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Minimizing Website Infringement Liability: (Re)Designate Your Digital Millennium Copyright Act Agent

If you have a brand, chances are you have a website.  And if you have a website, chances are you have content on the website – probably some combination of text, music, photos, and graphics, including a logo that may be registered with both the USPTO and the Copyright Office.  You’re probably taking steps to help ensure that infringing content isn’t posted to your website –right? In case you hadn’t heard of it, here’s an additional nifty, inexpensive way for you to help minimize liability even further: compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The DMCA provides a “safe harbor” to online service providers (SPs) – typically, owners of websites – who take certain steps.  This means SPs who comply with the DMCA may not have to pay damages if their websites allegedly infringe a third party’s content.

One aspect of DMCA compliance just got a little easier.  As of December 1, 2016, the Copyright Office allows SPs to designate an agent under the DMCA through a quick online filing.  Believe it or not, until recently, SPs had to file original forms bearing pen-and-ink signatures!

If you previously designated a DMCA agent with the Copyright Office, that designation will lapse unless you file a new designation using the new system no later than December 31, 2017.  Missing this deadline means that the benefits of the DMCA’s safe harbor protection will be lost.

Under the new system, filings are much cheaper – only $6 per designation, including any “alternate names” of the SP, as opposed to a minimum of $105 under the old system.  It will be easier to update the address of the contact information of the designated agent (also for a $6 fee).  And designations are posted to the online directory of agents as soon as the Copyright Office receives your electronic payment.  So that the directory remains up-to-date, the Copyright Office is now requiring that all SPs renew their DMCA registration every three (3) years, also for a $6 fee.

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About this Author

Janet Fries, Drinker Biddle, Entertainment Attorney, Contract Lawyer
Of Counsel

Janet Fries has represented numerous authors, artists, collectors, estates, art organizations, musicians, producers and Internet companies in connection with issues involving contract negotiation and preparation, Web site review, copyright and trademark protection and enforcement and related matters. She counsels on copyright and trademark law, entertainment law and Internet law. Janet is a pro bono project coordinator for the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.

Janet is an adjunct professor at The George Washington University Law School, where she...

202-354-1333
Jennifer T. Criss Ph. D., Drinker Biddle, unfair competition lawyer, licensing attorney
Associate

Jennifer T. Criss counsels clients in the areas of copyright, technology transactions, licensing, trademark and brand management, and unfair competition in industries including arts and entertainment, music, information technology and health care. Jennifer regularly drafts and negotiates a wide variety of software licenses, SaaS and cloud services agreements, outsourcing arrangements, joint development agreements, and website terms and conditions and privacy policies. Additionally, Jennifer performs intellectual property and information technology due diligence for financing and M&A transactions. Her litigation experience includes proceedings before the Copyright Royalty Board. She also drafts comments relating to copyright law for submission to the Copyright Office.

Jennifer is a member of the CLE Board of the ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law and serves as Chair of the Committee on Copyright & Social Media. Her speaking engagements and publications have addressed topics including online harassment, copyright fair use, and data privacy and cybersecurity.

(202) 230-5648