Renew It or Lose It
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) includes a safe harbor provision that protects appropriately registered online service providers from potential secondary liability for the infringing acts of others. Ironically, in previous years (until December 2016), the Copyright Office required online service providers to mail paper registration forms and checks in order to complete registration. The registration forms were scanned and then uploaded to an online site. The online site was not fully searchable and held inaccurate or outdated registration information.
Because of the outdated structure of the old registration and directory system, the Copyright Office changed to the new electronic system in order to substantially increase the efficiency of the office. With this new system, new rules were implemented.
In order for the safe harbor under the DMCA to be effective, all designations, including those previously submitted, must be made on the new electronic system. All paper registrations will be invalid after Dec. 31, 2017. In addition, there is a new three-year renewal period for designations, which will be reset after a service provider either amends or resubmits its designation through the online system.
It is important to emphasize that, as of Jan. 1, 2018, all paper designations will become invalid and will not meet the safe harbor requirements of the DMCA. We encourage service providers to renew their designations as soon as possible and to rethink the use and structure of their designated agents in view of the new rules. For more information on the changes and how to register under the new online system, read our Copyright, Content, and Platforms blog post.