December is a time for holiday parties and end of the year celebrations. For many internet service providers, it will also be the time to renew their “designated agent” registration under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The DMCA has “safe harbor” provisions that protect service providers from most liability for infringing actions of their users. This safe harbor is critical for digital services and websites like Facebook and YouTube, whose businesses are built on people posting material to their sites, to avoid what could otherwise be crippling liability.
In order to receive these protections, the DMCA requires that a “designated agent” be provided for service of takedown notices. Under a rule that took effect Dec. 1, 2016, the Copyright Office replaced its paper filing system and began requiring service providers to electronically register their designated agent. Registrations must be renewed every three years.
For service providers who submitted their designations when the new system was launched, the time to file a renewal is almost here. A business, for example, that registered its designated agent on Dec. 5, 2016 must file a renewal by Dec. 5, 2019. Other designations will be due on a similar time frame – three years from the time they were registered under the new system or last amended. Failure to file a renewal on time could disqualify the provider from the DMCA’s safe harbor and expose them to monetary damages for infringing activities of users.