History and Overview of the DMCA
What is the DMCA?
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is an amendment to the copyright laws of the United States. The DMCA was enacted in response to the apparent lack of laws that addressed the nature of technology and how it affects the older copyright laws.
Reasons for Enactment
The growing opinion of people was that new technologies allowed users to freely transfer music, texts, and other works of art to other people. The internet made downloading music, text and movies easier than ever before.
Copyright holders felt that many of the laws currently on the books did not provide enough protections for their works.
Alongside the copyright holders demands for more protections foreign governments were demanding more protection for copyright holders in their countries. For instance, the United States demanded that China enforce international copyright laws by finding and prosecuting software pirates and other violators of U.S. copyrights.
The US signed two treaties that offered more protections for international copyright holders and also addressed technology issues relevant to keeping copyrights safe. These treaties, the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT), and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT), were signed by the United States in December of 1996 and ratified by Congress.
These treaties were written with the intention of extending around the world protections for copyright holders in their respective countries. They motivated the United States to pass laws recognizing copyrights from other countries.