Copyright Office Releases New Rule Governing Designation of Agent

By Scott C. Rand

The U.S. Copyright Office recently announced a final rule changing the registration requirements for online service providers seeking to avail themselves of the “safe harbor” under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).  Under the DMCA, online service providers that store or post content from users can shield itself against claims of copyright infringement provided certain eligibility requirements are met.

To be eligible under the safe harbor from copyright infringement, online service providers must designate an agent to receive notifications of copyright infringement.  Previously, the Copyright Office maintained an online directory of scanned copies of agent designation filings.  Effective December 1, 2016, designation of agent filings must be made using the Copyright Office’s new electronic system.

This requirement also applies to any online service provider that has previously designated an agent under the old system.  Any online service provider that wishes to maintain a designation filed under the old system is required to re-designate their agents using the new electronic system by December 31, 2017.  Designations that are not re-registered by December 31, 2017 will expire.

Another change under the new rule is that agent designations will expire every three years.  Thus, periodic renewals will be required for an online service provider to maintain safe harbor protection.  Under the new system, agent designation fees have been reduced from $105 to $6.

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