The DMCA is a synthesis of two WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) treaties. The two treaties are the WIPO Copyrights Treaty, and the Performances and Phonograms Treaty. The DMCA, very broadly, provides a standard for determining what is a copyright infringement and further mandates a system of civil remedies and criminal penalties if a violation has occurred. The two treaties that the DMCA is based off of also dealt with protection of intellectual properties from other countries that were members of the treaties. This theme is furthered in the DMCA as it provides rules for protection of works from other countries.
There are a number of exceptions under the DMCA that prevent its universal application. Among the exceptions listed under the act are; special treatment for minors, special access for nonprofit libraries, archive and educational institutions if this special access is being used in good faith for determining if they wish to obtain authorized access to a work, reverse engineering by a person who has lawfully obtained a copy of a computer program with the intent of analyzing elements for use in making the program able to operate with other programs, if these acts are permitted under the copyright law, encryption research, circumventing for personal privacy, and security testing.