The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, or DMCA, is a federal law that increases penalties for online copyright infringement. The DMCA criminalizes circumventing digital rights management software designed to prevent file sharing. The creation and sharing of technology or software that is designed to defeat copyright protections is also criminalized. There are both civil and criminal penalties for violations of the DMCA. Intentional violations of the DMCA can result in monetary damages as well as imprisonment.
The DMCA allows registered copyright owners to file a lawsuit in a federal district court. The federal court has the power to grant injunctions against the defendant to prevent future infringements. The defendant may have to pay actual damages in 2011 up to $2,500 per violation, or statutory damages up to $25,000. The plaintiff may also recover any profits the defendant made from the infringement. Repeat offenders may face triple damages if they violate the DMCA within three years of a judgment.
Copyright violators of the DMCA face large fines and imprisonment. A defendant faces a monetary fine up to $500,000, up to five years in jail, or both a fine and jail for a first offense. Repeat offenders may be fined up to $1,000,000, as long as ten years in prison, or both a fine and prison. Criminal violation of the DMCA occurs when the defendant willfully violated the law for commercial or personal financial gain, such as selling “cracked” copies of copyrighted software.
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