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Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

Last updated: December 20, 2016

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is U.S. copyright legislation that implements the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Performances and Phonograms Treaty and the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty. DMCA prevents the unauthorized duplication of digital copyrighted works by regulating digital intellectual property (IP) owners and consumers. Since DMCA was passed in 1998, similar bills and legislation have been adopted internationally.

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The DMCA includes five titles and was initially criticized for its aggressive nature. Over time, amendments have lifted certain restrictions.

A key DMCA advocacy group is the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a data rights management (DRM) organization. DRM opposition groups, like Chilling Effects, argue that the DMCA's loosely defined, yet restrictive, parameters favor copyright ownership over legitimate online research. The DMCA also has been criticized for bullying undertones.

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