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The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

On October 12, 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a complex piece of legislation which makes major changes in U.S. copyright law to address the digitally networked environment. The President is expected to sign the DMCA shortly. This memorandum discusses the law’s five titles which: (1) implement the WIPO Internet Treaties; (2) establish safe harbors for online service providers; (3) permit temporary copies of programs during the performance of computer maintenance; (4) make miscellaneous amendments to the Copyright Act, including amendments which facilitate Internet broadcasting; and (5) create sui generis protection for boat hull designs. A controversial title establishing database protection was omitted by the House-Senate Conference, as was a provision which would have reversed the Supreme Court’s decision in Quality King v. L’anza, 118 S. Ct. 1125 (1998), which concerned parallel imports.


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