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Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed on October 28, 1998, to address the circumvention of technical locks on copyrighted digital products.

Copyright owners have the exclusive rights for a period of time to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, and display the work publicly; they can legally enforce these rights subject to defenses such as “fair use.”

When copyrighted materials are in a digital format, such as DVD movies or software, they can be reproduced and manipulated quickly, easily, and in mass quantities. To protect these kinds of works from illegal reproduction, copyright owners often implement digital or technical protection devices such as encryption, passwords, or digital watermarks, but copyright infringers may still be able to circumvent these measures. The DMCA is an attempt to legally enforce digital protection systems.

Internet Service Providers
Copyright infringement of digital media also raised the question of whether online service providers (any company that provides Internet access and/or e-mail accounts to its customers or employees) could be held responsible for the actions of their users. In many instances, online services are used in violating the copyright. Users go online and exchange software that defeats the copy protection on digital products or users download illegal copies of a digital file. This is often referred to as "filesharing." As a result, the DMCA was also drafted to allow online service providers to not be penalized for the actions of their users.

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