Last Chance To Re-Register DMCA Designated Agent
Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) who wish to continue to qualify for the safe harbor provisions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) must act now to re-register their designated agent, if they have not already done so. The DMCA, passed in 1998, provides protection for websites who allow third parties to post content to the website. The law requires ISPs to adopt a policy which addresses and terminates accounts of third parties who infringe another’s copyrighted content on the website. The law sets forth the requirements ISPs must follow in order to qualify for a safe harbor protection under the law. If ISPs properly follow the requirements of the safe harbor provisions, they can potentially avoid liability for infringing content which appears on their websites. The DMCA has allowed many popular websites, such as YouTube and Facebook, to operate without a constant fear of copyright litigation. These websites rely on the postings from third parties but when those third parties infringe another’s copyright rights they jeopardize the ISP’s ability to operate its website.
In such a case, an ISP can avoid liability if it has properly followed the safe harbor provisions. The safe harbor provisions require that an ISP: 1) not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity; 2) must not have actual knowledge of the infringing material; and 3) must act expeditiously to remove purported infringing material upon receiving proper notice from the copyright owner. 17 U.S.C § 512. Proper adherence to these safe harbor provisions is critical to an ISP who wishes to reduce its online copyright liability. In order to properly receive notice under the third requirement of the safe harbor provisions, an ISP must have the contact information for a designated agent on file at the United States Copyright Office. Persons believing their content is being infringed online must use this contact information to notify the ISP of the alleged infringing activity.
The United States Copyright Office acted in 2016 to introduce an online only registration system for ISP designated agents to receive infringement notices from content owners. The United States Copyright Office is now requiring any ISP who had previously registered with the office via a paper application to re-register all pertinent information for the designated agent through the online system. The deadline for the previously registered agents to be re-registered through the new online system is December 31, 2017. Failure to re-register the agent using the online system before December 31, 2017 renders the prior paper registration invalid, thus jeopardizing an ISP’s protection under the safe harbor provisions.
The online registration process is straightforward and requires minimal time. To register an agent, an ISP must create an account, provide basic contact information for the designated agent, and pay a one-time government fee of $6.00. More information on the online registration process can be found at: https://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/. To learn more about the DMCA generally and how you can use the safe harbor provisions to help protect your website and business, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.