A DMCA agent acts as the contact point to receive DMCA takedown complaints on behalf of a website or app. Companies register their agents in an online directory maintained by the Copyright Office. The registration process is often confusing for many online business owners. Let’s put an end to the confusion.
What is the DMCA? The DMCA provides online operators with immunity from copyright infringement claims associated with content uploaded by users. 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. Assume I make a video. I include a Taylor Swift song. I upload the video to my YouTube account. While I can be sued for infringement, the DMCA protects YouTube.
Yes, there is a catch with this immunity. An online business must follow a compliance process. Part of the compliance process involves designating an agent to receive copyright complaints. You must identify the agent both on the protected site and in an online directly 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 tasked with 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 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.