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Frequently Asked Question #381. Common copyright/DMCA questions and misconceptions

I received an email saying one of my entries or images was suspended for copyright infringement, what does this mean?

Under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), online service providers must process any notice of copyright infringement they receive which meets the criteria set forth in the law. What this means is, if LiveJournal receives a properly formed notice of copyright infringement, we must disable access to the material and notify the user who posted that material.

I think I have a legal right to use material that was reported for copyright infringement, how do I contest this?

The DMCA gives people who have been reported for copyright infringement a way to legally dispute this called a counter-notification. We encourage everyone to consult a lawyer before filing a counter-notification. Filing a counter-notification means you are willing to go to court and accept any consequences for continuing to use the material if the court does not rule in your favor. You will be required to release some information about yourself sufficient for the party which filed the complaint to bring a lawsuit against you.

Additionally, LiveJournal is required to disable access to the material for 10 business days after a counter-notification is received to allow for the party which reported the material to file a lawsuit. Information on how to file a counter-notification is available at http://www.livejournal.com/legal/dmca.bml.

I think my content qualifies as Fair Use.

LiveJournal cannot determine what is or is not Fair Use. The DMCA requires us to disable access to the reported material, and we can only restore it after going through the counter-notification process.

I don't want to file a counter-notification, I think this process is unfair.

The DMCA provides a very clear process for service providers like LiveJournal to follow when handling reports of copyright infringement. We try to handle these reports as fairly as we can, but we do have to stay within the boundaries of the law.

I received an email saying I'm going to be suspended if I get reported for copyright infringement again. Why do you have to suspend me, and how can I avoid this?

Under the DMCA, service providers are required to refuse service to repeat copyright infringers. This is a legal requirement with very little room for leniency. If we receive multiple copyright complaints about content you have posted, we will be forced to remove all accounts you own and block your access to the site. The only exception we can make is if you have filed a counter-notification regarding one of more of the reports of copyright infringement.
Common misconceptions about copyright

Misconception: If it's posted somewhere else on the internet, I can repost it anywhere I want.
Reality: Posting content to the internet does not necessarily give you the right to repost it elsewhere. While it's typically safe to include a link to an article or image, posting that content yourself without the copyright holder's permission can still be a violation of their rights.

Misconception: I linked to the source/credited the author when I reposted my entry, so it doesn't violate their copyright.
Reality: It's generally considered good etiquette to link to the original source of something, or credit the author, but this does not necessarily change whether or not your use of the material violates their copyright. Your reproduction of their content can still potentially be a copyright violation.

Misconception: If I make some changes to the entry/image, it's not copyright infringement.
Reality: If you are reproducing a substantial portion of the original work, it could still qualify as copyright infringement. What qualifies as "substantial" is difficult to define, and if you're unsure if something you have modified might qualify as a copyright infringement, it is best to either consult an attorney or remove/do not post the material.

Last Updated: August 27th, 2012

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