Running a website? Don’t forget to register your DMCA agent!

When you run a website or other internet-based service that features user-generated content, you are required to register a DMCA agent in order to take advantage of the safe harbor. This means that if a user uploads some content that infringes copyright, you won’t be held liable if you comply with the DMCA takedown procedures.

However, if you haven’t registered your DMCA agent (the person who will receive those takedown notices on your website’s behalf), you aren’t eligible for the safe harbor. This could be a big problem.

The old way

It used to be that you had to register your DMCA agent by filing a paper application with the Copyright Office. There was also a fee of $105 to register.

Recently, new regulations were passed that revamped the agent registration system. This has both benefits and drawbacks, as we’ll see in the next section.

The new system

The US Copyright Office has created a new online filing system to replace their old paper filing system. The best part about this new system is that the fee has been reduced from $105 to just $6.

The whole system, including existing registrations, is being thrown out and replaced. This means that EVERYONE needs to re-register. There is a grace period that lasts until December 31, 2017, for those who were already registered prior to December 1, 2016.

Some commentators, like tech news website Techdirt, criticize the new system for its byzantine and ineffective account and password setup process. As they point out, the new password rules (which are pretty crazy) actually go against the latest government guidelines.

That’s neither here nor there, though. This is an important part of running a website that could potentially host copyrighted material. In order to avoid liability for copyright infringement, you should get registered as soon as possible.

What do you need to do?

In order to get set up on the new system, visit this link to start the process:

Click on Login/Register over on the right, and get started.

Even if you’ve signed up before, this new system is completely replacing the old, and EVERYBODY needs to sign up again. You also need to renew every three years, so mark your calendar. The three year clock starts every time you amend or renew your registration, so if you do it early, the three years start when the latest filing was made (not at the previous deadline).

Check out the Copyright Office’s FAQ here for more information, as well.

You should also have the name and address of your DMCA agent, along with an explanation of what needs to be included in a compliant DMCA takedown notice, in your website’s Terms of Service.

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss how you can properly comply with the DMCA on your site, why not contact a game lawyer?

Zachary Strebeck

Zachary Strebeck

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