Starting December 1, 2019, service providers will need to renew their Digital Millennium Copyright Act-designated agent registrations with the U.S. Copyright Office to remain qualified for safe harbor protection.

Fenwick advises all service providers who seek the safe harbor protections of the DMCA to promptly renew their online designated agent registrations via the DMCA website. Read on for a summary of key points to keep in mind.

What is a DMCA safe harbor? The Digital Millennium Copyright Act includes a set of provisions commonly known as the DMCA Safe Harbors. 17 U.S.C. § 512. These provisions are designed to protect online service providers from liability from copyright claims arising out of end-user conduct that copyright holders claim is infringing: when, for example, users submit content to an online service that does not belong to them, this could be an act of copyright infringement. To learn more about DMCA Safe Harbors, read our detailed overview, see this video and review our interactive reorganization of the safe harbors portion of the DMCA.

Who is a designated agent? The designated agent receives all notices of alleged copyright infringement on behalf of the service provider. The agent’s contact information must be available to the public and the Copyright Office. Service providers must provide detailed contact information, including the full name, physical street address, telephone number and email address for both the organization and the designated agent. It must also submit contact information for the representatives who will serve as primary and secondary contacts with the Copyright Office.

What is this renewal process? In December 2016, the U.S. Copyright Office issued a rule requiring complete re-registration of all DMCA-designated agents through the office’s new online system. All new registrations automatically expire after three years, so December 1, 2019 marks the first day in a rolling period that online renewal is required. There is a $6 fee for each registration or renewal.

What happens to service providers that miss the deadline? Any lapse in registration is a lapse in safe harbor protection for that time period. It is therefore very important for service providers to promptly review their deadlines and renew their designated agent registrations before they expire. We advise clients to calendar reminders every three years to avoid any lapses in safe harbor protection.