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Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA)

The Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA) is a portion of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act known as DMCA 512 or the DMCA takedown provisions. It is a 1998 United States federal law that provided a safe harbor to online service providers (OSPs, including internet service providers) that promptly take down content if someone alleges it infringes their copyrights.

Section 512 was added to the Copyright law in Title 17 of the United States Code (Public Law No. 105-304, 112 Stat. 2860, 2877).

This provision of United States copyright law is best known for allowing copyright holders to ask that an online service provider (OSP, including ISPs) remove access to copyright infringing material if the copyrighted material is made available through the OSP. It is a powerful device for the protection of copyright on the internet for providers that are located in the United States, though many foreign providers may also respond to such requests for fear of litigation in the United States should they have any significant business interests in the U.S.

In exchange for this, the OSP gains:

  • new protection from liability to its own customers as a result of a decision to remove material.
  • clear procedures for removing and restoring material.
  • a safe harbor against copyright infringement claims, similar to the protection against non-intellectual property infringement liability provided by Section 230 the Communications Decency Act (CDA).

Customers gain through a reduced chance that works will be removed unnecessarily by an OSP which hasn’t received an infringement complaint.

4 comments on Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA)

  1. As I understand the law:

    • Section 512 of OCILLA is a takedown provision for OSPs including ISPs.

    • When neither designation applies to a corporation which, without the permission of, and unbeknown to, the copyright holder, sells an infringing image on its site for its own profit and that of an affiliate company contracted by the corporation, presumably the corporation is liable.

    • And, presumably, the Oops defense is no defense (reference Federal statement of liability by Eric Holder, citing BP’s “failure”), especially when the copyright holder’s name is clearly displayed on an image.

    Please confirm that OCILLA has no bearing on such an infringement.


  2. i hired someone to create a website and years later i received an email that i had copy righted pictures in it that i had not paid for. As soon as i was informed i took down the website and replaced the images. under the safe harbor law i’m i still responsible?

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