New Regulations Issued By The Copyright Office Affecting Thousands of Websites

By Eric Schwartz and Matthew Williams

The Copyright Office officially released an announcement Monday, October 31st, about new regulations affecting all online service providers who seek liability limitations under 17 U.S.C. § 512 (i.e., the DMCA). The regulations, which are effective as of December 1, 2016, require that all service providers (even those who have previously designated agents) file new forms prior to December 31, 2017 to (re)name their copyright designated agents, who are to receive takedown notices from copyright owners related to allegedly infringing content. This (re)designation process must be completed through the Copyright Office’s new online registration system. Paper forms will no longer be accepted. Moreover, companies must renew their agent designations every three years.

See below for official statement from the United States Copyright Office:

The United States Copyright Office has completed development of a new electronic system to designate and search for agents to receive notifications of claimed infringement, as required under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Accordingly, the Office is publishing a final rule in the Federal Register tomorrow to implement that system, replacing an interim rule that the Office had adopted after the DMCA’s enactment. A prepublication version of the rule is available for public inspection here. The rule is effective on December 1, 2016, the date that the new online registration system and directory will be launched. In the meantime, users can begin to acquaint themselves with the new system by watching the video tutorials available here. Any service provider that has previously designated an agent with the Office will have until December 31, 2017, to submit a new designation electronically through the new online registration system.

View complete final rule here

This is an extremely important ruling as all websites must designate agents with the Copyright Office pursuant to 17 U.S.C. 512(c)(2) in order to properly obtain safe harbor protections to avoid liability for infringing material posted by users and other common online activities.

If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact us.

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