The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) affords an invaluable safe harbor to online “service providers” (as that term is very broadly defined in the DMCA) for copyright infringement claims arising from user-generated content posted to a service provider’s website. To be eligible, service providers must satisfy several criteria. For example, service providers must implement a policy for the termination of repeat infringers and comply with certain “standard technical measures” used by copyright owners to identify or protect copyrighted works. Service providers must also designate an agent to receive notice of claimed infringement. Although service providers wishing to take advantage of this safe harbor have traditionally designated their agents through a written submission to the United States Copyright Office, in May 2017, the Copyright Office issued a final rule requiring service providers to register their designated agents (or in the case of those already registered, re-register) through a new online system. The deadline to register with the new online system is December 31, 2017. The final rule also requires the designation be renewed every three years. Failure to register and renew will result in a loss of eligibility for the DMCA safe harbor, a risk no service provider should take.
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