A DMCA Notice notifies a website that there is copyrighted content being used without permission on that site.

A DMCA Policy is a set of rules for how to submit a DMCA Notice for the website and how those notices are processed.

Both are very important for any website that allows users to generate and upload their own content so that the website can be protected from any potential infringement of copyrights.

It’s important that your policy not only go over the generalities of how you process DMCA Notices but also specific instructions for how to submit a notice and how to submit a DMCA Counter Notice. Policies missing these instructions are incomplete, and that could cause some headaches for you in the future if there is a case of possible copyright infringement on your website.

This article will explain what a DMCA Notice and DMCA Policy are in more detail, and help you create your own.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, is a law protecting service providers from responsibility if copyrighted content is uploaded through their service. For example, if a user uploads a copyrighted song onto your website, the DMCA protects you from liability, as long as your site meets certain conditions in your DMCA Policy.

Copyright owners want to make sure that they can control the distribution of their digital property. That means that if someone illegally distributes their works, they can prevent it from being distributed.

The DMCA is only applicable for U.S. businesses. For non-U.S. businesses, this kind of clause is usually called a Copyright Infringement clause instead.

Requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

You’re required by the DMCA to respond to takedown notices and remove any content that users on created and posted on your website or app that they do not own the rights to.

Your platform or online service (which can be a website, a mobile app, a software app, and so on) can allow for user-generated content to be published and made available to the other users, either other registered users or not.

Users need to own the rights to any kind of content they share through your platform. Otherwise, it may constitute infringement of the actual owner’s rights.

If the content users post through your website is copyright infringement and you receive a takedown notice from the copyright owner, you’re required to respond to the takedown if it meets DMCA requirements.

In order for a DMCA Takedown Notice to be sent to you by an author (owner of copyright content) who may have found infringing content on your platform, the notification should meet the following requirements and include the following information:

  • Have an electronic or physical signature of the copyrighted work owner (or authorized person)
  • Include a description of the copyrighted work, including the URL where this infringing content is available or a copy of it
  • Include the contact details of the person submitting the notice: An email address, telephone and address
  • A statement in “good faith belief” that the work is not authorized by the copyright owner
  • A statement by the person who sends the takedown notice that the information included in the notice (all the above information) is accurate and that the person sending the notice is either the copyright owner or authorized to act on the copyright owner’s behalf

Note that there are a number of exceptions to the DMCA. These exempt certain activites related to nonprofit libraries, educational institutions, archiving activites, investigations, protective and security activity and government activity.