What Is a Copyright Strike Under the DMCA?

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Strikes, also sometimes called copystrikes, are not actually part of the DMCA, but are more specifically a platform-invented system to comply with the DMCA’s requirement to stop repeat infringers.

The DMCA imposes two main obligations on platforms like Youtube and Twitch, one reactive and the other proactive. Platforms must act in response to any validly drafted and submitted takedown notice, reactively removing the content when the copyright holder identifies it. Additionally, platforms must proactively ban or otherwise restrict repeat infringers from using their services.

That second requirement is nonspecific, and platforms are free to create any system they like that will help them comply with it. It is why Youtube created their strike system: an unresolved copyright claim will result in a “strike” on the user’s account, and accumulating three strikes will subject the account to termination. Strikes expire after 90 days. Remember that this is entirely a Youtube-created approach for complying with the DMCA, and other sites can have different policies, and Youtube may also alter their policies at any time. No aspect of the DMCA law requires a strike system, or a strike expiration time.

Twitch, for instance, uses a similar strike system with a three strike limit, but does not at this time provide any information about whether strikes expire. Platforms may be as harsh or as lenient as they prefer with their policies, provided they have adopted a policy that is “reasonable” to deal with repeat infringers.

Because each platform has its own way of complying with the DMCA, it is important to read the sites’ Terms of Service or DMCA page, specifically the “Repeat Offender” or “Repeat Infringer” policies, which is where information about strikes — if any — should be located. It is a legal requirement to inform account holders of their DMCA and repeat infringer rules, so these will usually be posted prominantly.