Taking a few small steps to set up your company's Digital Millennium Copyright Act agent can provide significant protection against copyright claims.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, more commonly known as the "DMCA," is a federal law written to streamline the process of addressing online copyright infringement. The law provides protection to a variety of online platforms that allow user-generated content. Obtaining the protection outlined in this law must be done through a number of compliance steps, one of which is designating and registering a DMCA agent.

A DMCA agent – formally referred to by the Copyright Office as the "Agent to Receive Notifications of Claimed Infringement" – is the public contact for receipt of copyright infringement allegations. Recording a designated agent with the Copyright Office and providing that agent's information to the public, such as posting it on your website, is a prerequisite for legal safe harbors under the DMCA. These safe harbors can shield a company from copyright liability in certain circumstances. Any company that provides an online service, including a website, may need to avail itself of the safe harbor, and thus should have a designated DMCA agent. It is recommended that clients record a DMCA agent and place the required agent contact information on their website to protect the company from certain types of liability should it ever become the target of a copyright claim.

Once recorded, the DMCA agent must be renewed with the Copyright Office every three years.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.