People often view the DMCA as a sort of magical law that is used by men in black cars, black suits, and black sunglasses to rule over the Internet. Well, not exactly. There is not and will not be a Men In Black – DMCA. So who enforces the DMCA if not Will Smith? Let’s take a look:
So, does the lack of an enforcement agency mean one can just ignore the DMCA? No. While there is no federal agency to police the DMCA and copyright online, copyright owners can pursue federal civil lawsuits for copyright infringement claims once they’ve satisfied the requirements of the DMCA. Put another way, you could end up in court and, while you might not face the prospect of jail time, you could face a significant monetary judgment.
We often see infringement cases that produce multimillion-dollar copyright damage awards. The family of Marvin Gaye, for example, accused Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and Clifford Harris (T.I) of copyright infringement of the song Got to Give It Up and illegally sampling Funkadelic’s Sexy Ways. The jury agreed. The damage award? A smooth 7.4 million dollars. Now, do we have your attention?
Who enforces the DMCA? There is no government agency, but that doesn’t mean the law doesn’t pack a bite – particularly when combined with the Copyright Act.