Any company operating a website that is unsure whether all the content on it is its own copyrighted material should have an Agent registered under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). At long last, registering an Agent no longer involves a process out of the 1950s with a filing fee well out line with its benefit. Filing is now done online and the fee is minimal.
The DMCA provides safe harbors from copyright infringement liability for online service providers and websites that allow users to post or store material on their systems, or, perhaps, have material on their sites of questionable copyright origin. If a DMCA Agent is registered, then the agent must be the one to receive notifications of claimed copyright infringement. After notice, the website has a short time to determine if the objected to material is infringing another’s copyright, but no law suit can be brought during this time period, and if the material is removed, no suit can be brought at all.
In December 2016, the Office introduced an online registration system and electronically generated directory to replace the Office’s old paper-based system and directory. Accordingly, the Office no longer accepts paper designations.
Until December 31, 2017, Agents who were appointed under the old paper-based system are still valid agents. For the time being, the Copyright Office is maintaining two lists of Agents, but after that date, all Agents need to be appointed electronically. Knull PC is contacting clients for whom it has been Agent under the paper system to ask if they want this update.