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Are Internet Service Providers Liable for Their Customer’s Copyright Violations?

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When browsing the web, you may be disheartened when you find your content on a webpage that isn’t associated with you. Though the person infringing on your content can be held liable, you may wonder if the website that hosts the page can also face responsibility. Understanding who can be responsible for copyright violations is essential to ensuring you can receive the compensation you are entitled to. Keep reading to learn whether or not internet service providers can be liable for the actions of their customers and how copyright infringement lawyers can protect your content from thieves.

What Does the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Say?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) details how to handle copyright violations via technology and the Internet while detailing the responsibilities and obligations of Internet Service Providers.

Generally, this act protects content creators by making it illegal to create machines and software to circumvent anti-piracy measures. If you create technology to evade these measures, you are in violation of the DCMA.

Another essential measure established in this act is the increased protection for creators by allowing them to file takedown notices. This allows owners and creators of content to inform a web hosting platform of their ownership, so the hoster can remove the content.

Generally, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not liable for a customer who infringes upon the rights of copyright creators and owners. Under the DMCA, ISPs are shielded under a safe harbor provision. To keep their harbor, they must comply with any takedown notices, have an agent to deal with infringement complaints, must be unaware of the infringement, and cannot benefit financially from the material.

When Can Internet Service Providers Face Liability?

To be held liable for copyright infringement, they must meet specific circumstances. However, these are few and far between.

This includes direct infringement, which occurs when an ISP knows there is copyrighted material and financially benefits from its inclusion on the website. Vicarious liability occurs when an ISP has the ability to control its users and again receives direct financial benefit, and contributory infringement when they are aware of the infringement even if they did not engage with or benefit from the violation.

It is necessary to understand that in instances where Internet Service Providers are found liable, it is almost always through contributory infringement. However, depending on the terms of service, ISPs may inadvertently establish the ability to control their customers.

When you discover your content is infringed upon, you must take the necessary steps to receive justice. At CopyCat Legal, our dedicated team can help you create a DMCA takedown notice and elevate the matter if the ISP does not comply. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you receive justice for the infringement of your creations.

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