What are DMCA Notices?

Context

  • Recently, Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology and for Law and Justice was locked out of his Twitter account for violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

About Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) oversees the implementation of two 1996 treaties signed by World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) member nations.

    Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
    Credit: stubbsalderton

  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, is a 1998 law passed in the US and is among the world’s first laws recognising intellectual property on the internet.
  • The law oversees the implementation of the two treaties signed and agreed upon by member nations of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in 1996.
  • WIPO members had in December 1996 agreed upon two treaties, namely the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.
    • Both the treaties require member nations and signatories to provide in their respective jurisdictions, 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, accorded by each member state, must not be any less in any way than the one being given to a domestic copyright holder.
    • Further, it also obligates that signatories to the treaty ensure ways to prevent circumvention of the technical measures used to protect copyrighted work. It also provides the necessary international legal protection to digital content.

What is WIPO and how does it ensure protection of content on the internet?

  • With the rapid commercialisation of internet in late 1990s which started with static advertisement panels being displayed on the internet, 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, as the Internet expanded worldwide, 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, which was established in 1967, also 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.

Who can generate a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice and how are they sent to companies or websites?

  • Any content creator of any form, who believes that their original content has been copied by user or a website without authorisation can file an application citing their intellectual property has been stolen or violated.
  • Users can either approach the website on which the content has been hosted, or third party service providers like DMCA.com, which utilise a team of experts to help take down the stolen content for a small fee.
  • Platforms, however, also give the other users against whom allegations of content cheating have been made, a chance to reply to the DMCA notice by filing a counter notice.
  • The platform shall then decide which party is telling the truth, and shall accordingly, either restore the content or keep it hidden.

Back to basics

What is WIPO?

  • WIPO is one of the oldest specialised agencies of United Nations.
  • WIPO was created in 1967 “to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world”.
  • WIPO currently administers 26 international treaties.
  • It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • WIPO currently has 191 member states.
  • All member states of the UN are entitled, though not obliged, to become members of the specialized agencies like WIPO.
  • 188 of UN member states as well as Cook Islands, Holy See and Niue are members of WIPO.
  • Palestine has permanent observer status.
  • Some 250 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) have official observer status at WIPO meetings.
  • India joined WIPO in 1975.

India’s accession to WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performers and Phonograms Treaty

  • India has approved the proposal submitted by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry regarding accession to the WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performers and Phonograms Treaty which extends coverage of copyright to the internet and digital environment.
  • The approval is a step towards the objective laid in the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy adopted by the Government on 12th May 2016 which aims to get value for IPRs through commercialization by providing guidance and support to EPR owners about commercial opportunities of e-commerce through Internet and mobile platforms.

Benefits:

Meeting the demand of the copyright industries, these treaties will help India:

  • To enable creative right-holders enjoy the fruit of their labour, through international copyright system that can be used to secure a return on the investment made in producing and distributing creative works;
  • To facilitate international protection of domestic rights holder by providing them level-playing field in other countries as India already extends protection to foreign works through the International Copyright order and these treaties will enable Indian right holders to get reciprocal protection abroad;
  • To instil confidence and distribute creative works in digital environment with return on investment; and
  • To spur business growth and contribute to the development of a vibrant creative economy and cultural landscape.

India has acceded the following treaty:

  • WIPO Copyright Treaty
    • A special agreement under the Berne Convention which deals with the protection of works and the rights of their authors in the digital environment.
  • WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty
    • Deals with the rights of two kinds of beneficiaries, particularly in the digital environment:
      • performers (actors, singers, musicians, etc.); and
      • producers of phonograms (persons or legal entities that take the initiative and have the responsibility for the fixation of sounds).
  • Budapest Treaty
    • International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure.
  • Madrid Protocol for the International Registration of Marks
    • Provides for the international registration of trade marks by way of one application that can cover more than one country.
  • Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities
    • The treaty allows for copyright exceptions to facilitate the creation of accessible versions of books and other copyrighted works for visually impaired persons.

Source: IE


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