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Welcome to 's Guide to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, commonly known as the “DMCA.” This page is as an overview of the statute, and should not be considered as comprehensive. However, if you’ve received a DMCA takedown notice targeting content you have uploaded on or if you’re a rights-holder looking to issue such a notice, this page will hopefully help to demystify the law a bit as well as our policies for complying with it.
(If you just want to submit a notice, you can skip to the end.)
As with all legal matters, it is always best to consult with a professional about your specific questions or situation. We strongly encourage you to do so before taking any action that might impact your rights. This guide isn't legal advice and shouldn't be taken as such.
In order to understand the DMCA and some of the policy lines it draws, it's perhaps helpful to consider life before it was enacted.
The DMCA provides a safe harbor for service providers that host user-generated content. Since even a single claim of copyright infringement can carry statutory damages of up to $150,000, the possibility of being held liable for user-generated content could be very harmful for service providers. With potential damages multiplied across millions of users, cloud-computing and user-generated content sites like YouTube, Facebook, or probably never would have existed without the DMCA (or at least not without passing some of that cost downstream to their users).
The DMCA addresses this issue by creating a copyright liability safe harbor for internet service providers hosting allegedly infringing user-generated content. Essentially, so long as a service provider follows the DMCA's notice-and-takedown rules, it won't be liable for copyright infringement based on user-generated content. Because of this, it is important for to maintain its DMCA safe-harbor status.
The DMCA provides two simple, straightforward procedures that all users should know about: (i) a takedown-notice procedure for copyright holders to request that content be removed; and (ii) a counter-notice procedure for users to get content reenabled when content is taken down by mistake or misidentification.
DMCA takedown notices are used by copyright owners to ask to take down content they believe to be infringing. If you are a content creator, you create copyrighted content every day. If someone else is using your copyrighted content in an unauthorized manner on , you can send us a DMCA takedown notice to request that the infringing content be changed or removed.
On the other hand, counter notices can be used to correct mistakes. Maybe the person sending the takedown notice does not hold the copyright or did not realize that you have a license or made some other mistake in their takedown notice. Since usually cannot know if there has been a mistake, the DMCA counter notice allows you to let us know and ask that we put the content back up.
The DMCA notice and takedown process should be used only for complaints about copyright infringement. Notices sent through our DMCA process must identify copyrighted work or works that are allegedly being infringed. The process cannot be used for other complaints, such as sensitive data; we offer separate processes for that situation.
The DMCA framework is a bit like passing notes in class. The copyright owner hands a complaint about a user. If it's written correctly, we pass the complaint along to the user. If the user disputes the complaint, they can pass a note back saying so. exercises little discretion in the process other than determining whether the notices meet the minimum requirements of the DMCA. It is up to the parties (and their lawyers) to evaluate the merit of their claims, bearing in mind that notices must be made under penalty of perjury.
Here are the basic steps in the process.
Copyright Owner Investigates. A copyright owner should always conduct an initial investigation to confirm both (a) that they own the copyright to an original work and (b) that the content on is unauthorized and infringing. This includes confirming that the use is not protected as fair use. A particular use may be fair if it only uses a small amount of copyrighted content, uses that content in a transformative way, uses it for educational purposes, or some combination of the above. Because code naturally lends itself to such uses, each use case is different and must be considered separately.
Example: An product reviewer of Acme Company finds some of their product photography in a product review. Acme Company licenses its photography to several trusted partners. Before sending in a take-down notice, Acme should review those licenses and its agreements to confirm that the content on is not authorized under any of them.
Copyright Owner Sends A Notice. After conducting an investigation, a copyright owner prepares and sends a takedown notice to . Assuming the takedown notice is sufficiently detailed according to the statutory requirements (as explained in the how-to guide), we will review the alledged infringement and take action based on the evidence. We will also contact the User regarding the claims.
User Notifies of Changes. If the user chooses to make the specified changes, they must tell us so within the window of approximately 1 business day. If they don't, we will completely remove the content. If the user notifies us that they made changes, we will verify that the changes have been made and then notify the copyright owner.
Copyright Owner Revises or Retracts the Notice. If the user makes changes, the copyright owner must review them and renew or revise their takedown notice if the changes are insufficient. will not take any further action unless the copyright owner contacts us to either renew the original takedown notice or submit a revised one. If the copyright owner is satisfied with the changes, they may either submit a formal retraction or else do nothing. will interpret silence longer than two weeks as an implied retraction of the takedown notice.
May Disable Access to the Content. will disable a user's content if: (i) the copyright owner has alleged copyright over the user's entire repository or package (as noted in Step 3); (ii) the user has not made any changes after being given an opportunity to do so (as noted in Step 4); or (iii) the copyright owner has renewed their takedown notice after the user had a chance to make changes. If the copyright owner chooses instead to revise the notice, we will go back to Step 2 and repeat the process as if the revised notice were a new notice.
User May Send A Counter Notice. We encourage users who have had content disabled to consult with a lawyer about their options. If a user believes that their content was disabled as a result of a mistake or misidentification, they may send us a counter notice. As with the original notice, we will make sure that the counter notice is sufficiently detailed (as explained in the how-to guide). If it is, we will pass the notice back to the copyright owner.
Copyright Owner May File a Legal Action. If a copyright owner wishes to keep the content disabled after receiving a counter notice, they will need to initiate a legal action seeking a court order to restrain the user from engaging in infringing activity relating to the content on . In other words, you might get sued. If the copyright owner does not give notice within 10-14 days, by sending a copy of a valid legal complaint filed in a court of competent jurisdiction, will reenable the disabled content.
We recognize that there are many valid reasons that you may not be able to make changes within the window of approximately 1 business day we provide before your repository gets disabled. Maybe our message got flagged as spam, maybe you were on vacation, maybe you don't check that email account regularly, or maybe you were just busy. We get it. If you respond to let us know that you would have liked to make the changes, but somehow missed the first opportunity, we will re-enable the repository one additional time for approximately 1 business day to allow you to make the changes. Again, you must notify us that you have made the changes in order to keep the repository enabled after that window of approximately 1 business day, as noted above in How Does This Actually Work. Please note that we will only provide this one additional chance.
It is the policy of , in appropriate circumstances and in its sole discretion, to disable and terminate the accounts of users who may infringe upon the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of or others.
If you are ready to submit a notice or a counter notice:
’s DMCA policies have been influenced by those at GitHub.
This page was last updated: 01/07/2021 (dd/mm/yyyy).
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