Intellectual Property Rights in India

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Mains level : GoI-Twitter row

Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology was locked out of his Twitter account for an hour allegedly over a notice received for violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Why such a move by Twitter?

  • The DMCA oversees the implementation of two 1996 treaties signed by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) member nations.

What is the DMCA?

  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, is a 1998 law passed in the US and is among the world’s first laws recognizing intellectual property on the internet.
  • The law oversees the implementation of the two treaties signed and agreed upon by member nations of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1996.
  • WIPO members had then agreed upon two treaties, namely the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.
  • The said protection, accorded by each member state, must not be any less in any way than the one being given to a domestic copyright holder.
  • Further, it also obligates those signatories to the treaty to ensure ways to prevent circumvention of the technical measures used to protect copyrighted work.
  • It also provides the necessary international legal protection to digital content.

What is WIPO and how does it ensure the protection of content on the internet?

  • The rapid commercialization of the internet in the late 1990s started with static advertisement panels being displayed on the internet.
  • It became important for website owners to get the user to spend more time on their webpage.
  • For this, fresh content was generated by creators and shared over the Internet.
  • The problem started when the content would be copied by unscrupulous websites or users, who did not generate content on their own.
  • Further, as the Internet expanded worldwide, websites from countries other than the one where the content originated, also started to copy the unique content generated by the websites.
  • To avoid this and bring to task the unauthorized copiers, the members of WIPO, which was established in 1967, also agreed to extend the copyright and intellectual property protection to digital content.
  • As of date, 193 nations across the world, including India, are members of WIPO.

Who can generate a DMCA notice and how are they sent to companies or websites?

  • Any content creator of any form, who believes that their original content has been copied by the user or a website without authorization can file an application citing their intellectual property has been stolen or violated.
  • Users can either approach the website on which the content has been hosted, or third-party service providers like DMCA.com, which utilize a team of experts to help take down the stolen content for a small fee.
  • In the case of social media intermediaries like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, content creators can directly approach the platform with proof of them being original creators.
  • Since these companies operate in nations that are signatories to the WIPO treaty, they are obligated to remove the said content if they receive a valid and legal DMCA takedown notice.
  • Platforms, however, also give the other users against whom allegations of content cheating have been made, a chance to reply to the DMCA notice by filing a counter-notice.
  • The platform shall then decide which party is telling the truth and shall accordingly, either restore the content or keep it hidden.
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