New Electronic Registration Requirements for Claiming DMCA Safe Harbor
The U.S. Copyright Office (“Office”) has adopted an amendment to regulation 37 CFR § 201 to modernize their system for registering designated copyright agents for notifications of claimed copyright infringement. As of December 1, 2016, the Office will no longer accept paper registrations, and electronic registrations will last three years. The good news: the fee has been significantly reduced from $105 to $6, and the new system should be easier and quicker to use than the current paper system.
Registration is important because it gives “service providers” a safe harbor against liability for copyright infringement claims.
Who Should Register
Courts have interpreted the definition of “service provider” so broadly that anyone operating or maintaining websites or online services should designate and register a copyright agent with the Office to take advantage of the safe harbor.
If You Have a Paper Registration Already on File
Current paper registrations will be valid until December 31, 2017, meaning you have over a year to register electronically with the new system. Electronic registrations will expire every three years, and the new system is designed to send renewal reminders via email.
The new electronic system should be online December 1, 2016 at www.copyright.gov. You will have to create an account and enter certain contact information. Once your account is active, you will be able to login and register your designated agents for a flat fee of $6 per designation.
Advice for Service Providers
Anyone who already has a paper registration will need to register electronically between December 1, 2016, and December 31, 2017. Because the fee is nominal, there is not much benefit to waiting until the end of 2017 to register. However, keep in mind the date you register electronically will begin the countdown for your successive three-year renewals.
If you are starting a new website or online service and have never registered a designated agent, register as soon as possible to ensure you qualify for the safe harbor.
Although the system is designed to send emails regarding the three-year renewal notices, it is best to make your own calendar or docket reminders in case the system fails to send those timely reminders.