DMCA. Digital Millennium Copyright Act

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Website/Blog Law. DMCA.

Many things changed with the advent of the Internet. This includes updates to long standing law pertaining to copyright. In 1998 President Bill Clinton signed into law the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This law is extremely important to websites/blogs that allow posting of “user-generated content.”

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YouTube is one example of a site that allows user-generated content. In fact, that is pretty much all you will find on YouTube. The potential problem with user-generated content is that there is a high likelihood that it will violate someone’s copyright protection, leaving the provider of the site open to copyright infringement lawsuits.

Section 512(c) of the  offers protection to websites that host user content, thus shielding them from lawsuits. The only requirement is that the website appoints a “designated agent” who receives complaints of copyright infringement.

Until recently, the owner of a website would fill out paperwork to register an agent, then file the paperwork with the U.S. Copyright Office. However, effective December 1, 2016 a new online system of registering agents went into effect. Those who have agents registered via the old paper system now have until December 31, 2017 to re-register their agents through the online system. Failing to do so will render the agent null and void along with protection from legal action.

The U.S. Copyright Office.

The U.S. Copyright Office contends that the change was needed to keep the system up to date, stating that 22% of all registered agents were no longer in service and that 65% of applications had wrong or outdated information. To keep this information up to date, websites must now register their designated agents every 3 years, as opposed to a one-time registration under the old paper system. The registration fees will decrease from $105 under the old system to $6.

To transition smoothly into the new system, the U.S. Copyright office has set up tutorials on its website to help people with the new registration requirements. They also offer directories where one can check to see if a website is in compliance.

As you see, adherence to these regulations is vital if your website contains user-generated content. Not having a properly registered designated agent will result in losing your protection against liability in case of copyright infringement. So, stay informed, stay vigilant and stay protected.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

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