The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protects eligible internet platforms from secondary liability for copyright infringement under the "safe harbor" of 17 U.S.C. § 512. One condition of safe harbor protection is that any platform seeking protection must designate one or more copyright agents with the Copyright Office to receive notices from copyright owners claiming infringement.

Recently, the Copyright Office announced a new rule governing designation of such agents to receive notification of claimed infringement. 81 Fed. Reg. No. 211, pp. 75695-75708. Specifically, the Copyright Office is moving from a paper system to a searchable, electronic database of designated agents. All internet platforms seeking continued safe harbor eligibility must update their designated agent information in the new database.

Under the final rule, agents must be re-designated by December 31, 2017, and thereafter will be required to renew or re-designate an agent every three years in order to remain in compliance with § 512(c)(2) of the DMCA. Designations based on the former paper-based system will remain valid only through December 31, 2017, as the new electronic filing system is phased in.

Designation of agents under the new system began on December 1, 2016, under which agent designation fees have been reduced from $105 (plus an additional fee of $35 for groups of alternate names) to $6.