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Trademark, copyright and other lawsuits and DMCA

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I am creating a website where students can upload their projects or work completed in an electronic portfolio. These portfolios will include but not limited to graphic design of art works that they have created, videos of them playing sports, text of their essays that they have written, and videos, text and images of science related projects that they have created. I plan on having a DMCA policy on my website. From my understanding this would mean if someone posts images from google images, copyrighted videos or plagerised texts I would have 0% liability. As many popular video sharing websites exist without having to worry about being sued for a video being displayed by something that a user uploads. In addition from my understanding the DMCA was designed to protect such webmasters

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Attorney answers 4


That understanding is rather superficial. The DMCA has many nuances, among them being having a designated DMCA agent, sending out proper notices so people can post counter notices, honoring proper counter notices, not having active control over the content of postings. If you are a student, you should not attempt to use this as a means for enable cheating. You are pretty clueless if you think popular video sharing websites have no worry about being sued. The big ones like YouTube spend major money on policing infringement.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.


You have not asked a question.

Attorney Burdick's comments are on-target.

This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


I would certainly not plan on acting your own lawyer here. You should have an attorney consider your platform then create the proper terms and privacy policy that will make sense in the context of your business model.

Regards to the DMCA, while you can achieve a safe harbor for user generated content, as Attorney Burdick aptly notes, it can get more complicated than what you suggests here. For example, the law requires a proper recordation of your contact person or entity to be on file with the US Copyright Office. This is required for every domain even if they are owned by the same entity or person.

Further, you can easy run afoul of the statute if, for example, the content is edited, controlled or manipulated in any way by the ISP (you in this case).

You will obviously have a number of legal considerations to launch something like this (e.g., entity structure, trademark, terms, copyright and DMCA matters, among others), so now would be a good time to form a relationship with a good business/IP attorney.

You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

Best regards,
Natoli-Lapin, LLC

DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.

Frank A. Natoli

Frank A. Natoli


Sorry for the typos. I hit send before a proofed it.


You are correct, but in order to take advantage of the immunities provided by the DMCA, you must take steps to assure that your web-site qualifies. Most importantly, you must designated and register a take down agent with the United States Copyright Office, and you must comply with the statutory requirements for receiving and responding to take-down notices from infringers. Compliance with the DMCA take-down scheme is a complex matter---you need to retain experienced counsel to set this up for you, draft terms of use, and otherwise take steps to boost the likelihood that you will benefit from DMCA protection. Don't even think of trying to handle this without retaining legal counsel.

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