Deadline to Renew Your Copyright Agent Notice for DMCA Safe Harbor December 31, 2017

by McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC

If you operate a website or other online service that permits users to post content, listen up.  You could be liable for potential copyright infringement if one of your users posts content that infringes a copyright.  However, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) provides safe harbors from copyright infringement liability for online service providers.  To take advantage of the DMCA safe harbor you must designate an agent to receive notifications of claimed copyright infringement. To designate an agent, a service provider must do two things: (1) make certain contact information for the agent is available to the public on its website; and (2) provide the same information to the Copyright Office, which maintains a centralized online directory of designated agent contact information for public use. The service provider must also ensure that this information is up to date.  Failure to register with the Copyright Office can result in no safe harbor under the DMCA – which means potential liability for the website/service operator.

Even if you previously registered your agent with the Copyright Office, the Copyright Office is changing systems and requires an update.  Now might also be a good time to review your current terms of use and privacy policy to ensure they are up to date.

The notice from the Copyright Office is here.

Transition period: Any service provider that has designated an agent with the Office prior to December 1, 2016, in order to maintain an active designation with the Office, must submit a new designation electronically using the online registration system by December 31, 2017. Any designation not made through the online registration system will expire and become invalid after December 31, 2017. Until then, the Copyright Office will maintain two directories of designated agents: the directory consisting of paper designations made pursuant to the Office’s prior interim regulations which were in effect between November 3, 1998 and November 30, 2016 (the “old directory”), and the directory consisting of designations made electronically through the online registration system (the “new directory”). During the transition period, a compliant designation in either the old directory or the new directory will satisfy the service provider’s obligation under section 512(c)(2) to designate an agent with the Copyright Office. During the transition period, to search for a service provider’s most up-to-date designation, begin by using the new directory. The old directory should only be consulted if a service provider has not yet designated an agent in the new directory.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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