The DMCA offers a strong web of protection to web hosts and secures when infringement of copyright takes place on their servers. If the web host or service provider completely meets all the requirements and takes few simple steps then it is free from all the financial liabilities related to the infringement committed by his users. Before 1998, when the DMCA had not yet passed, web hosts had no other option than to operate in the fog of legal uncertainty. This used to be a huge topic for debate- whether hosts should be sued for infringement or not? But, when Congress passed this Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998, it gave web hosts a great relief, and acted as a necessary element for the survival of their business.
While DMCA is great news for web hosts, it is also beneficial for the average person. With the passage of time, the web has become more interactive and every second person now has a website or blog and acts as an online service provider within the meaning of the DMCA. This has resulted in the need to appoint a DMCA agent not just for the traditional hosting companies but for bloggers and anyone who operates a website that permits third party content. It has become much crucial to protect yourself against the actions of your readers and copyright holders. Why you need a DMCA Agent? When you allow and accept third-party generated content you don’t know what you will be getting and what is potentially infringing and what is not. When you allow the third-party to post any content/comment/photograph/ video or anything, you have no idea whether it is the property of the user who uploaded it or it is merely copied from somewhere else. This leaves you helpless. You cannot do anything to stop the infringement other than setting the policies against uploading the copyrighted content. This is where you need a DMCA agent. The DMCA’s safe harbor protection dramatically lowers your legal risk and protects you from liability for infringement perpetrated by third parties on your site. How to designate a DMCA Agent?
Once you have made up your mind, designating a DMCA Agent requires only a few simple steps to be taken: You need to fill a form and mail it to the U.S. Copyright Office (“USCO”) along with the necessary filing fees. Later on, the USCO will process the application, scan it and will upload it to their directory of agents (this may take even months sometimes). Your process is finished. Conclusion The larger the site you host, the more prone you are to copyright infringements. The more user-generated content you host, the more serious you should be towards these lawsuits. While other legal requirements apply before you can claim safe harbor defenses, designating a DMCA agent is an important first step in the process. It is always wise to spend some money and time right now in guarding yourself, rather than falling prey to larger headaches and expenses later on.