Copyright Law

If You Have a Blog and Allow Comments, Register for DCMA Protections, Sites Warn

The emergence of Righthaven, a copyright troll that buys the rights to Las Vegas Review-Journal stories and then sues alleged infringers, has prompted a couple of blogs to remind bloggers of how they can protect themselves from suits like Righthaven’s.

The Digital Milennium Copyright Act gives websites immunity from civil copyright liability as long as they promptly remove infringing material at a rightsholder’s request, Wired’s Threat Level explains. But for a site to lock in this protection, it must register a DMCA takedown agent with the U.S. Copyright office. The registration is an “obscure bureaucratic prerequisite” that locks in the DMCA protection and involves filling out a form (PDF) and paying $105, Threat Level reports.

Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Threat Level that he doesn’t believe that any of the sites that Righthaven has sued had registered a DMCA agent.

Ben Sheffner, a senior counsel at NBC Universal and the author of Copyrights & Campaigns, told Threat Level that the need for a takedown agent was supported by a March ruling in the Northern District of California.

“The idea is you need to make it easy for copyright owners to locate who you send infringement notices to,” Sheffner told Threat Level. “They shouldn’t have to go hunting around.”

Techdirt made this warning in September, repeated it after the Threat Level post and also noted that “in an amusing bit of irony,” it appeared that Stephens Media, owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, didn’t itself register for DMCA protections until August 13 (PDF), even though it had already filed dozens of suits by then.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.