The DMCA is one of the foundational laws of the Internet as we know it. This grand statement is true primarily because of the safe harbor provisions in the law. So, what is the DMCA safe harbor exactly and why does it matter?
DMCA Safe Harbor
In this video, we summarize the safe harbors – there are four – and discuss their significance in helping foster digital innovation.
The powers that be in Washington, D.C. did masterful work in protecting what was then a young commercial Internet. While the DMCA addresses copyright issues only, Congress passed other laws designed to facilitate digital growth.
For example, consider the over the top nature of some of the conversations on Twitter. To suggest many of the debates get out of control is to suggest snow is cold. How could Congress protect sites from resulting legal claims such as defamation? We find the answer in the Communication Decency Act – Section 230 – which gives websites and apps immunity from legal claims such as defamation associated with material published by users such as text statements or nasty memes. In short, protection much like the DMCA safe harbor.
Maybe Al Gore really did create the net.
Looking at the DMCA as a stand-alone law is a mistake. It and Acts similar to it need to be taken together to understand what Congress was attempting to achieve [the growth of the infant web] and just how well that process has worked out.
What is the DMCA safe harbor? While it provides immunity from copyright claims associated with user-generated content, Congress went beyond the DMCA safe harbor to create a secure growth medium for businesses online. And, thus, we have the Internet as we know it today.
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