The recent agreement between big media companies and big Internet service providers (ISPs) concerning online copyright infringement has the law and technology world abuzz. ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable have agreed to implement a system under which subscribers who repeatedly and illegally download copyrighted content will have their Internet access impeded and maybe even terminated.

This is big news, and it will probably receive more attention in this IP Viewpoints series. But the purpose of this column is to put this agreement in context, because much of what the companies have agreed to do appears to be an extension of a system that Congress set up more than 10 years ago in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the DMCA). [...]

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