IMPORTANT ACTION REQUIRED: All online service providers, including those that previously designated an agent to the U.S. Copyright Office on a paper form, must submit new designations of agents through the new electronic designation system by December 31, 2017 in order to avail of the DMCA safe harbors. Service providers may access the new online designation system at the following URL: www.copyright.gov.

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) an online service provider who meets certain eligibility requirements can avail itself of safe harbors from copyright infringement liability for specified activities, such as storage of material at the direction of its users. Online service providers must follow certain steps in order to take advantage of the safe harbors, including registering a designated agent with the U.S. Copyright Office to receive notifications of claimed copyright infringement.

Recently the Copyright Office announced a new electronic system for designating agents—starting on December 1, 2016, the Copyright Office will no longer accept paper designation of agent forms and online service providers must use the new online system to submit designation of agent information. See 81 Fed. Reg. 75,695 (Nov. 1, 2016).

This is what you need to know:

  • All online service providers, including those that previously designated an agent with a paper form, must submit new designations of agents through the electronic system by December 31, 2017 in order to avail of the DMCA safe harbors. Failure to do so will result in the loss of the potential benefit of the safe harbor. However, previously filed paper designations will remain valid until either the service provider electronically submits a new designation of agent or December 31, 2017, whichever is earlier.
  • After an online service provider electronically submits a designation of agent, the designation will remain valid for three years, at which time the designation will expire unless the service provider renews the designation kicking off a new three-year period.
  • There is a new flat fee of $6 for each submitted designation, replacing the current $105 fee.

Information Required to Designate an Agent

Online service providers must provide the following information to designate an agent, amend a designation, or resubmit a designation:

  • Contact information for two representatives who will serve as primary and secondary contacts with the Office. A service provider is required to provide contact information for primary and secondary contacts when the service provider sets up an account to log into the system.
  • Contact information for the service provider. A service provider must provide its full legal name, physical street address, telephone number, and email address. A post office box is not allowed unless a waiver is granted by the Copyright Office.
  • Alternate names used by the service provider. Alternate names include names under which the service provider is doing business, website names and addresses (i.e., URLs), software application names, and other commonly used names that the public is likely to use to search for the service provider. Separate legal entities, such as corporate parents or subsidiaries, are considered separate service providers (not alternate names) that must submit separate designations of agents.
  • Contact information for the designated agent. A service provider must provide its designated agent’s name, organization, physical mail address, telephone number, and email address. The same information is required by the DMCA to appear on the service provider’s website. The name of the agent may be an individual’s name, a position or title held by an individual (such as “Copyright Agent”), a department within the service provider’s organization or within a third party entity (such as “Copyright Compliance Department”), or a third party entity generally. The address for a designated agent, unlike the address for a service provider, may be a post office box.

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