In its ongoing effort to keep us on our toes, the Library of Congress has changed the rules governing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In short, if you’re already signed up to take advantage of the DMCA safe harbor, you must re-designate your agent online by the end of 2016.
Without the DMCA, service providers would face possible copyright liability for infringing material posted at their sites by customers or other users. The DMCA’s “safe harbor” lets service providers avoid that liability, if they jump through various hoops. Those hoops include complicated procedures related to copyright claims notices (the “notice and take down” procedures), along with designation of an agent to receive copyright notices. The service provider designates that agent with the Library of Congress (the nation’s copyright custodian) — and they’ve changed the rules.
Originally, you designated your agent on a paper form. (Why did they ever use paper for system all about the Internet?) But on December 1, 2016, the Library of Congress will launch an online designation system, and they’ll stop accepting the paper form. Service providers will then have until the end of 2016 to re-designate agents originally designed on paper. If you don’t, you risk losing safe harbor protection.
In other words, the Library of Congress is dodging the work required to transfer the old paper-based agent list — which they’d merely scanned and posted online — to a real electronic list. It’s your job! Presumably, the new system will go up promptly on December 1, and the Library of Congress will announce it here.
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