DMCA Safe Harbors Will Discontinue for Websites and Internet Service Providers that Fail to Electronically Register their Designated Agents with the U.S. Copyright Office by December 31, 2017
Proprietors of websites that host user generated content and online search engines and directories have long benefitted from the safe harbors available to them under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). These safe harbors immunize them from secondary liability for the copyright infringements of their users. In order to take advantage of the safe harbors, proprietors need to identify someone to serve as their designated agent to receive notifications from third party copyright owners of any claimed infringement occurring on the website. Additionally, the designated agent’s information must be provided to the U.S. Copyright Office in order to maintain a centralized online directory of designated agents. Until recently, the Copyright Office accepted hardcopy submissions of the required information about designated agents for its directory. In December 2016, the Copyright Office introduced an online registration system and electronically generated directory. In order to continue to benefit from the safe harbors after the end of a transition period expiring on December 31, 2017, website proprietors must (re-)register their designated agents via the online system. Moreover, they must re-register designated agents every three years going forward. More information on the U.S. Copyright Office’s DMCA Designated Agent Directory is available at: https://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/.