DMCA Agent Registration: The new, the old, and the ugly

If your company allows users to post their own content, whether in a comment section, hosted content, website, app, or otherwise, this post is for you.

If your company complies with the requirements of Title II of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it provides a safe harbor which enables an online service provider to avoid copyright liability for hosting third-party content that violates copyright. Compliance has two prerequisites: a DMCA agent registration with the Copyright Office and a DMCA statement on the site where the content is posted. There are other requirements, when the company receives a DMCA notice. But this article is focused on these prerequisites.

The Copyright Office is finally moving into the Internet era, and shifting from requiring physically mailed copies of DMCA Agent registrations, to online registration. This should enable a much easier search for agents. However, because of this switch, all previously registered service providers must re-register with the new electronic system by December 31, 2017, and designate their agent. The new rules also require re-registration every three years.

Registering is easy, except for picking a password, which was surprisingly difficult.

Most auto-generated passwords include repeated letters, it turns out.

Posting the appropriate DMCA notice on the website, or other location where potentially infringing content could be posted is also quite easy. The notice must provide the process for notifying you of the potentially infringing content, and must indicate that you will comply with the DMCA requirements. Many notices also include warnings that false takedown notices are illegal, and may expose the poster to liability.

The DMCA process itself hasn’t changed, though there is an active debate about how to update it. Electronic agent registration is new and convenient. But the password requirement to register as a service provider are just ugly.

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