When you launch an online property such as a website or app, you need to take a few technical steps to obtain the benefits of particular laws created to help you get established and grow such as the DMCA. One such step is to hire a DMCA agent.
If you are wondering do I need a DMCA agent – read on. If you already know the answer and would like to learn about our DMCA agent service, skip to the bottom of the article.
DMCA Safe Harbor
The Internet technically originated in early 1983. Of course, that version of the web was very primitive. If you didn’t know command lines, you were not partaking of the fun since the first Windows wouldn’t even launch until November 20, 1985. The only people using the Internet at the beginning were academics, the military, and full-blown nerds. We use the term nerds lovingly since we fit snuggly in the definition.
But lo’. The times did a’ change! In the middle of the 1990s, the powers that be realized this Internet-thingy might become a massive commercial platform where companies could sell books, real estate, and, of course, sexual enhancement pills to people who could spend all day complaining about things. Ah, utopia.
Regardless, in creating the Internet, our lord and savior Al Gore issued forth new proclamations designed to help the new users stay out of trouble. These proclamations came in the form of “laws.” One, of course, was the DMCA.
The “Digital Millennium Copyright Act” was signed into law by President Clinton in October 1998. If you wish to cure your insomnia, you can read the DMCA text. If you want to avoid a coma-like existence, what you need to know is the Section 512 DMCA safe harbor code says a website or app can’t be held liable for copyright infringement for material uploaded by a user. Example time!
You run a blog. Visitors leave comments on your posts. A visitor posts a comment with an image or a cartoon. They copied the cartoon from another website.
Has the visitor committed copyright infringement? Probably.
Can the copyright owner sue the visitor for copyright infringement? Yes.
Can the copyright owner sue you – the blogger – for infringement? Nope. You are DMCA protected.
Is there a catch to this fantastic DMCA safe harbor immunity? Oh, come on. You know there is always a catch.
Who Needs A DMCA Agent?
The catch? You must follow a compliance process detailed in the DMCA text. Part of the required steps includes – you guessed it – designating an agent.
Why did the drafters of the law include this step? Well, think about the situation for a minute. Let’s say you spend a week drafting a 3,000 word authoritative, evergreen blog post – the mother of all blog posts. Then someone copies it and republishes it on their website.
Under the DMCA, you can address the problem by submitting a DMCA notice to their hosting company. Ah, but where do you send the complaint? The Agent’s role is to be the public face of the company and receive DMCA takedown notices on behalf of the company.
Hire DMCA Agent
What are the DMCA designated agent requirements? Well, you might be surprised to learn anyone can be the Agent – you, us, a friend. Most online businesses hire a DMCA agent service such as ours. Why? A couple of reasons that mostly boil down to privacy.
- The Agent’s name, address, phone number, and email address must be published on each of your sites or apps.
- The Agent’s information is also published in a Copyright Office DMCA designated agent directory viewable by anyone online.
At a minimum, you are going to receive a load of spam and endless sales calls if you act as the Agent. In a more grim scenario, a “fan” or “critic” could visit your home with all that implies. Not good.
Our DMCA Agent Service
We charge $70 a year to act as your DMCA agent. When a copyright owner wishes to file a complaint, they’ll see our information. When a “fan,” “stalker,” or that innocent looking chap with the hockey mask and machete try to find your home address, they’ll see ours. [Don’t worry about us. We have a moat around our office filled with genetically-modified goldfish that are voracious and vicious.]