Oct 032011

I blogged recently about a few hoops that service providers have to jump through to be entitled to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbor from being sued for copyright material their users post.  One of those requirements was that the service provider had to name an agent to receive DMCA takedown requests and tell the Copyright Office who that was.

That was 1998, and the Copyright Office then put out some interim regulations about how to tell them about the agent.  Basically, you put the required information on a piece of paper (the Copyright office provides a sample form, but there’s no requirement to use it), attach a check for $105, and mail it to them.  The Copyright Office then scans all the paper and posts them on its website. It’s a bit low-tech for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but it works.

Now, 13 years later, the Copyright Office is finally getting around to thinking about the final regulations and they’re asking for comments. They are proposing an electronic system to replace the paper-based system, and requiring people who registered in paper under the old rules to re-file through the new electronic system.  That, combined with a new requirement that companies renew their registrations every two years, will help deal with one current problem the Copyright Office has: the directory contains hundreds of registrations for defunct services.

The changes have been needed for a long time. Luckily, it seems that the Copyright Office has gotten it substantially right.  The proposed system should be faster, more reliable and much easier to use, both for service providers and for content owners.

Concerns? The Copyright Office is requesting that comments be submitted electronically at their website.  All comments have to be in by November 28 and will be posted on the Copyright Office’s website.  Following that, replies to the first set of comments will be accepted until December 27.