With all the good that the Internet can bring for a company, a lot of bad is also lurking out there. A company could join the social media revolution and capitalize on attracting new customers only to have their new customers’ identities stolen in a cyber attack. Or, a more likely scenario for most companies, the good intentioned company finds itself in a lawsuit for doing nothing more than starting a conversation and engaging its customers.
Well, have no fear for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") is here. The DMCA exempts on-line service providers that meet the criteria set forth in the safe harbor provisions from claims of copyright infringement made against them that result from the conduct of their customers. These safe harbor provisions are designed to shelter service providers from the infringing activities of their customers. If a service provider qualifies for the safe harbor exemption, only the individual infringing customer is liable for monetary damages; the service provider’s network through which they engaged in the alleged activities is not liable.
It is important to note, though, that the DMCA does not protect against all types of infringement. For example, it does not protect against trademark infringement. Therefore, it is important to have well drafted Terms and Conditions of Use Agreements that govern the use of your Web site.
So jump on the bandwagon and start those social media Web sites.
There are laws and ways to limited your liability for the acts of others using your Web site. As for the organized cyber attacks, it’s probably best to leave that to Google and the U.S. government for the time being.