If your business relies on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for protection from copyright claims, you have until December 31, 2017 to complete the electronic registration of your DMCA agent with the Copyright Office.
Under the DMCA, online service providers meeting certain criteria fall within a safe harbor from copyright infringement claims that result from content posted by a website user. This content can range from photographs to text comments on a blog post. If the user uploading the infringing content does not own rights in the content, you, too, could be liable for infringement, making the DMCA Safe Harbor provision important to limit your liability. To benefit from DMCA’s Safe Harbor, a service provider must (1) designate an agent to handle all takedown notices received from copyright holders; (2) register the designated agent with the Copyright Office; and (3) keep the agent’s contact information updated. The online service provider must also adopt and implement policies for handling account terminations and repeat infringers.
The new Copyright Office regulations require designated agent information to be filed and updated every three years. Previously, the process of registering a designated agent with the Copyright Office was through a one-time paper registration process with payment of a single fee. The new and improved system requires online service providers to re-register every three years through a searchable electronic system. This new electronic system provides copyright owners with a more efficient way to find the contact information for registered agents for any given website. The goal of the re-registration process is to ensure accuracy in the registered agent database. The fee for registration is $6. Online service providers currently registered through the paper process have until December 31, 2017, to register using the electronic database.