DMCA Safe Harbor: Register Electronically or Lose Protections

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe-harbor protections can insulate your business from liability for online infringement by those who post on your website or platforms if you take the correct steps under the DMCA, and register a copyright agent with the DMCA.  Take note- if you previously registered your copyright agent with the DMCA in paper, your time to register electronically with the U.S. Copyright Office has ended and you may lose your DMCA protections if you do not take certain steps. 

Registration in the new system costs $6.00 and only takes a few minutes, and is well worth your time.  Check out the U.S. Copyright Office's bulletin available here at this link.  Failure to have an agent designated can have serious consequences.  As one example, in Oppenheimer v. Allvoices, Inc., 2014 3:14-cv-00499-LB (N.D. Cal., June 10, 2014), photographer Oppenheimer sued ISP Allvoices for copyright infringement with respect to materials posted by Allvoices users. Allvoices moved to dismiss, arguing, among other things, that it was immune from suit because the content was generated by users and thus Allvoices was immune from liability under the DMCA. In response, Oppenheimer argued that Allvocies could not claim DMCA safe harbor protection for any materials posted before it registered an agent with the Copyright Office, as required by the Act. Allvoices argued that it registered an agent two months after the initial infringing post of Oppenheimer’s materials and so its designation should be sufficient to encompass the initial posts. The Court held that agent registrations are not retroactive, holding that Allvoices could not invoke the section 512 safe harbor with respect to any infringing conduct occurring before its agent was registered with the Copyright Office.

The lesson?  Register today, as delay can have consequence.

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