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Protection of Intellectual Property Online - DMCA Notice

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June 29, 2021

Why in news?

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was locked out of his Twitter account for an hour, allegedly over a notice received for violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

What is the DMCA?

  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, is a 1998 law passed in the US.
  • It is among the world’s first laws recognising intellectual property on the internet.
  • It was signed into law by the then US President Bill Clinton.
  • It oversees the implementation of the two treaties signed and agreed upon by member nations of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in 1996.
  • These are the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

Why did the treaties come into place?

  • There was rapid commercialisation of internet in late 1990s.
  • This started with static advertisement panels being displayed on the internet.
  • With this, 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, with expansion, 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 unauthorised copiers, the members of WIPO 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 which was established in 1967.

What do the treaties mandate?

  • Both the treaties require member nations and signatories to provide in their respective jurisdictions the below.
  • - Protection to intellectual property that may have been created by citizens of different nations who are also co-signatories to the treaty.
  • The said protection must not be any less than the one being given to a domestic copyright holder.
  • They also obligate that signatories ensure ways to prevent circumvention of the technical measures used to protect copyrighted work.
  • They also provide the necessary international legal protection to digital content.

What happens with violation, and how does DMCA work?

  • Content creators of any form who believe that their original content has been copied by user or a website without authorisation can file an application.
  • It can be filed citing that their intellectual property had been stolen or violated.
  • They can approach the website on which the content has been hosted, or third party service providers like DMCA.com.
  • These third party service providers utilise 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.
  • They should have a proof of them being original creators.
  • These companies operate in nations which are signatories to the WIPO treaty.
  • So, 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 notice.
  • The platform shall then decide which party is telling the truth, and shall accordingly, either restore the content or keep it hidden.


Source: The Indian Express

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