Do You Operate a Website? Have You Appointed Your Designated Copyright Agent to Avoid Potential Liability?
Posted December 11, 2017

If you host websites for others, or if you operate a website that allows users to upload images, videos, or other materials, you must file a designated-agent registration with the US Copyright Office by no later than December 31, 2017. This is a requirement of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which protects web hosting companies and others from copyright infringement claims. Here’s how it works:

Information sharing is a key feature of the Internet. Web hosting companies allow anyone to quickly and easily set up a website and post almost any content the user wishes to share. Certain websites exist solely for the purpose of allowing users to upload text, images and videos (think of YouTube and Pinterest). Unfortunately, this open environment creates many opportunities for copyright infringement, which occurs when someone uses another’s image, video, or text without permission, and without qualifying for the “fair use” defense.

Given the extensive sharing that occurs on the Internet, web hosting companies and websites with uploaded user content could quickly be overwhelmed by infringement claims. To limit this activity, the DMCA creates a “safe harbor” for them: if, upon receipt of a proper notice-and-takedown demand under the DMCA, the hosting companies or website operators remove access to the allegedly infringing content, they are not liable for infringement.

To qualify for this “safe harbor”, hosting companies and operators must appoint a designated agent to receive DMCA notice-and-takedown demands. This is the person to whom copyright owners can send an infringement notice. You can designate an agent online and get more information from the U.S. Copyright Office.

Don’t miss this simple opportunity to protect your website from claims. For more information or to ask questions about internet and trademark issues, contact Glenn Dickinson, intellectual property attorney at LightGabler, at 805-248-7416 or gdickinson@lightgablerlaw.com.