Copyright Office Issues New Rule – A Fresh Designation of Agent Submission is Required Before The End of 2017 to Be Compliant With The DMCA

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) provides safe harbors from copyright infringement liability for online service providers. There are various requirements necessary in order to qualify for safe harbor protection, including that an online service provider must designate an agent with the Copyright Office to receive notifications of claimed infringement.

17 U.S.C. 512(c)(2) – Designated agent. The limitations on liability established in this subsection apply to a service provider only if the service provider has designated an agent to receive notifications of the claimed infringement . . . on its website in an accessible location to the public and by providing the Copyright Office . . . information which the Copyright Office deems appropriate.

In December, 2016, the Copyright Office introduced a new online agent registration system and announced that it will phase out its paper system by December 31, 2017. Any agent designation not made through the new online registration system will expire and become invalid after December 31, 2017. (See, https://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/ for links to the New and Old Designated Agent Directory.)

Along with a fresh agent designation filing, it is the service provider’s duty to make sure that its agent designation is current and an amendment should be filed if there is a change in the information on file with the Copyright Office. In an effort to keep the information up to date, the Copyright Office is now requiring that the designation of agent must be renewed every three years. For example, if the fresh designation of agent is filed January 1, 2017, a resubmission, or renewal, must be submitted no later than January 1, 2020. Although the Copyright Office will send renewal reminders to the email address(es) on file, the renewal date should be carefully docketed in your records to remain in compliance with Section 512(c)(2). The Copyright Office charges a nominal fee of $6 per designation, amendment, or resubmission/renewal.