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A copyright infringement notice is a communication generally sent from online service providers (OSPs), which includes Internet service providers (ISPs), to users that have been accused of a copyright violation. Notices are part of the often ambiguous world of intellectual property law, which in a sense is somewhat more lenient in its regulation on the Internet than it is for non-online copyright law. Copyright laws vary greatly throughout the world and sometimes fall under the regulation of the country where the web server of the allegedly infringed material is based, and sometimes fall under the domain of the country of users who access those servers through a web browser. Anyone who feels that their work has been unlawfully copied, as well as anyone who receives a copyright infringement notice, should become familiar with the intellectual property law of their country.
The process that results in a copyright infringement notice generally begins when the owner of the copyright, or an agency that represents him or her, becomes aware that the copyright on his or her work has been infringed. A written notification is then issued to the OSP claiming infringement of the copyright with additional information on the specific infringement, and the party making unlawful use of the intellectual property, either on the OSP's system or on a computer connected to the Internet through it. After receiving this written notification of copyright violation, the OSP, depending on the regulations under which it operates — national or international — may be required to remove the infringing material and properly notify the offending party or parties.
Copyright infringement notification to people violating copyright law is then issued by the OSP to the party or parties involved in the violation. Notification may be sent to whoever maintains the website that featured the intellectual property, whoever uploaded or posted it, and anyone who may have downloaded it. If the OSP determines that the claims of the intellectual property owner are invalid, it may choose to file a counter notice. In addition, anyone who receives a copyright infringement notice may also file a counter notice to their OSP if they feel they have wrongfully received the notice.
The relative ease with which copyright infringement notification and counter notification take place potentially allows for copyright law to be enforced without extensive court time and court costs. All phases of the process can function electronically. It also allows OSPs to continue operation while it or its users are accused of copyright infringement and allows users to maintain use of the OSP. Regulations of copyright and notifications of infringement, however, are handled in widely varying ways in different regions and countries.