What is a Designated DMCA Agent, and Why You Need One

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) online service providers may be protected from potential claims of copyright infringement if they designate an agent who is to receive notice of infringement claims for material posted on the service providers website or platform. An online service provider is defined in 17 U.S.C. § 512(k)(1)(A) as an “entity offering the transmission, routing, or providing of connection for digital online communications, between or among points specified by a user, of material of the user’s choosing, without modification to the content of the material as sent or received.” This means that if an entity allows users to post things the user chooses to post, and the entity transmits, routs, or provides that material without alteration, then the entity is considered an online service provider.

All online service providers should strongly consider designating a DMCA agent. If an agent is designated, and other necessary steps under the DMCA are followed once the entity receives a claim of copyright infringement, the online service provider will not be liable for copyright infringement, even where the user material posted by the user was in fact infringing material. This safe harbor created by the DMCA can save online service providers time, hassle, and especially money. While there is a $6 USD fee for registering an agent with the US Copyright Office, this is substantially less than any potential settlement amount, damages, or legal fees that may have to be paid if a claim of infringement is brought against an online service provider.

If you are an online service provider, all you need to designate an agent for DMCA purposes is to complete these two steps: (1) pay the $6 USD fee to the US Copyright Office and provide certain contact information for the agent to the Office, and (2) make the same contact information for the agent available to the public on your website. If you follow these two steps to register an agent and follow subsequent steps if your agent receives a claim of copyright infringement due to user material posted on your website, you can be protected from liability for the infringement and save your valuable time and money.

If you have further questions about registering a DMCA designated agent, you can visit the websites provided below or reach out to a BrownWinick attorney. 

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