Dec 22 | 2016

New Copyright Office Rules Affect Important Business Protections

The U.S. Copyright Office issued new rules on December 1, 2016 affecting all businesses that allow users to post or upload information to a website. The rules pertain to implementation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), which is the federal law that limits the liability of website owners who store on their websites user-submitted content that infringes on another’s copyright.

 

In order to enjoy the liability protections provided by the DMCA, website owners must: 1) designate an agent to receive notifications of claimed infringement; 2) post the designated agent information online (typically in the Terms of Use); 3) submit a form with the designated agent’s contact information to the U.S. Copyright Office; and 4) investigate claims of infringement when they arise and remove infringing content if necessary.

 

The new rules apply to the third requirement: submitting designated agent information to the U.S. Copyright Office.  Under the new rules, all website operators that wish to take advantage of the DMCA’s protection – regardless of whether they have previously filed their designated agent information – must file this information using the U.S. Copyright Office’s new online filing system.  This new online system replaces the outdated paper submission process. Now that the process is entirely electronic, the filing costs are a fraction of what they once were ($6 instead of $105).

 

The most important aspect of these new rules is that website operators will lose DMCA protection if the designated agent information is not filed (or re-filed) using the new system by December 31, 2017. This information must be resubmitted every three years thereafter even if the designated agent information has not changed.

 

More information about these new requirements may be found here: https://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/.

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