Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act
The Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act is found under Title II of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which creates provisions that prevent online service providers and internet service providers a source of protection against copyright infringement liability.
Such a movement became necessary because of the vast amounts of information that can be transferred and accessed via the internet, and the plausibility for copyright infringement is of real concern.
This Section provides for the various provisions, eligibility requirements, and exceptions that must be met or adhered to by service providers to be protected from copyright infringement implications and potential legal consequences.
The legislation allows for the classification of four limitations on liability for service providers such as transitory communications, system caching, storage of information, and information location tools or linking. Service providers must adhere to the specific requirements outlined for each classified action or situation in order to be exempt from possible infringement liability.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act addresses the common issue of circumvention of technological means for obtaining or accessing copyrighted material without permission or proper authorization. Such measures are imposed in order to prevent the illicit use, copying, and tampering of copyrighted works or materials.
Often, the circumvention of such protection measures is for the purpose of piracy, making copies of copyrighted works with the intention of illegal distribution for the ultimate purpose of monetary gain. However, in certain situations, the circumvention of security measures is necessary to access or legitimately or lawfully use copyrighted works or materials. Such exemptions are reviewed and can be amended every three years.
The exemptions are proposed by the public and submitted to the United States Copyright Office. Each exemption remains valid for the three year period until new proposal hearings are held. Prior exemptions made in past hearings expire with each time a hearing is held and, thus, must be proposed again for re-evaluation every three years.
The purpose behind the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is to simply curb and restrict the occurrence of copyright infringement and violations that are susceptible to occur in various ways. Concurrently, it also allows for the prevention of holding liable certain parties, such as service providers, for copyright infringement that is not directly committed by them, but more accurately, users of their services or third-party entities.
However, the restrictions, regulations, and exemptions have been the topic of controversy, citing reasons such as copyright holders taking advantage of the legislation and abusing their power to control the availability of their copyrighted works or materials to the public.
Scientific research in the cryptology field has also suffered because of the copyright law’s implementations for fear that carrying out their inherent duties in analysis and scientific study of technology can be considered infringement by certain copyright owners, regardless of the exemptions provided by legislation and copyright laws.
Furthermore, many state that the provisions hinder technological innovation and advancement, as well as limit competition due to copyright owners filing infringement suits against other companies that may have similar products, regardless of whether or not they are actually in violation of copyright laws and regulations.