Get thee to the Copyright Office: take steps now to preserve your DMCA safe harbor protection

The U.S. Copyright Office announced yesterday its new online registration system for designated agents. Online service providers designate agents to receive notifications of claimed copyright infringement. As of December 1, 2016, the Copyright Office no longer accepts paper applications for agent designation. Service providers who previously designated agents in the existing directory have until December 31, 2017 to register in the new online directory.

Online service providers, including websites and online platforms that allow users to store material on their systems, risk liability for direct or contributory copyright infringement from third party materials posted by users without permission.  Since users often do not understand or care about copyright law, an unwary service provider (who often appears to have deeper pockets) may have a rude awakening when it finds itself the sole defendant in a copyright litigation over unauthorized photos or other user generated content posted on its website by a user.

Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to balance the rights of copyright owners with the needs of online service providers in the face of rapidly developing technology. The DMCA provides a safe harbor from copyright infringement liability in 17 U.S.C. 512 for qualifying service providers who agree to remove copyright infringing content and eject infringing users from their platforms. The DMCA safe harbor protects burgeoning technology such as streaming music platforms.  In order to qualify for DMCA safe harbor protection, a service provider must have an appropriate copyright policy in its terms of use, designate an agent to receive notifications of claimed copyright infringement, register the designated agent with the Copyright Office, and understand and comply with the DMCA notice and take down procedures.

Evil MegaUpload is Down, so too ProtectIP and SOPA?

Rupert Murdock TweetRupert Murdock’s tweets do not seem to have convinced Google or anyone else in the tech community to support SOPA and/or ProtectIP.  Last night however, FBI agents working with New Zealand authorities claim to have “shutdown” Megaupload.com. Despite cyberattacks by Anonymous that briefly took down the DOJ, MPAA, RIAA and Universal Music Group websites last night, megaupload.com still can’t resolve to a website today.   If the SOPA Blackout didn’t work to stop SOPA, USA-NZ team work appears to have clinched the win for the Internet. Representative Lamar Smith delayed vote on SOPA last night and Senator Harry Reid just announced that he would delaying consideration of ProtectIP.

Would you Support SOPA to Help the Ravens target Chinese Companies selling Counterfeit NFL Merchandise?

Baltimore Sun technology guru Gus  Sentementes reports that the NFL Ravens are pushing to shut down websites in China selling knock-off Ravens gear as the team prepares to face and hopefully shut down Houston in the play-offs this weekend. Sentementes’ article mentions that the NFL supports SOPA (the House bill to stop online piracy).  This time it’s not a foreign website illegally streaming NFL games… (more…)

Google/Facebook/Twitter Blackout to protest SOPA?

Does anyone care what actual consumers want anymore?  The Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) would allow large entertainment and media companies to have ISPs block “foreign” websites that host or display allegedly copyright-infringing materials.  The technology community claims that SOPA, if made law, will end the Internet as we now know it. To illustrate their point,  Wikipedia, Google, Facebook and Twitter are considering a coordinated shutdown of their websites… (more…)

Maryland Lawyers for the Arts meets with Paraguayan Journalists about IPR at Ober|Kaler

MLA meets Paraguayan Journalists

What’s IPR you ask?  Intellectual property rights. The U.S. Department of State once again asked lawyers from MLA to meet with a delegation of journalists and media lawyers from Paraguay. The Paraguayans are interested in how lawyers in the United States assist artists and record labels in halting piracy and counterfeiting. While the U.S. music business fights file sharing piracy online, the RIAA and MPAA might be interested in knowing that in Paraguay, counterfeit DVDs and compact disks of copyright-protected works from the U.S. are an enormous problem. It’s such big business selling counterfeit,… (more…)