For the last 20 years, the laws of the U.S., E.U., and most of the rest of the world, have provided Online Service Providers (OSPs) that host user-uploaded content with "safe harbors" insulating them from claims of copyright infringement so long as they did not know about or participate in infringing acts of their users. Yet, once a copyright owner has notified an OSP about the presence of infringing materials at a particular place on its site, the OSP has generally had a responsibility to investigate and remove or disable access to infringing materials. This notice-and-takedown safe harbor became part of U.S. law as a result of passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998.
This safe harbor, now codified in § 512 of U.S. copyright law, has never been popular with major copyright industries. Those industries acquiesced to these rules in 1998 as part of a grand compromise with other industries and organizations to get support for enactment of rules that outlaw tools for circumventing technical protection measures that major copyright industries planned to use when distributing digital copies of their works.
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