Copyright management information ("CMI") is information conveyed with a copyrighted work that identifies the owner and nature of that copyright. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 ("DMCA") prohibits the removal or falsification of CMI, as well as the distribution of such altered works. Specifically, 17 U.S. Code § 1202 defines copyright management information as:
For example, imagine that a photographer's copyrighted picture was published in The New York Times. It was watermarked with the photographer's name and copyright year. An infringer goes onto the newspaper's website, downloads the picture, and uses software to remove the watermark. He then uses the photo on his personal website. Not only would this be basic copyright infringement, but it would also be a violation of the DMCA's prohibition on removing CMI.
CMI rules apply to both digital and non-digital works. Thus, if that same infringer literally cut and pasted the photographer's photo from The New York Times's print edition, and then scanned the photo after cutting out the attribution, this could also violate the prohibition on CMI removal.