Copyright Office Gratuitously Kills the DMCA Safe Harbor For Thousands of Websites

7 02 2017

This story has been like watching a train wreck in slow motion. In 2011 (yes, over 5 years ago), the Copyright Office announced that it was going to transition the designation of DMCA safe harbor agents from paper to electronic. The current paper-based system has been archaic since the beginning, so creating an electronic database is long overdue.

However, the transition raised the question of what would happen to the legacy registrations. Obviously the Copyright Office could scan them and feed them into the new electronic database, but that would cost some money (the Final Rule complains about the cost but doesn’t provide a number). Plus, the Copyright Office said that its initial interim rules indicated that reregistration would be required. So the Copyright Office proposed requiring all existing registrants to reregister or THEY WILL LOSE THE DMCA SAFE HARBOR.

If that isn’t troubling enough, the Copyright Office also proposed to require all registrants to re-register every 2 years–again at the peril of losing the DMCA Safe Harbor if the sites fail to do so.


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