The DMCA was passed by Congress in 1998 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The law is a response to the explosive growth of the Internet in the 1990s, and it includes provisions that affect all websites that invite users to post content.
An important part of the DMCA shields interactive websites from liability for copyright infringement that occurs when third parties post copyright-infringing materials on the sites. For example, a broadcast station’s website is not liable for copyright infringement when someone not associated with the website – a third party – posts a clip of a copyrighted movie or song on the website. In that case, only the third-party poster is legally responsible. The website is legally responsible only for copyright-infringing materials it posts on the site.
The DMCA also provides a simple way for copyright holders to request the takedown of their copyrighted materials and encourages websites to respond to those takedown requests.
For a website to take advantage of the DMCA’s protection against copyright-infringement liability, the website must follow the rules set out in the statute. These are the basic steps:
Designate a person to receive DMCA takedown notices and register that person – your agent – with the U.S. Copyright Office. You’ll have to pay a $105 filing fee. The Copyright Office keeps a list of designated agents to help those who think their copyrights have been violated to know to whom to send a takedown notice.
Post on your site your DMCA agent’s contact information and your policies regarding copyright infringement and the consequences of repeated copyright infringement. You should say you respond quickly to takedown notices and do not tolerate repeat infringement and follow through on those promises. This information can appear in your website’s terms of service or elsewhere on the site, but display it prominently.
Respond expeditiously to takedown notices.
For more detail on how to meet the requirements for DMCA protection and to learn how to prepare a proper DMCA takedown notice, visit the website of the Citizen Media Law Project at http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/protecting-yourself-against-copyright-claims-based-user-content.
 17 U.S.C. § 512 (1998).