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Intellectual property

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

In 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which amended U.S. copyright law (The Copyright Act of 1976) to address important parts of the relationship between copyright and the internet. The three main updates to copyright law were:

• establishing protections for online service providers in certain situations if their users engage in copyright infringement, including by creating the notice-and-takedown system, which allows copyright owners to inform online service providers about infringing material so it can be taken down;

• encouraging copyright owners to give greater access to their works in digital formats by providing them with legal protections against unauthorized access to their works (for example, hacking passwords or circumventing encryption); and

• making it unlawful to provide false copyright management information (for example, names of authors and copyright owners, titles of works) or to remove or alter that type of information in certain circumstances.

The DMCA is in the United States Code (federal statutes) at 17 U.S.C. §§512, 1201-1205, 1301-1332; and 28 U.S.C. §4001.

In Texas, as in all states, the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 applies. The DMCA provides a framework for balancing the rights of copyright owners with the needs of online service providers. It establishes a safe harbor for online service providers, shielding them from liability for copyright infringement by their users under certain conditions, provided they follow the notice-and-takedown procedure. This procedure allows copyright owners to notify service providers of infringing material so it can be removed. Additionally, the DMCA protects copyright owners by making it illegal to circumvent technological measures that control access to copyrighted works and by providing legal remedies against those who distribute tools for such circumvention. It also prohibits providing false copyright management information or altering such information under specific circumstances. These federal provisions are directly applicable in Texas and do not require additional state legislation to be effective.

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