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Changes for Internet Service Providers Under the DMCA

February 23, 2017

The U.S. Copyright Office recently issued a final rule governing the designation of agents to receive notifications of claimed infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The office is moving away from paper-based registration to an online system. To facilitate this change, effective December 31, 2017, all paper-based registrations are void. This means that for service providers to enjoy the benefits of the “safe-harbor” provisions that provide immunity from claims of copyright infringement from actions of their customers, service providers must re-register their designated agent before December 31, 2017.

About the DMCAThe DMCA is a wide-ranging act that, in relevant part, limits the liability of service providers from claims of copyright infringement, provided the service providers comply with the Act. There are different obligations depending on the nature of the online services that are being provided. The services fall into four categories: Transitory Digital Network CommunicationSystem CachingInformation Residing on Systems or Networks at Direction of UsersInformation Location ToolsDefining a Service ProviderThe term “service provider” is broadly defined to include providers of the above services, such as internet service providers, website providers, and search engine providers. Because service providers can be held liable for actions of their customers, the DMCA was enacted to provide a safe-harbor from these types of claims. The service provider, however, must follow a few specific rules, one of which includes designating an agent with the Copyright Office to receive infringement notices. Failure to designate the agent can expose your company to avoidable copyright infringement claims. How to Designate an Agent through the Copyright OfficeThe Copyright Office’s new online system is designed to simplify the process of designating agents and updating designations. The filing fee has also been reduced from $105 to $6. Service Providers will have to remember to renew their designations every three years. You can designate an agent yourself on the Copyright Office’s website, or contact me and I would be happy to assist you.

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