HOSTING DMCA Explanation

Many customers and visitors to our customer’s sites have questions about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. We’ve prepared this guide to help answer these questions. This guide doesn’t take the place of, or supplement, our contracts. We simply seek to provide a convenient place to answer questions we’ve received. You should always contact a qualified professional if you have any legal questions about the DMCA or copyright issues.


The DMCA limits web host’s liability for vicarious and contributory copyright infringement when their users infringe a third party’s copyright. The penalties for knowingly engaging in vicarious copyright infringement can be up to three times the damages caused by the infringement. However, if a web host follows the procedures set out in the DMCA, they are not liable for their customer’s copyright infringement. This is referred to as “Safe Harbor.” Web hosts are also not responsible for actions they take based on notifications they receive that are in compliance with the DMCA. Accordingly, it is in HOSTING’s business interests to follow the procedures of the DMCA.

The Process

Web hosts, entities providing notice of copyright infringement, and the targets of those notices are required to meet very strict criteria set out in the DMCA. These criteria are not negotiable, and cannot be varied by the participants in the process. What this means is that HOSTING cannot take into account any traditional defenses to copyright infringement like “fair use” or “public domain.” Nor can HOSTING vary the criteria required of DMCA notices or responses. While HOSTING values reasons why it should vary its procedures, the DMCA does not provide HOSTING the flexibility to do so.

Our Position

HOSTING recognizes that the DMCA is an imperfect law, and frequently receives comments pointing out how the DMCA may have been used for purposes possibly not intended by Congress. To the extent possible given its corporate and legal obligations, HOSTING attempts to mitigate these uses for its customers. The fact is, however, that the DMCA provides very little room for HOSTING to take these actions. For this reason, HOSTING encourages those who feel that the DMCA has been used for inappropriate purposes to contact their legislators and let them know how their business has been affected.