The DMCA agent system can be a bit mystifying because, after all, we’re talking about rules issued by a government agency. To provide clarity on the subject, we thought long and hard about putting together a comprehensive FAQ page. Then we realized the Copyright Office has already published one. You can click here to read it or we’ve highlighted the key provisions below.
** If you intend to use us as your agent, you do not need to open an account with the Copyright Office. We’ll just add you to our master account.
Any service provider (within the meaning of 17 U.S.C. 512(k)(1)) seeking the safe harbor protections of section 512. Related or affiliated service providers that are separate legal entities (e.g., corporate parents and subsidiaries) are considered separate service providers, and each must have its own separate designation.
Any service provider that previously designated an agent with the Office via the old paper system had a year-long period that ended on December 31, 2017 to submit a new designation electronically through the online registration system. As of January 1, 2018, any designation not made through the online system has expired and is no longer valid. To be clear, the Office has not retroactively invalidated these designations. Rather, to the extent they were otherwise compliant, they remained valid and in effect until December 31, 2017.
Anyone the service provider authorizes to act on its behalf. This can be an employee of the service provider or a third party like a DMCA agent service or law firm. The online system is flexibly designed to allow multiple service provider designations to be managed through a single registration account. Meaning, for example, that a third party can manage several unrelated service providers through one account. Or, as another example, an employee of a parent company can manage the parent company’s designation as well as the designations of its subsidiaries through one account. Separate service provider and designated agent contact information can be provided for each individual service provider, even when managed through the same account. In some cases, a service provider may wish to change who manages its designation, and that new manager may not have access to the account through which the designation had been previously managed. In such cases, the designation can be transferred from the old manager’s account into the new manager’s account by making a written request to the Copyright Office. For information about transfers, see “Can I transfer a service provider designation from one system user account to another?” below.
Please view the video tutorial entitled “Designating an Agent for a Service Provider,” available at http://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/help.html, which provides step-by-step instructions.
Please view the video tutorial entitled “Creating a DMCA Designated Agent Registration Account,” available at http://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/help.html, which provides step-by-step instructions.
Please view the video tutorial entitled “Managing a Designation (Amendments and Termination),” available at http://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/help.html, which provides step-by-step instructions.
Please view the video tutorial entitled “Renewing a Designation,” available at http://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/help.html, which provides step-by-step instructions.
Please view the video tutorial entitled “Managing a Designation (Amendments and Termination),” available at http://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/help.html, which provides step-by-step instructions. Please note that terminating a designation will cancel it, leaving the service provider without an active designation in the Office’s directory.
Please view the video tutorial entitled “Managing an Account,” available at http://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/help.html, which provides step-by-step instructions.
Please view the video tutorial entitled “Managing an Account,” available at http://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/help.html, which provides step-by-step instructions. Please note that terminating a registration account will also terminate all service provider designations managed through the account. This will leave such service providers without active designations in the Office’s directory unless new designations are made through a different account.
The current fee is $6 per designation, amendment, or resubmission. There is no separate fee to renew per se because each time you amend or resubmit, and pay the $6 fee to do so, you are fulfilling the renewal requirement. There is no longer an additional fee for alternate names.
A service provider is required to supply its full legal name, physical street address (not a post office box), any alternate names used by the service provider, and the name, organization, physical mail address (street address or post office box), telephone number, and email address of its designated agent.
Alternate names are all names that the public would be likely to use to search for the service provider’s designated agent in the Copyright Office’s online directory of designated agents, including all names under which the service provider is doing business, website names and addresses (i.e., URLs), software application names, and other commonly used names. Separate legal entities are not considered alternate names. For website addresses, the Office considers providing the top level domain (e.g., copyright.gov) sufficient to comply with Office regulations. It is not necessary to list all subdomains (e.g., copyright.gov/dmca-directory, dmca.copyright.gov) operated by the same service provider.
Yes, but only with prior approval of the Copyright Office, which will only be given upon written request and in exceptional circumstances, such where there is a demonstrable threat to an individual’s personal safety or security, such that it may be dangerous to publicly publish a street address where such individual can be located. To obtain a waiver, the service provider must send a signed letter, addressed to the “U.S. Copyright Office, Office of the General Counsel” and sent to the address for time-sensitive requests set forth in 37 C.F.R. 201.1(c)(1), containing the following information: (1) the name of the service provider; (2) the post office box address that the service provider wishes to use; (3) a detailed statement providing the reasons supporting the request, with explanation of the specific threat(s) to an individual’s personal safety or security; and (4) an email address for any responsive correspondence from the Office. There is no fee associated with making this request. If the request is approved, the service provider may display the post office box address on its website and will receive instructions from the Office as to how to complete the Office’s electronic registration process. Please note that this only applies to a service provider’s address. A waiver is not necessary to provide a post office box for a designated agent’s address.
