Have You Designated Your DMCA Agent? Now Is the Time.

Online service providers which permit third-party posting of material, such as websites hosting user video content or blogs allowing users to post comments, run the risk of storing materials on their systems which constitute copyright infringement. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, provides "safe harbors" from allegations of infringement if these providers identify an agent to receive copyright complaints and also register that agent in the Copyright Office DMCA Designated Agent Directory.

Although the Copyright Office previously had a paper system by which providers could register, it is transitioning to a fully digital online system as of January 1, 2018. Importantly, the Copyright Office has made clear that "any service provider that has designated an agent with the Office prior to December 1, 2016, in order to maintain an active designation with the Office, must submit a new designation electronically using the online registration system by December 31, 2017. Any designation not made through the online registration system will expire and become invalid after December 31, 2017."

If your business permits third-party posting of content, you should take steps to designate your DMCA Designated Agent prior to the turn of the year. Keep in mind, however, that this is only part of the plans—you should take this time to review your website terms of use and privacy policies, confirm the Designated Agent information on your site itself, and make certain that all contact information is functional.

An experienced intellectual property attorney can provide an overall review of your website and identify necessary corrections, saving you time and extra work down the road. A 2018 resolution to address website deficiencies may be the best investment you make in the secure growth of your business.

James CreedonCopyright