms for user-generated content. The reason is that as the internet contains millions of gigabytes of data, it is impossible for the service providers. They just monitor the content submitted by the users. However, in case the ISPs, choose not to remove the infringed content after receiving the notice or if found to contribute in such infringement then they shall be subjected to civil or criminal proceedings.

DMCA AND Indian laws

This Act is a segment of US copyright laws. Therefore, the applicability is limited to the websites that are hosted in the US. Every site in the US is bound to obey the law and even if a copyright owner is outside the US still a notice under DMCA can be issued to them.

Indian law also recognizes the concept of DMCA under Section 52 of the Copyright Act, 1957. Section 52(1)(c) of the Copyright Act, 1957 gives permission for issuing of the takedown notice to file-sharing websites for removing the infringed content. Along with the Act, the Copyright Rules, 2013 additionally lays down the receipt of written complaint. It states that the person who is responsible for the storage of the infringing copy of the content will be required to remove the same within a time period of 36 hours.

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act provides protection from unauthorized posting of online content which is copyrighted and its owners. Therefore, if the website wants protection from the penalties imposed by this Act then it must comply with the provisions and shall refrain from engaging in the copyrighted content which can lead to copyright infringement.

Plead Masters- Reliable And Effective Legal Services


Your Trusted Partner In Navigating The Complex Landscape Of Intellectual Property (IP) Law. We are a team of dedicated IP professionals passionate about providing comprehensive, tailored, and cutting-edge legal solutions. We understand that every idea, creation, and brand is a valuable asset that needs the utmost protection in today’s competitive global marketplace.

External Links

Back to top button
Open chat
Scan the code
Hello 👋
Can we help you?