The following is a guest post by Jason Sloan, attorney-advisor.
The December 31 deadline is soon approaching for online service providers to re-register their previous DMCA agent designations with the U.S. Copyright Office. What’s this all about? Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), certain kinds of online service providers—for example, those that allow users to post or store material on their systems, and search engines, directories, and other information location tools—can obtain safe harbor protection from copyright infringement liability by, among other things, designating an agent to receive notifications of claimed copyright infringement. To designate an agent, a service provider must:
- Make certain contact information for the agent available to the public on its website.
- Provide the same information to the Copyright Office, which maintains a centralized online directory of designated agent contact information for public use.
- Ensure that this information is kept up to date.
Until last December, the Office could only accept agent designations in paper form. The Office made scanned copies of these filings available to the public by posting them on the Office’s website. On December 1, 2016, the Office launched a new online registration system and electronically generated directory to replace the old paper-based system and directory. Accordingly, as of last December, the Office no longer accepts paper designations, and to designate an agent, a service provider must register with and use the Office’s new online system.
The new system modernizes the designation process and better ensures a more usable and accurate public directory of agents. It’s a much more efficient overall process and is designed to encourage service providers to keep their information up to date through a low filing fee and an easy amendment and renewal procedure that should take only a few minutes. In fact, transitioning to the electronic system allowed the Office to substantially reduce the filing fee from $105 (plus an additional fee of $35 for each group of one to ten alternate names used by the service provider) to $6 (with no additional fee for alternate names).
As previously announced, as part of the transition to the new electronic system, the Office’s old public directory of designated agents, generated by service providers’ paper filings, will be phased out at the end of 2017. During this past year, having an accurate designation in the old paper-generated directory continued to satisfy a service provider’s obligations under 17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(2), but after December 31, 2017, all designations in the old paper-generated directory will expire and become invalid. This means that any service provider that designated an agent under the Office’s old paper-based registration process, and that wishes to maintain an active designation with the Office, has until December 31, 2017, to re-register its designation using the Office’s new online registration system. Re-registration only costs $6 and takes only a few minutes to complete.
For more information about the Office’s DMCA Designated Agent Directory, please visit the system’s home page at https://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory. From this page, you can access the directory, create or login to a registration account, review regulations, watch video tutorials demonstrating how to use the system, read answers to frequently asked questions about the system, or contact the Office with any questions.