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There are many domain name service providers (DMCA ignored) that can help you to avoid the negative consequences of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA is a United States law that imposes harsh penalties on those who violate copyright laws. If you violate the DMCA, you could be fined up to $150,000 and imprisoned for up to five years.
The DMCA was enacted in 1998 to protect copyrighted works in the digital age. The law makes it illegal to produce or distribute devices that can be used to circumvent copyright protection measures, such as DVD ripping software. It also criminalizes the act of circumventing copyright protection measures, even if no copyrighted material is actually infringed upon.
The problem with the DMCA is that it’s often used to stifle legitimate speech and innovation. For example, in 2012, YouTube user Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that copyright holders must consider whether a use of their copyrighted material is fair before sending a takedown notice under the DMCA.
The court said that copyright holders must consider whether the use is for a nonprofit educational purpose, whether it transforms the copyrighted work into a new creation, or whether it is merely a copy of the work that happens to be posted online. If any of these factors are present, then the use is likely protected by fair use doctrine and the copyright holder cannot send a takedown notice.
The DMCA has also been used to shut down websites that provide information about how to bypass copyright protection measures. One well-known example is DeCSS, a program that allows DVDs to be played on Linux operating systems. When the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) learned about DeCSS, they sent a cease-and-desist letter to the website hosting the program, claiming that it violated the DMCA.
The website owner complied with the letter and took down DeCSS, but someone else soon posted it elsewhere. This pattern continued, with the MPAA sending letters to hundreds of websites hosting DeCSS. Finally, the MPAA sued one of the website owners, Eric Corley, and won an injunction against him distributing DeCSS.
Corley appealed the injunction, but it was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled that because DeCSS can be used to violate copyright law, it was not entitled to First Amendment protection as free speech.
This ruling set a dangerous precedent, as it effectively made it illegal to post any information about how to bypass copyright protection measures, even if that information could also be used for legitimate purposes. Thankfully, this precedent was overturned by Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., mentioned above.
Despite this ruling, the DMCA continues to be used to censor speech and stifle innovation. If you want to avoid being caught in its crosshairs, you should consider using a domain name service provider (DMCA ignored) that doesn’t comply with takedown notices from copyright holders.
There are many such providers, including Namecheap, Hover, and Gandi.net. These providers have all publicly stated that they will not take down websites in response to DMCA takedown notices unless ordered to do so by a court.
Using one of these providers does not guarantee that your website will never be taken down, as a court could still order them to do so. However, it does make it much less likely that your website will be taken down simply because someone claims that you’re infringing on their copyright.