Limiting Liability through a DMCA Agent
Reading opinions submitted in the comment section of a digital newspaper article makes for a richer and more interactive experience compared to a traditional printed publication. Sure, a printed newspaper might include an opinion section, but even if the opinions were submitted the day before, they’re stale compared to the real-time content in a digital version. But how do owners of online platforms (like digital newspapers) protect themselves from copyright infringement lawsuits when they can’t continuously monitor the uploaded content on their site? The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) lays out a process that gives website owners immunity from copyright infringement lawsuits if certain compliance measures are taken.
The DMCA Explained
The DMCA is a U.S. copyright law that, among other things, seeks to control access to copyrighted works on the internet. In particular, the DMCA gives website owners a “safe harbor” from copyright infringement liability in the event a user posts content that infringes on a protected work. Examples of copyright infringement include the unauthorized posting of copyrighted photographs, song lyrics, audio files, and even software code. Website owners can protect themselves from copyright infringement lawsuits by registering and designating a DMCA agent with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration is relatively simple and costs just $6. A DMCA agent is the sole person who is designated to receive copyright infringement complaints, or “takedown notices,” on the company’s behalf. Takedown notices come from authors or owners (or their attorneys) of copyrighted works once they’re alerted to the unauthorized use of the work. After receiving a takedown notice, the DMCA agent is responsible for ensuring the infringing material is taken off the websites immediately. Disregarding notices can result in lawsuits and potentially costly damages.
Because the designated DMCA agent’s contact information becomes public once it is registered with the Copyright Office, some companies opt to designate a third party as their agent. Benefits of designating a third party as the DMCA agent include retaining anonymity, avoiding spam and telemarketing phone calls, and reducing the risk of protestors (or fans!) of your website showing up on your doorstep. Companies also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with entrusting this responsibility with a reliable person who understands the legal significance of acting on notices and maintaining compliance with the U.S. Copyright Office. That’s where we come in. Contact us to discuss how we can help limit your company’s exposure to liability from unauthorized uploaded content on your platform.
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