The requirements under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) have changed, but the sky is not falling.
We have, even as a law firm, been hit with an unbelievable amount of spam sent out by law firms screaming that we need to run to them, immediately, to hire them to help with these changes — lest we suffer ruinous consequences.
You could find yourself liable for significant damages if you fail to comply with the new regulations.
To that we say “chill out.”
Nevertheless, you should be concerned about this. You could find yourself liable for significant damages if you fail to comply with the new regulations.
However, the new regulations are so easy to comply with, you should only need a lawyer to help you with them if you really like wasting money.
What is new?
On Dec. 1, the Copyright Office did away with the old system of designated agents for the receipt of DMCA notices with a new electronic system. Even if you previously registered one, you must re-register prior to Dec. 31, 2017.
If you fail to do that, you will lose any safe harbor protection you might currently enjoy. You will also need to renew your DMCA agent every three years. There are other minor changes, such as a broader category of agents that are permitted, and the fee is only $6 for designation, amendment or renewals.
Why do you care?
The DMCA immunizes online service providers from liability for any copyright infringement committed by a third party. Therefore, if you have a website that allows user-uploaded content, you must have a DMCA agent, or you may as well not operate at all.
If you have a blog where you allow user comments, you still might want one. Even if you have a website that does not seem to fit the DMCA mold, you are foolish not to register a DMCA agent. When you consider that it is a short process and $6, why would you not want to at least create the argument that you have DMCA immunity if there is a copyright infringement claim against you?
Of course, the DMCA requires more than mere registration. If you get a DMCA notice, youwill need to take down the allegedly infringing material “expeditiously” or you stand in the shoes of the original infringer.
You can’t directly profit from the infringement, and there are other requirements as well. But, step one is making sure you have a DMCA agent. So, get on that right now!
What to do?
I would love to tell you that you should urgently run to a law firm for assistance. But, to be honest, you don’t need to. The process is very simple. If you can shop online, you can handle this yourself.
Just go to http://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory and follow the instructions there. Those will bring you to a form, which you can find at http://bit.ly/2hGtLDf.
The form only takes a few minutes to fill out, and then you are on your way to DMCA protection.
Remember, that won’t be all you need, but it will be the first, and easiest, necessary condition for that protection.
Randazza Legal Group and its managing partner, Marc J. Randazza, have significant experience in intellectual property protection. Randazza has an international law degree in intellectual property studies.