If you allow users to post anything to your online platform, you should take advantage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. What is the DMCA? Online businesses that comply with the “DMCA” are given immunity from copyright infringement lawsuits based on content uploaded by users. A “get out of jail card” free? Oh, yes. Congress gave it the name “DMCA safe harbor” and you must register a DMCA agent with the Copyright Office to obtain the protection.
Registering a DMCA agent with the United States Copyright Office is one of the compliance steps required by the DMCA. Fail to take this step, and you lose the protection of the DMCA as seen in cases such as this one and this one. Don’t make this mistake! Seriously. You’ll be screwed.
A new day. On December 1, 2016, the Copyright Office joined the modern world by launching an online system for registering DMCA agents. The good news is the cost has dropped from $140 per 10 domains/apps to $6 for unlimited listings. The bad news is we are talking about a government agency, so the process is a bit much. With this in mind, let’s get to it.
Opening An Account
Step 1. The first step is to open a general account with the Copyright Office. Go here and provide the required information. Start with the country you are registering from, as it will change the amount of information that is required to be submitted.
Step 2. Once you’ve filled out the form, click submit, and you should receive an activation email message. Follow the activation instructions. Congrats, you now have a general account with the Copyright Office.
Registering An Agent
Step 2. Go to this page and login to your account with the Copyright Office.
Step 3. Click the “Add Service Provider” button. The button is on the right, near the bottom of the page. It’s blue.
Step 4. A form should appear. For your “Full Legal Name,” list the name of your business. This is the name you would typically list on your tax return. It is not your domain unless you use that for some reason. For example, Google would list “Google, Inc.” and not “Google.com.”
Step 5. Add your business address. Importantly, the address cannot be a PO Box or similar service. This must be the “real” address for your business where you receive legal documents and service. Fail to comply with this requirement, and you’ll likely lose the protection of the DMCA.
Step 6. Fill out the rest of the form. Make sure to use a phone number and email address where the Copyright Office can reach you with renewal and administrative notices. Don’t list an email address or phone number you never use. Click “Next.”
Step 7. Now it is time to enter domains and app names. Enter one at a time in the provided box and then click the plus sign. Fail to click the plus sign and the property will not be added. Also, add alternative names your properties may be known by. For Twitter, one would enter “Twitter” and “Twitter.com.” If you prefer to use a spreadsheet, you can do so using the tool to the right of the screen. Click “Next.”
Step 9. Review the summary of the registration, check the box, and check the “I attest” statement.
Step 10. Click “Submit and Proceed to Payment.”
Step 11. You should be asked if it is okay to leave the system to make payment. Go for it.
Step 12. You can now pay with a credit card or EFT. Credit card payments are processed in five minutes, meaning your listing goes live the same day. EFT payments can take three days. If you are in a rush, go with a credit card payment.
That’s it. 12 steps that you can follow to get your agent designation on file with the Copyright Office. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Trying to figure out how to renew your registration? Yeah, we got a video for DMCA agent renewals. Cause we’re cool kids. Cool DMCA kids. Yeah. Sigh.
Need a third party DMCA agent for your site or app? We’ll provide you that agent for just $70 a year. Take a look at our service.