The first name, last name, telephone number, and email address of a representative of the service provider who will serve as the primary point of contact for communications with the Office, and a telephone number and email address for the service provider. Information for a secondary point of contact may be provided as well. While optional, the Copyright Office strongly recommends providing information for a secondary contact as a backup to best ensure that important communications from the Office reach the appropriate person. The primary and secondary contacts are attached to the registration account, as opposed to the service provider’s designation. This means that these individuals are the primary and secondary contacts for all service providers managed by a single account. This is in contrast to the service provider and designated agent contact information which is specific to each service provider and which may be different from the primary and secondary contacts’ information.
No. While the Office recommends that the contact information given for the primary contact, secondary contact (if provided), service provider, and designated agent all be different so as to ensure that important notices and reminders sent by the Office promptly reach the correct individuals, it is not required. The only requirement is that if information for a secondary contact is provided, it must be different from the primary contact’s information. For example, the same person can act as both the primary contact and designated agent. Or, if the service provider is run by a single person who will be managing the service provider’s account and acting as its designated agent, then it would be okay for the contact information for the primary contact, service provider, and designated agent to all be the same.
Yes. In some cases, a service provider may wish to change who manages its designation, and that new manager may not have access to the account through which the designation had been previously managed. In such cases, the designation can be transferred from the old manager’s account into the new manager’s account by making a written request to the Copyright Office. To request a transfer, the service provider must send an email to the Office at firstname.lastname@example.org containing (1) the name and registration number of the service provider, (2) the old manager’s account login ID, and (3) the new manager’s account login ID. The Office will only effect a transfer if asked to do so by the service provider. Requests from an account holder or designated agent (where not also the service provider) will be rejected. When a designation is transferred it disappears from the list of service providers in the old manager’s account and instead shows up in the list of service providers in the new manager’s account. This action does not affect the designation’s legal effectiveness or its status or listing in the Office’s public directory.
A service provider’s designation will expire and become invalid three years after it is registered with the Office, unless the service provider renews such designation by either amending it to correct or update all relevant information or resubmitting it without amendment to confirm the designation’s continued accuracy. Either amending or resubmitting a designation through the online system begins a new three-year period before such designation must be renewed, from the date of renewal. For example, if a service provider registers a new designation on January 1, 2017, and thereafter makes no amendment to that designation, it must renew the designation (by amending or resubmitting it) prior to January 1, 2020. But if that service provider instead amends its initial designation on March 1, 2019 to update it with new information, the three-year renewal clock is reset, and March 1, 2022 becomes the date prior to which the service provider must renew the designation. If the service provider then resubmits its designation without amendment on February 25, 2022 to satisfy the renewal requirement, then the three-year clock is reset again, and February 25, 2025 becomes the next date prior to which the service provider must renew again.
Yes. To help ensure that no service provider accidentally forgets to renew its designation, the online system will automatically email reminders to the primary and secondary contacts, service provider, and designated agent at 90 days, 60 days, 30 days, and 1 week prior to each service provider’s renewal deadline.
An amendment is when a change is made to update a designation. A resubmission is when a designation is refiled with the Office without amendment in order to confirm its continued accuracy. A renewal occurs whenever an amendment or resubmission is made.
The Office has found the old paper-generated directory to contain significant inaccuracies and outdated information. Although service providers are required to update their designations with the Office as information changes, an examination of a large sample of designations found that 22% were for defunct service providers, while approximately 65% of non-defunct service providers’ designations had inaccurate information (when compared to the information provided by service providers on their own websites). The renewal requirement will help ensure that the directory stays up to date, and additionally will assist service providers in retaining their safe harbor protections by reminding them to keep their information current.
Service providers risk losing the safe harbor protections of section 512 of the DMCA, leaving them potentially vulnerable to certain types of claims of copyright infringement.
Yes. Although all designations in the old paper-generated directory have expired and are no longer valid, the Office is still hosting them online as a matter of historical record. The old directory is no longer, and is not a part of, the “current directory of agents” maintained by the Office pursuant to section 512(c)(2). The old directory can be accessed here.
And there you have it. Let us know if you have any questions.
Rick Chapo – The Prez.