I think you will agree with me when I say the most annoying aspect of the DMCA agent requirement is the registration process used by the United States Copyright Office. Despite allowing online submissions for other copyright filings, the Office requires businesses to send in DMCA agent registrations by snail mail. To make matters worse, a single clerk is tasked with reviewing and manually entering the agent information from each registration form into the online database of DMCA agents. The result is a processing time that currently takes a few months and has been as long as a year in the past.
Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for the Copyright Office to register your agent when you are ready to launch a new site or app. Well, I have good news…
Online DMCA Agent Registration
The Copyright Office has long talked about creating an online DMCA agent registration system. The Office even issued a proposal in September of 2011. Unfortunately, the likelihood of the system actually being put in place since then has been roughly the same likelihood of you or I winning the lottery – not great.
The problem? Witness “Green” failed to appear, to wit, no money.
Miracle of miracles, the Copyright Office has come up with the financial resources to complete the system in 2016 and, well, I’ll let the Office explain:
“Following the 2011 NPRM, the Library of Congress commenced the software development effort. Although it appeared at that time that the Library would be able to commit the necessary resources to complete development of the system without significant delay, as it turned out, the Library was unable to supply the requisite resources until fairly recently. With the new electronic system now nearing completion, the Office seeks public comment on proposed fees to use it.”[Federal Statement]
An online filing system should significantly speed up the agent registration process. No longer will your registration packets need to go through the mail security checks in Washington D.C., that can take a week. No longer will the sole clerk who handles these filings be forced to scan each registration form and then enter the business and agent information provided in each form line by line into the online database.
My God, the Copyright Office may well be entering the 21st century when it comes to DMCA compliance issues. It is enough to make you tear up. Ah, but it gets better.
DMCA Agent Registration Fees
The current DMCA agent registration fee is $140 for up to 10 online properties. This figure has long seemed a tad bit high and arbitrary. The Copyright Office has always taken the position the fee reflects the cost of running the agent registration program. Most of us in the copyright industry have raised an eyebrow in doubt over such claims.
Let’s hear it for the eyebrow raisers!
The Copyright Office is now proposing the registration fee drop with the launch of the new online filing system.
While the new system will no doubt be more efficient, a drop from $140 to $6 suggests the old fee might be just a tad bit inflated as many of us suspected. Regardless, we shouldn’t look the clichéd gift horse in the clichéd mouth.
The Copyright Office is now taking comments on the proposed reduction in fees. You can get instructions on commenting here. One assumes nobody will complain about the price reduction.
A New Age
The creation of an online DMCA agent registration system with significantly reduced fees will go down as a great moment in human history. Okay, probably not, but the new approach is certainly a boon to those Internet service providers sick of the slow registration times and those of us who work in the industry. For this reason alone, one is tempted to pop a cork and consume an adult beverage or three.
When will the new system be online? Nobody knows, but it appears there is a realistic hope the launch date will be before the end of 2016.