Service Provider Designation of Agent to Receive Notifications of Claimed Infringement
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) provides safe harbors from copyright infringement liability for online service providers. In order to qualify for safe harbor protection, certain kinds of service providers—for example, those that allow users to post or store material on their systems, and search engines, directories, and other information location tools— must designate an agent to receive notifications of claimed copyright infringement. To designate an agent, a service provider must do two things: (1) make certain contact information for the agent available to the public on its website; and (2) provide the same information to the Copyright Office, which maintains a centralized online directory of designated agent contact information for public use. The service provider must also ensure that this information is up to date. firstname.lastname@example.org
In December 2016, the Office introduced an online registration system and electronically generated directory to replace the Office’s old paper-based system and directory. Accordingly, the Office no longer accepts paper designations. To designate an agent, a service provider must register with and use the Office’s online system.
Notifications of Claimed Infringement
When a copyright owner’s work is being infringed on or through a service provider’s service, the copyright owner may send a notification of claimed infringement (often referred to as a “take down notice”) to the service provider’s designated agent. For take down notices to be legally effective, they must be provided to a service provider’s designated agent in writing and include substantially the following:
A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site.
Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.
Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted.
A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A). Upon receipt of a compliant take down notice, a service provider must respond expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of the infringing activity. If a service provider fails to do so, it may lose its safe harbor protection and be subject to an infringement suit.