Effective December 31, 2017, the U.S. Copyright Office introduced new rules governing the registration of service providers of certain telemedia services. These requirements must be met by providers to receive special protection from copyright lawsuits (“safe harbor”).

Website operators and providers of other online services that publish user-generated content are at constant risk of being sued by rightsholders for alleged or actual copyright infringements. After all, a complete review of the contents is usually not possible, potentially leading to unmanageable liability risks. The U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) grants special protection to these providers. Websites, apps, and other types of online platforms that allow third parties to publish user-generated content (such as comments, photos, and videos) are, under certain conditions, particularly protected against claims for copyright infringements. Specifically, the protection concerns user-generated content posted by third parties on the respective telemedia.

According to the amendments that have now entered into force, service providers need to register designated agents for telemedia electronically with the U.S. Copyright Office. Any registrations in paper form that were previously allowed are no longer valid. If no electronic registration is carried out, the protection will end, since electronic registration is a mandatory prerequisite for protection. The registration needs to be renewed every three years.

Practical tip:

Due to the new requirements, it is recommended to check which websites, apps, or online portals (telemedia) may be protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). Telemedia that meet the requirements should be registered at the earliest possible date and also establish the other requirements for protection.