The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects webmasters and website owners from liability for copyright violations on their sites when materials are uploaded by users. In order to receive such immunity, site owners must meet several requirements, including having a take down procedure upon receipt of notice of a violation. But one easily overlooked requirement to take advantage of the safe harbor is the requirement to register with the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. [Hat tip to entertainment attorney Gordon Firemark for an excellent reminder about this feature.]

The registration required is called the “Interim Designation of Agent to Receive Notification of Claimed Infringement.” In essence, a website owner must have a public filing that tells the public where they can provide notice of any copyright violations by users on the website. The Copyright Office then maintains a public directory available online. The form is short, and the filing fee begins at $105.

Any self hosted blog or other website that allows for comments by users, or other user contributions, should take efforts to take advantage of the safe harbor. Note that if your blog is hosted on or another similar site, it is likely protected by that site’s safe harbors provided the site operators have taken the proper steps. Here, especially because the filing fee is not exorbitant, it is better to be safe than sorry. A little insurance to avoid defending an copyright claim could go a long way – and potentially save a lot of money and hassle.

To designate an agent with the Copyright Office, complete this form and return it to the Copyright Office with the appropriate fees:

As noted frequently here on the IPelton® blog, I aim to practice what I preach. Last week I submitted a designation to the Copyright Office: 

Designation of DMCA Agent – Erik M Pelton & Associates, PLLC

  For more information from the Copyright Office on this topic, see: 

 All original content is © 2011 Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC. All Rights Reserved.

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