The US DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) contains very useful provisions that provide a company with a safe harbour (in the U.S.) from copyright infringement committed by users of the company’s website or other online service. For technology companies, especially those that permit users to contribute content, this safe harbour is invaluable as, without, liability for copyright infringement committed by users could be a financial disaster – imagine the liability a video upload site could incur.
To be granted the safe harbour, your company must comply with a number of legal requirements, including:
- The posting of certain information concerning a notice-and-take-down process for alleged copyright infringing content, counter-notice to challenge an allegation and compliance with this process; and
- Registering your online service with the US copyright office and registering a DMCA agent, who acts as the point of contact for DMCA/copyright infringement claims.
Previously, DMCA agent registration did not expire. Due to changes in the regulations governing DMCA agent registration, all current DMCA registrations expire on December 31, 2017. Going forward, companies may register DMCA agent information electronically, each registration being valid for 3 years. A failure to re-register a DMCA agent will result in the loss of the DMCA safe harbour, even if you previously registered and no change occurred with respect to that agent.
The benefits to the DMCA safe harbour greatly outweigh the minor costs involved in registering a DMCA agent. Accordingly, we recommend registration to our Canadian clients, even if they do not have a presence in the U.S. If your company has already registered, be sure to contact your legal counsel to timely begin re-registering your DMCA agent.