Remember this one – The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)? Set the time machine back to 1998, when Napster was giving the music industry serious – and warranted – heartburn, to illegally download, then “share,” media (songs, in this case).

Anecdotal context: It was in that timeframe when a friend emailed me to gleefully profess his love for his new cable modem. For him, downloading 5,000-plus hours of music from Napster, before it was shuttered, was retribution against the recording industry for pushing the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You” to the No. 1 slot in 1970, over Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary.” The point: Five. Thousand. Songs.

The DMCA happened as a way to stop the bleeding from the music industry, in terms of revenues lost to pirated content – or at least staunch it.

Two decades later, a reasonable rear-view assessment is “it’s a start.” Here’s what happened: The DMCA gave copyright-holders a means to go after downloading. Streaming hadn’t happened yet.

Plus, “go after” essentially meant sending “take down” notifications (see Figure 1), which instruct the offending party to… well, to take down the infringing content. If you’re thinking “whack-a-mole,” in that what’s taken down here pops up over there, you’re in the zone.

For those reasons, and in the annals of video piracy, the DMCA chapter could probably best be titled “A Good Start.”

Why this matters: Legislative heat for pirated video content is at best a slap on the wrist. A better and/or companion approach requires adroit consumer education about the impact of stealing copyrighted material.

DMCA Takedown notice