An Overview of the DMCA
Updated: Sep 8
A Guide for Streamers and Content Creators
What is DMCA?
DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It is part of US copyright law and it helps to protect the rights of owners of copyrighted material, such as songs and videos. Part of the DMCA is a process, called the DMCA Takedown, which enables copyright holders to request the removal of copyrighted material found online (usually because someone else is using their content or reposting it without permission). Nowadays, every website, including all streaming platforms (Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, etc.), has a process for DMCA Takedowns or DMCA Requests.
How does DMCA affect streamers and content creators?
The most common issues streamers and content creators face when it comes to DMCA stem from the unauthorized use of movies or songs. It is never safe to use any portion of a movie or song in your content without permission. This will always be detected by the platform you are posting on, which typically results in muted audio or copyright strikes. Repeated strikes may lead to your account being banned. Therefore, it is very important to ensure you have permission before posting any content that includes someone else’s copyrighted content.
Does DMCA apply outside of the US?
Yes! While DMCA is part of US law, it is widely accepted and applied in the rest of the world. As well, most countries have some sort of process to take down infringing material from the internet. So even though DMCA does not technically apply outside of the USA, most countries will still have very similar laws which function the same as DMCA.
Why is the DMCA needed?
In the past, all copyrighted materials were “analog”. Now that we are in the digital age, it is possible to make an infinite amount of copies of works, and share them online with others. Because of this, protection is needed for copyright holders to prevent others from stealing or pirating or otherwise profiting off of their works and sharing them online without permission.
A musician or painter or filmmaker (or any other type of artist) spends a lot of time and effort creating their final product, and they deserve to control any and all profits.
What type of copyrighted material does DMCA cover?
DMCA Takedowns or Requests can be made for any of the following:
Written text (books, articles, blogs, short stories, etc.
Pictures (personal or business photos)
Artwork (including photos, paintings, drawings or other forms of art)
Songs (music or any type of audio file)
Videos (of any type, including movies and personal videos)
Digital software and any associated code
Who can submit a DMCA Takedown request?
As mentioned above, as soon as you create content, you own the intellectual property rights (including copyright) to this content.
This means that copyright owners and holders, content creators, social media users, distributors, publishers, coders, artists, filmmakers, and any other individuals who create any type of content can file a DMCA Takedown or Request.
DMCA Exceptions and Exemptions
The main exception to DMCA is called “Fair Use”. Fair Use allows the use of copyrighted material under certain conditions, which include: news reporting, commentary, research, criticism, scholarship, and teaching. The purpose of this exception is to promote knowledge, creativity and learning.
For example, a newspaper is allowed to publish a copyrighted photograph in order to report news that relates to the photograph. Similarly, a student is allowed to use movie clips in a research paper relating to movies. Parody is another example of fair use; this is why artists like Weird Al Yankovic are allowed to make comedic parodies of other artists’ songs.
How to file a DMCA Takedown or Issue a DMCA Notice
You don’t need to register your work in order to send a DMCA takedown request. As soon as your content is fixed in some sort of tangible form, it becomes your intellectual property and you hold the copyright to it (meaning you can do a DMCA Takedown or send a DMCA notice).
To submit your own DMCA Takedown request or issue a DMCA notice:
Step 1: Gather evidence of infringement (take a screenshot or write down the infringing URL)
Step 2: Gather evidence of ownership of copyright (proof that you own it)
Step 3: Write a statement describing how your works are being used without permission
Step 4: Provide your contact information and sign the statement
Step 5: Submit it to the person who handles takedown requests for the website (most social media sites have a specific form you can fill out - Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitch, Tik Tok, etc.)
For more information regarding DMCA Takedown notices and requests, please visit:
Is there such a thing as DMCA Safe or copyright free content?
Yes there is! But there are some very important things you need to know before using this type of content. Firstly, you must ensure that the music you are using is actually safe to use. You have to trust that the owner of the music actually owns all rights to the music. Otherwise it is possible that a third party claims ownership of the music and takes down your content (or prevents you from monetizing it). Next, you must trust that the owner of the content will never change their mind in the future and start submitting claims or trying to monetize your content. Or, the owner may sell the songs to someone else who then decides to submit DMCA takedowns.
You need to trust your source of DMCA safe music. This is why it is always recommended to use a trustworthy source, such as StreemTunes, whose music will be DMCA safe forever. StreemTunes is the world’s best source of modern DMCA Safe music / copyright free music. StreemTunes guarantees its music is safe forever and will never issue a DMCA Takedown notice or request.
Read more about DMCA safe music in our blog post, "What is DMCA Safe or Copyright Safe Music?"