Copyright notices are used to inform users that their published work contains material owned and copyrighted by another individual, group, or entity. A formal copyright notice informs users and the general public that a work contains copyright-protected material while also listing the copyright owner and the year the copyrighted material was first published.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
Signed by former President Bill Clinton on October 28, 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) regulates copyright law in regard to digital material. As a digital rights management (DRM) law, however, the DMCA has often proven controversial in its handling of some of the unique challenges that stem from the practice of regulating digital material.
DMCA Takedown Notice
DMCA Takedown Notices are issued to remove copyrighted material from websites in response to a request from copyright or content owners. These notices are issued under specific conditions in which users publishing copyrighted material either voluntarily remove the infringing material or have it involuntarily removed by their ISP or webhosting companies. More specifically, the issuance of takedown notices results in the following:
- Website owners remove copyright-infringing material themselves after receiving a DMCA Takedown Notice (representing the copyright or content owner) from their ISP or webhosting companies.
- Website owners remove copyright-infringing material themselves after receiving a DMCA Takedown Notice directly from the copyright or content owner, publisher, etc., or on their behalf.
- ISP or webhosting companies remove copyright-infringing material from a user’s website because the website owner has failed to voluntarily honor the DMCA Takedown Notice. ISP and webhosting companies have a legal obligation to remove copyright-infringing material when publishers of copyrighted material refuse to comply with a DMCA Takedown Notice.
- ISP or webhosting companies take down a website that is deemed to contain copyright-infringing material upon the receipt of a DMCA Takedown Notice. This is another action that can be taken by ISP or webhosting companies when individual website owners fail to comply with DMCA Takedown Notices.
Cease and Desist
Cease and desist letters are documents that contain actionable legal threats against those deemed to be engaging in unlawful individual or business activity. Often, cease and desist letters threaten that if individuals or businesses do not permanently stop (cease) a certain unlawful activity, they will be sued. Cease and desist letters also require that individuals and businesses must not reengage in said unlawful practice at any time after the cessation of the activity (desist). While they are not legally-binding documents, cease and desist letters often hold considerable legal power, as they make individuals and businesses aware that legal action will be taken should they continue to engage in their unlawful behavior.