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Startups should be aware that a new online registration system for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) debuted last December from the U.S. Copyright Office. Companies will note several changes and a date for the expiration of the original paper system.
The DMCA allows website publishers the opportunity to protect themselves against claims of copyright infringement from user material stored or posted on their websites. The law states that a startup can designate a “take-down agent” for receipt of “take-down notices” at the U.S. Copyright Office.
Changes from the Old System
The U.S. Copyright Office’s old paper-based registration system required website publishers to complete, sign, and mail a hard-copy document to the Register of Copyrights, along with a check for $140.00. The Copyright Office would then scan a copy and publish the document on its website. This “old school” system had some major flaws, which are resolved in the new e-filing system. That said, the new system has a couple of its own quirks that startups should consider.
The most meaningful change is the requirement of filing only in electronic format. Another change is that the new system includes a searchable database of agents which eliminates the tedious and slow mail-and-copy limitations of the old system. This makes registration and updates more convenient and expedient, and the renewal requirement helps ensure that the directory remains up-to-date,
December 31st Deadline
Companies should create an account and re-register before the end of the year. Website publishers can create an online account to file and manage their DMCA registration.
Those startups who are website publishers currently registered in the old system must re-register using the new system before December 31, 2017. If they don’t, they risk losing their protection under the DMCA when the old system is shut down.
Along with the online-only registration requirement, the new system has a considerable reduction in the cost of registration.
The cost per transaction (including re-registration, amendment, or renewal) is only $6.00, compared with $140.00 under the old system. However, the new system requires website publishers renew their registration and pay a fee with the Copyright Office every three years.
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that amendments to registration reset the three-year clock for renewal, but that failing to renew may mean the loss of protection under the DMCA. The new system also posts renewal deadlines, so copyright owners can monitor renewals.
Your startup should consider copyright protection as part of your intellectual property strategy and get set for the December deadline with the DMCA. Speak with an experienced intellectual property legal professional as you work to build your startup to discuss the types of intellectual property protection you may need.
Attorney Michael Ahmadshahi focuses on patents, copyright, and trade secrets in Irvine, California. The Ahmadshahi Law Offices are also located in Beverly Hills and Sherman Oaks. Call us at (949) 260-4997 or email [email protected] and let us help you with your intellectual property questions and the IP strategy for your startup.