Digital Millennium Copyright Act Term Paper

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Digital Millennium Copyright Act

It was in the year 1998, in the month of October that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed by the U.S. Congress after much deliberations and controversy. It would be another two weeks, October 28th to be exact, that the Act became a Law. The law was signed by the then President, Bill Clinton. The law was approved and also supported by the entertainment industry as well as the software industry. However, there was a lot of disapproval in the fields of academicians and scientists and other learned people, which was in fact unavoidable. The Law supports the treaty that had been signed in December 1996 at the World Intellectual Property Organization at Geneva but also contains further materials that were added on at a later date. (The Digital Millennium Copyright Act)

Some of the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are as follows: It is considered a crime to circumvent the copyright or anti-piracy measures that are built into all commercial software of today. The fact that software can be illegally copied and distributed by a set of people who can actually crack the codes that protect this software is also dealt with. Those persons who manufacture or sell or copy and distribute these codes will be severely punished. However, in certain cases, like for example, when software has to be assessed or tested for the extent of security offered by the codes, or to conduct encryption research, cracking the code is legally allowed. Likewise, certain sets of people are allowed to circumvent copyright and anti-piracy laws. These people may be academicians, or be in charge of a free library, or run an educational institution. (The Digital Millennium Copyright Act)

Internet service providers are also exempted in certain cases from the same laws since they are required to simply provide information to large numbers of people who request such information over the Internet. The Internet service providers however, are permitted or even expected to remove such material as they find infringing on copyright laws from user's web sites. In cases where institutions of higher education serve as Internet service providers for their students and teachers, then they would be exempted from the anti-piracy and copyright laws too. 'Web casters' are required to pay a licensing fee to the record companies whose music is being used by them. The Register of Copyrights is expected to, after consultations with the relevant persons, submit a list of recommendations to the Congress about the possibility of promoting long distance education through the use of digital technology, while at the same time ensuring that the potential users do not infringe upon the rights of Copyright owners. (The Digital Millennium Copyright Act)

The concept of selling products using the Internet was created by Pierre Omidyar in 1995 when he launched his website 'Auction Web'. The consulting firm, Echo Bay Technology Group, owned this site and when Omidyar tried to launch the site under the name of '' and found that there was a site of this name already in existence, he launched the most popular and most widely used website all over the world, the 'eBay'. This is essentially an online auction website where people from all over the world can buy or sell either their goods or their various services. The site has been referred to as a worldwide yard sale or a garage sale where all sorts of items like, for example, appliances, dolls, knick-knacks, and collectibles are all sold off with the ease of a backyard sale. However, all credit goes to the website eBay for it has served to bring together people who want to buy or sell anything and everything, from any corner of the world. Certain big Companies like the IBM also use this site to announce their latest products and offer them on auction to the highest bidder. (Ebay)

Large amounts of revenue are generated by the eBay, as sellers have to pay a 1.25% to a 5.25% premium on the final price of the item that they are selling, and also from Advertising. Risks taken by the site are at a minimum, since there is no direct handling of goods being bought or sold, and payments do not take place between the two parties anywhere at the site; payments are handled by eBay's subsidiary, PayPal, and every transaction is based on good faith alone, much like newspaper advertisements announcing sales where buyers depend on the sellers' good faith to get the goods delivered, and the sellers depend on the buyers' good faith to pay the required amount. It is for this purpose that eBay openly publicizes all the post transactions that take place between the buyer and the seller on its website. The result is that the buyer can openly examine the credentials of the seller and then make his decision regarding the purchase. Generally, the sellers who have earned a higher rating are able to garner higher bids for their products. (Ebay)

Ebay being such a public website where thousands of people buy and sell everyday, certain regulations and policies regarding protection of the rights of the users of the site are indeed necessary. Some of these policies are: the 'eBay User Agreement' that enunciates the terms and conditions under which the services of the site would be made available to the user. The 'feedback' policy which encourages buyers to leave their feedback about the transaction on the website for the perusal of future buyers is a well protected one. The seller through the 'feedback removal' policy can remove unwanted and also unwarranted remarks on the sale, and feedback can be solicited for future use through the 'feedback solicitation' policy. The 'rules for everyone' policy has been written for the safety and enjoyment of all those who participate in the eBay experience. This includes sellers, buyers, employees, and board members. (Ebay Policies) Employees are permitted to sell or buy any products on the site, as would an ordinary seller or buyer, and are not allowed to use the Company name in their private dealings. The Company is not liable for improper use of the Company's name and such actions, if discovered, would be punished severely. (Ebay Employee Trading Policy)

EBay also does not hold itself liable for the use of profanity or improper language on its website, even though eBay strictly prohibits the use of profanities and racist, sexual, or obscene language on its site, and promises severe punishment for violators. (Profanity) In the same vein, the senders of unsolicited spam (e-mails) by employees, of a commercial as well as of a non-commercial nature to users of the website will be punished. (Unsolicited Commercial Email (Spam)) The privacy of the user of the website eBay is well protected through the 'Privacy Policy', which details the assurance from the Company that the name or address of the buyers or sellers using the site will not be sold to any third parties for their own marketing purposes, without the proper consent of the concerned person. (EBay Privacy Policy)

In addition, eBay being a site of such a public nature, extreme care is taken that the Company keeps member's or users' identities strictly confidential. Misrepresentation of identity is strictly forbidden, as members may use the identity of employees or vice versa, and this would lead to a multitude of problems in the authenticity of the site. For example, sometimes requests are made for revealing the passwords and identities of members, and the Company may not have sent these requests. In such cases, there is an 'Email and Websites Impersonating eBay' policy to take care of the security of users. In addition, the 'ID Verify' policy takes utmost care to ensure that the identity and the contact information of the buyer and seller are cross-checked and verified by a third party, online. (ID Verify)

Ebay has made up a separate set of rules for the buyers using the site, as well as for the sellers using it. The buyers are expected to follow these safety rules so that there is no problem in the transactions taking place online. The buyer, for one, is not permitted to interfere in any transaction taking place between other members when he is trying to finalize his own. He is also not permitted to offer to purchase any product that has been listed outside of eBay, and is also not permitted to warn members away from any item that is being sold. Retraction of a bid is not allowed and if he were the highest bidder, then he would be obligated to pay the price offered. In this way, the buyer's rights are protected. The seller is also assured of safe and problem free transactions by eBay by a series of policies. A 'listing policy' ensures that an item to be sold conforms to the existing community standards and guidelines. Violation of these particular standards may result in the imposition of a ban on the seller, and finally, even…

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