Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

The DMCA addresses anti-circumvention of technology that protects copyrighted works as well as provides protection for Internet Service Providers.  Every three years under the DMCA there is a rulemaking process whereby certain actions are exempted from DMCA violations. The exemptions only last for three years and must either be renewed or they expire.


It is a violation of the DMCA when technology protection software is bypassed to access the underlying copyrighted work. The most common infraction is the ripping of DVD’s and CD’s.  However, there is a rulemaking exception that allows educators to bypass the technology to obtain clips of videos and compile those clips into a work. This exception has now been expanded for use in massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Internet Service Providers (ISP)

An ISP provides a network for users to access the Internet.  They do not monitor the content that is sent over the network.  They are merely a conduit. Most educational institutions are considered ISP’s.  However, ISP’s are required to address and remove any infringing material that is found on their network when they are notified by the copyright owner.  Such notifications are called DMCA notices or DMCA takedown notices.