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Digital Millennium Copyright Act

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The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a bill passed in 1998 that gives internet service providers some immunity from lawsuits and legal hassles with users who offer downloads on their servers that infringe on copyright. The bill merges two WIPO treaties, the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, and adds some US-only laws.[1]

International provisions:

  • criminalizes anything that allows people to illegally access DRM-restricted materials.


Like many laws attempting to regulate the internet, DMCA has had some unintended consequences especially in the area of research and innovation. One primary area of concern is cryptography. There is a concern that attempts to crack security coding with the legitimate goal of improving such security, are actually illegal under this act. Cryptoanalyst Niels Ferguson has made public claims that he will not publish anything related to his security work for Intel, even though it would help other companies protect themselves against similar weaknesses simply because of fears stemming from this law.

The DMCA takedown process also makes for a really handy means of censoring views someone doesn't like[2], due to its assumption that claims of infringement are valid until proven otherwise and the near total lack of consequences for false takedown notices.

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