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Thank you, DMCA!

by Alexandra Sepulveda, VP of Legal, Udemy

Have you thanked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) lately? As you’re reading this article online, you really should. This law has done more than any other to enable the internet to grow and thrive as a platform for content creators around the world. Whether you’re a teacher, a musician, an artist, or anyone distributing original content online, the DMCA empowers you to share your ideas and ensures protection for your work.  

“Without safe harbor, we’d all be lost at sea.” That quote comes from Lyor Cohen, the influential former leader of Def Jam who’s now Global Head of Music at YouTube, and we couldn’t have said it any better. Safe harbor is part of our day-to-day conversations at Udemy because this umbrella of protection is so vital to our instructors and our business.

Safe harbor, a key provision of the DMCA, is what allows us to provide an open platform for experts around the world to share their knowledge with students around the world. Without safe harbor protections, “many internet companies would simply be exposed to too much legal risk to operate. Safe harbors have given us the entire social media boom and many other internet technologies that we take for granted every day.” (We’re quoting the Electronic Frontier Foundation because they also said it better than we could!)

In exchange for the safe harbor established by the DMCA, services like Udemy are expected to respond quickly to any notice of infringement submitted by copyright owners, remove, or disable infringing content, and terminate the accounts of repeat infringers. We have a copyright team that works around the clock to handle any takedown request promptly.

Content owners are understandably anxious to get infringing content taken down as soon as possible, but it’s important that we gather all of the required information before we take action. We’ve made changes recently to our process to address takedowns in a faster, more efficient manner. Most people are honest and truthful, but we’ve also heard from bad actors who aren’t real copyright owners and who attempt to get us to remove a legitimate instructor’s content for their own illicit purposes.

We also use the DMCA to enforce the rights of our instructors when their content illegitimately turns up on other platforms. To help us complete the necessary paperwork and get content removed from the wrong places, we partner with an anti-piracy service called Pirashield that files reports on our instructors’ behalf.

We’ve all become accustomed to immediate gratification and seeing results in one click, but protecting online content is an instance where taking the time to follow proper legal protocols ensures everyone’s rights are protected.

The DMCA marked its 10th anniversary on October 28, 2017, but it’s never too late to raise a glass and thank this law for helping to create the vibrant, thriving internet we all enjoy today!

See Udemy’s full IP policy here.