In 2010, the government started taking aggressive action towards companies violating copyright laws.
Copyright law has been used for over 50 years to protect works of authorship, such as books, movies, music, and art. However, nothing has changed the landscape of copyright law as much as the Internet.
Copyright law now protects electronic expressions of works of authorship for websites, complete webpages, and the underlying graphics and multimedia content (i.e. Flash, MP3s, AVIs). So, you can now have a copyright for a webpage as well as for graphic art contained within the page.
Copyright protection entitles the author to keep people from copying, using, or otherwise displaying their work without permission; if someone violates these rights of the author, then they’re guilty of copyright infringement.
Because creating a website and building content (or stealing it from other websites) is so easy and cheap to do, copyright laws are bent and broken with alarming frequency.
And, with the rise of social networking and posting sites, the large increase of pilfered content by members is not totally unexpected. Threats, letters, and lawsuits abound, often with website owners, who are legitimately trying to follow the law, caught between the rights of their membership and the legal rights of the copyright holders.
To address this untenable situation, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was created to give copyright owners further protection from Internet infringements and, at the same time, to give website owners an opportunity to respond without the need to hire a lawyer every time someone complains.
By following the “safe harbor” provisions of the DMCA, a website or blog owner acknowledges that if a copyright holder believes there is infringing material on the website, then the website owner will remove it if the copyright holder provides proper notice as specified in the DMCA. The notice also prevents people from abusing website owners with fictitious, unsubstantiated requests.
If you operate a website or blog where you have member-posted content, you need to have a DMCA Takedown Notice on your website to help protect yourself from both copyright holders and your members.