A DMCA agent acts as the contact point to receive DMCA takedown complaints on behalf of a website or app. Agents are registered with an online directory, which is often a confusing subject for many online business owners. Let’s put an end to the confusion.
The DMCA provides online operators with immunity from copyright infringement claims associated with content uploaded by users to the platforms of the online operator. In plain English, this means a copyright owner cannot sue the website for copyright infringement for something uploaded by a member of the site. YouTube is a real-world example. The company cannot be sued by copyright holders if a member of the site uploads a video containing infringing content such as a song from a popular artist.
In exchange for this immunity, an online operator must assist the complaining copyright holder with the removal of the content and identification of the person posting the content. To do this, the online operator must designate an agent to receive communications on the matter – a person better known as the DMCA agent. This agent must be identified on the site, but also in an online directory maintained by the Copyright Office. If you have an attorney, sometimes they will act as the agent but most advise against attorneys acting as DMCA agents because of conflict of interest concerns.
The United States Copyright Office is a department of the Library of Congress. The Copyright Office processes all copyright filings for the federal government. As part of this responsibility, the Copyright Office is responsible for maintaining an online database of all the individuals designated as DMCA agents by online operators.
An online operator seeking the immunity protections of the DMCA must register its agent with this directory. Failing to take such a step waives the immunity as you can read about in this case.
As of December 2016, the registration process costs $6. The turn around time for a filing is one to three days. Keep in mind you must renew the agent designation every three years.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the DMCA agent directory or need the services of a third party agent.