In 1998, the U.S. passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a multi-part act that was an attempt to update copyright law for the digital era. One of the provisions in the DMCA is known as the safe harbor provisions and those provisions specifically deal with that hosts and other intermediaries face for copyright infringement via third parties.
The “big idea” of the law is simple: Sites that host content for third parties, namely users, should not be liable for copyright infringement so long as they don’t have actual knowledge of the infringement, remove content quickly upon proper notification and do not receive financial benefit when they are able to control the activity.
This law, as controversial as it can be, is designed to both protect hosts from liability and give rightsholders an easy way to remove infringing material. It’s also enabled many of the Web’s best-loved sites as Facebook, YouTube and even Google likely couldn’t exist without these protections.
However, the law also left a great deal open to interpretation and created areas of uncertainty. Slowly, some of those legal gray areas have been coming before the courts and two rulings, both from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, sheds some light into them.
The first case involves the video streaming site Veoh and the second looks at the Bittorrent tracker IsoHunt. Two very different sites looking at the same issue with two very different outcomes.
Here’s a look at what went down and what it likely means for safe harbor moving forward.Continue Reading