How to maintain your DMCA safe harbor protection

Glenn W. Peterson

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects online service providers, such as YouTube, in California and the rest of the country from being held liable for copyright infringement when a user posts copyrighted materials on the provider’s website. However, an important part of the DMCA is that the provider must have a designated agent or contact to whom copyright infringement notices can be sent, and upon receiving such notice, the provider must remove the content. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, the designated agent must be reported to them electronically and the contact information for the agent must be made public on the provider’s website in order for a provider to claim DMCA safe harbor protection.

Providers can choose a specific job title, person, third-party entity or department within its company to serve as a designated agent, according to the USCO. The provider needs to provide the following information for the agent: name, email address, physical address, name of the organization he or she works for and telephone number.

Registration must be renewed every three years. However, it is important to note that the electronic submission requirement was new as of Dec. 1, 2016. Prior to that, registrations could be done through the mail. All providers who wish to take advantage of the safe harbor protection offered through the DMCA must have an agent electronically registered by Dec. 31, 2017. This includes those who were previously registered through the old system. So, if a provider had registered on Nov. 1, 2016 using the old system, it would need to re-register by the end of 2017 to maintain protection.