DMCA and Libraries

The following summarizes the key sections of the DMCA that relate to libraries. For more in-depth analysis of the DMCA and its impact on libraries:

Title I: New Prohibitions On Circumvention Of Protection Technologies:

  • Prohibits the "circumvention" of any effective "technological protection measure" (e.g., a password or form of encryption) used by a copyright holder to restrict access to its material
  • Prohibits the manufacture of any device, or the offering of any service, primarily designed to defeat an effective "technological protection measure"
  • Defers the effective date of these prohibitions for two years and 18 months, respectively
  • Requires that the Librarian of Congress issue a three-year waiver from the anti-circumvention prohibition when there is evidence that the new law adversely affects or may adversely affect "fair use" and other non-infringing uses of any class of work
  • Expressly states that many valuable activities based on the "fair use" doctrine (including reverse engineering, security testing, privacy protection and encryption research) will not constitute illegal "anti-circumvention"
  • Makes no change to the "fair use" doctrine or to other information user privileges and rights

Title II: Limitations On Online Service Provider Liability

  • Exempts any OSP or carrier of digital information (including libraries) from copyright liability because of the content of a transmission made by a user of the provider's or carrier's system (e.g., the user of a library computer system)
  • Establishes a mechanism for a provider to avoid copyright infringement liability due to the storage of infringing information on an OSP's own computer system, or the use of "information location tools" and hyperlinks, if the provider acts "expeditiously to remove or disable access to" infringing material identified in a formal notice by the copyright holder

Title IV: Digital Preservation

This section updates the current preservation provision of the Copyright Act (Sec. 108) to:

  • expressly permit authorized institutions to make up to three, digital preservation copies of an eligible copyrighted work
  • electronically "loan" those copies to other qualifying institutions
  • permit preservation, including by digital means, when the existing format in which the work has been stored becomes obsolete