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Has Your DMCA “Safe Harbor” Been Terminated?

If you have a website that allows users to post material, you are required to have a current DMCA agent in order to shield you from copyright infringement claims. DMCA agents must be registered with the Copyright Office to be effective.  See Copyright Trolls Are Monitoring Your Website Content – Steps You Can Take to Defend Against Infringement Claims.

Even if you have properly registered your DMCA agent, the registration could be terminated if you don’t timely renew the registration. The Copyright Office first required DMCA agent registrations to be renewed between December 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017, after the Office upgraded its registration platform. All of those registrations must be renewed again every three years. There is a 90-day grace period to file the renewal. The current renewal fee is $6. If the renewal is not filed, the agent listing will be labeled “terminated” in the Office’s directory, and the safe harbor from copyright infringement claims under the DMCA will be lost.

The Copyright Office has been sending reminder emails about this new renewal deadline. However, if you have a vigorous spam filter, you may have missed it. Everyone should check the status of their DMCA agent registration, and be sure not to miss their renewal deadline.

How To Renew

Here are the instructions for renewal from the Copyright Office:

To renew, you will need to review your designation and either amend it to correct or update outdated information or resubmit it without amendment to confirm its continued accuracy. Begin by logging in to your DMCA account here. Once logged in, click the pencil icon next to the designation, which will take you to a summary screen where you can review your information. From there, click “Edit” if you need to update anything, or click “Preview and Pay” to renew without making any changes. Please note that your renewal will be effective for three years starting the day it is submitted; renewal does not add three years to your prior expiration date.

The Office has created step-by-step instructions to walk you through the renewal process, available in both video and text form. If you have additional questions, please consult the Office’s FAQ page or contact the Office directly.

What Else You Need To Do

Registration of your DMCA agent is the first step, but that alone is not sufficient to qualify for the safe harbor. In addition, you must take the following steps:

  1. List the contact information for your DMCA agent prominently on your site. The best practice is to include the agent information in the site’s terms and conditions, with an explanation of the DMCA and how visitors can file a DMCA take-down notice.
  1. Establish an in-house policy for processing DMCA notices, including responding expeditiously, and advising those whose content is the subject of a take-down notice about filing a counter-notice.
  1. Have and enforce a procedure for terminating repeat infringers.

See the Copyright Office’s website for more information, or call us at OW&E and we can walk you through the process. We serve as the DMCA agent for some of our clients, and that may be an option for you as well.

Contributed by Linda Joy Kattwinkel

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