Summary 

Online service providers that have previously submitted designated agent information to the US Copyright Office in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) through a paper process must re-register through a new online portal. If an online service provider does not re-register by 31 December 2017, it may lose its safe harbor protections under the DMCA.

Background

If an online service provider meets certain requirements, it will not be liable for copyright infringement claims arising from infringing material posted by their users or links to infringing material. To take advantage of the safe harbor, the service provider needs to follow a number of steps, including designating an agent to receive copyright complaints, and registering that agent's contact information with the US Copyright Office.

Service providers who have previously designated an agent through a paper process are still required to submit new designations through the electronic system by 31 December 2017. On 1 January 2018, all paper designations will become invalid and only those designations made through the online registration system will satisfy the DMCA requirement of designating a registered agent.

Next Steps

1. Create a registration account. To create a registration account, type the following address into your browser: https://dmca.copyright.gov/osp/p1.html

There is no charge to establish a registration account. A single registrant is able to use a single account to designate agents, amend designations, and resubmit designations for multiple service providers. For instance, a parent company can register and manage designations for all of its subsidiaries through one central account.

2. Re-register existing designations of DMCA agents by 31 December 2017. To register and manage DMCA agent designations via the Copyright Office's new online portal, type the following address into your browser: https://dmca.copyright.gov/osp/login.html

  • Prepare a separate agent designation for each legal entity. While related or affiliated service providers that are separate legal entities can have a single registration account (see above), they are considered separate service providers and need to file separate agent designations.
  • Prepare a list of all alternate company and product name designations. DMCA designation of agent filings must list "all alternate names that the public would be likely to use to search for the service provider's designated agent in the Copyright Office's online directory." Examples include DBAs and other commonly used names for the service provider, website URLs, software application names and product/service names. The names can be entered one at a time or uploaded in bulk using an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Identify the Agent. Although a natural personal could be identified as an agent, personnel changes could render the designation obsolete. Accordingly, we recommend against designating an individually named person as an agent. Instead, a service provider may designate as an agent a specific position or title (e.g., Copyright Manager), a specific department within the service provider's organization or within a third party entity that manages DMCA compliance for the service provider (e.g., DMCA Compliance Department).
  • Pay the fee. The registration fees have been significantly reduced to USD 6 per designation. Payment is to be made through Pay.gov via credit or debit card or a bank account.

3. Renew the designation every three years. To maintain DMCA safe harbor protection, online service providers must renew their DMCA agent designations every three years, via the online portal, by either amending it or resubmitting it without amendment to confirm it is current. The renewal fee is also USD 6 per designation. If a service provider amends its initial designation prior to the three-year renewal deadline, the three-year renewal clock is reset and a new three-year period begins.