In the online world, the potentially infringing activities of individuals are stored and transmitted through the networks of third parties. Web site hosting services, Internet service providers, and search engines that link to materials on the Web are just some of the service providers that transmit materials created by others. Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protects online service providers (OSPs) from liability for information posted or transmitted by subscribers if they quickly remove or disable access to material identified in a copyright holder's complaint.
In order to qualify for safe harbor protection, a service provider who hosts content must:
- have no knowledge of, or financial benefit from, infringing activity on its network
- have a copyright policy and provide proper notification of that policy to its subscribers
- list an agent to deal with copyright complaints
While the safe harbor provisions provide a way for individuals to object to the removal of their materials once taken down, they do not require service providers to notify those individuals before their allegedly infringing materials are removed. If the material on your site does not infringe the intellectual property rights of a copyright owner and it has been improperly removed from the Web, you can file a counter-notice with the service provider, who must transmit it to the person who made the complaint. If the copyright owner does not notify the service provider within 14 business days that it has filed a claim against you in court, your materials can be restored to the Internet.