Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Links, excerpts, articles and the DMCA

Dear Rich: I set up a blog aggregator. I don't have ads or anything, it's just for me and a few friends to use. I include excerpts of articles, links to the original articles, and some of the full posts of the original articles. Somebody claimed that I violated their copyright, sent a DMCA complaint to my webhost, who then took my site down without any notification or chance for me to make a correction. My host is now claiming that they have to immediately take the entire website down, without notice, because of the 1998 DMCA. I read about the DMCA at the Copyright Office website.  It doesn't say that a website has to come down immediately (or even seem to be very clear on how much written material constitutes 'infringement'). I'm a little confused, as most of this is new to me. Could you offer some insight? I'm so glad you asked. As for the content at your site: According to the Dear Rich staff, there is no problem with the links in hypertext form. Reproducing full articles is probably an infringement; providing excerpts is disputable. We presume a copyright owner sent a take-down notice to your online service provider (OSP), who acted "expeditiously" and removed the infringing content. By removing the material, the OSP qualifies for a "safe harbor" from any liability. If you dispute the notice -- many are abusive -- and you're willing to risk a court battle, consider a counter notice. (Here are samples and more information.) If the complaining copyright owner fails to respond to your counter notice by filing a lawsuit (uh-oh!), the OSP may re-post your content. These rules and procedures are part of the news-friendly Digital Millennium Copyright Act.