The U.S. Copyright Office recently updated the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) by changing their registered agent directory from physical to digital form.
The new electronic system is intended to make submissions, updates, and searches for agents and sites easier and more efficient, but it also means website operators must re-register their agents using the new electronic platform by December 31, 2017. Registration costs $6 per designation and lasts three years before it must be renewed. If you have never registered an agent, you should do so immediately.
Failure to re-register will result in the loss of eligibility for protection under the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions—meaning website operators could be liable for their users’ copyright infringement.
What exactly do I need to do?
- Register or re-register your site’s agent at https://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/. You can be your site’s registered agent. Good news: for once, the government is reducing filing fees: online registration costs only $6.
- Make sure your agent’s contact information is available on your website, and that this information matches the information you provided in the DMCA registration.
- Update your site and your DMCA registration when necessary (e. if the agent or the agent’s contact information changes). Note that any time you update your registration, it will last three years from the date of the update before it must be renewed.
What is the DMCA Safe Harbor?
Under the DMCA Safe Harbor, website operators that transmit or otherwise provide access to user-generated content will be protected from direct and contributory copyright infringement liability for that user-provided material (including written comments and shared videos or images). The operator must meet certain conditions, including: not having actual knowledge of the infringement, in no way benefitting from the infringement, having a properly registered designated agent to receive notification of the violation, and immediately removing the infringing material once it is discovered.