Is a Designated Agent to accept Copyright Infringement Necessary for my site?

March 28, 2016

Intellectual-property

Most companies that start a website do not think about the potential liability issues that come with starting a website. There is lots of potential for both trademark and copyright infringement on websites, especially when there will be user posted content on the website. In order to avoid these issues or at least limit liability, a company launching a website should designate an agent for claimed copyright infringement, along with a strong Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

According to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), a designated agent for an Online Service Provider (“OSP”), can help limit liability for copyright infringement. An OSP is a company that hosts or transmits information through a website, most websites that will be hosting their own site or allow users to post on their site will need to designate an agent.

An OSP shall not be liable for money damages if the OSP acts quickly to remove or disable access to the claimed infringing material. Copyright Act § 512 (c)(1).  However, the OSP is only excused from money damages if they have a designated agent to receive notices of claimed infringement. Copyright Act § 512 (c)(2). If there is no agent listed, the OSP will be liable for money damages that may arise from infringement occurring under their watch.

Thus, if you are small business that will be launching, hosting or allowing users to post on your website, you will need to register your designated agent. The registration of a designated agent can be done through the Copyright Office. There is a form and corresponding filing fee associated with the registration. There will also be an additional filing fee if you are hosting or creating multiple websites. The Copyright Office keeps a list of all companies that filed for or listed a designated agent to accept claimed copyright infringement, if you happen to notice your works being infringed on a website.

If you are business owner that plans on launching a website and would like to discuss this topic in more detail, we at Trademark Shark are here to help. Call for a free consultation to discuss any issues you may have with one of our intellectual property attorneys. We work with start up and small businesses in an effort to help them protect their IP, so allow us hunt down the best protection for your company.

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