The Computer Software Copyright Amendments of 1980, now codified as Section 117 of the Copyright Act, permits the owner of a copy of a computer program to make an additional copy of the program for purely archival purposes if all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful, or where the making of such a copy is an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner.
In 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the "DMCA") and the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. The DCMA's intent was to update copyright law for the digital age in certain arenas, while the Extension Act provides copyright owners with another 20 years of copyright protection for their works. A third bill regarding database protection has not yet passed (but may pass soon). These changes to copyright law have significant implications for libraries, archives, and institutions of higher education.
The DMCA contains detailed regulations for online service providers that must be followed to obtain protection from liability for infringement, makes it a crime to circumvent anti-piracy measures built into most commercial software, outlaws the manufacture, sale, or distribution of code-cracking devices used to illegally copy software, limits liability of nonprofit institutions of higher education (under certain circumstances) for copyright infringement by faculty members or graduate students, and provides for the promotion of distance education.