IP & The Internet Wiki

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law governing intellectual property rights and usage on the internet. It was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President William J. Clinton in 1998. One of the major provisions of the law, the notice and takedown process for removing infringing content from websites, is part of the debate surrounding the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act.


When signed into law, the DMCA implemented two treaties from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalized the production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services that were used to avoid measures that would limit or control access to copyrighted material, as well avoiding access control even if there was not infringement. The DMCA also raised the penalties for infringement over the internet while also limiting the liability of online service providers for copyright infringement carried out by their users.

Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act[]

The Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, abbreviated OCILLA, is a component of the DMCA that protects online service providers from liability if their users upload infringing material onto their servers. This has offered a balance between the interests of copyright holders and those of online users and their hosts.

The key component of OCILLA is what is known as the "Safe Harbor" provision, which is what shields the service providers from liability. This uses the "notice and takedown" provision, whereby a copyright owner will notify a service provider that infringing material has been posted to their service. Provided that the service provider complies with the takedown notice and removes the material from their website, the service provider is shielded from liability.