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What is the DMCA and how does it work?

An overview of the DMCA and what you need to know.

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The DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA grants online service providers (such as Facebook, Twitch and Youtube) certain “safe harbor” protections from copyright infringement liability as long as they meet certain requirements. This means that these service providers can not be held directly liable for infringing content streamed or posted by its creators, as long as it complies with the rules of the DMCA.

Two common requirements are that the company implement a “notice-and-takedown” system and the company cancel the accounts of repeat infringers.

The DMCA Process

A DMCA takedown notices typically result from a formal notice of copyright infringement from the copyright holder to the service provider about your broadcast. A proper DMCA takedown notice from the copyright holder must identify the infringing material clearly and specifically and state that they have a “good faith belief” that the material infringes their copyright. Here's an example of what such as notice might look like:


When you receive such a notice, you have two options. You can accept the takedown notice, or you can file a counter-notice.

Sending a DMCA Counter-notice

If you believe your content has been taken down in error, or wish to contest a DMCA notice, you can submit a counter-notice to the service provider.  A successful counter-notification will typically remove any "strikes" against your account relating to the particular notice. A counter-notification must include:

(A) your physical or electronic signature;

(B) an identification of the material that has been removed or to which access has been disabled and the location at which the material appeared before it was removed or access to it was disabled;

(C) a statement under penalty of perjury that you have a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled;

(D) your name, address, and telephone number; and

(E) a statement that you consent to the jurisdiction of Federal District Court for the judicial district in which you reside, or if you live outside of the United States, for any judicial district in which Twitch may be found, and that you will accept service of process from the organization or an agent of the organization.

Unless the copyright holder files a copyright infringement lawsuit against you after receiving your counter-notice, your content will typically be restored to the platform. If the copyright holder does file a lawsuit against you, expect the content to remain offline until the lawsuit is resolved.

Repeat Infringement

As part of the DMCA, companies are required to implement a repeat infringer policy. If your account is subject to multiple successful claims, you can expect that account to be terminated.