Damn Good Reminder: If You Run A Blog, Register For DMCA Protections

from the don't-forget,-yo dept

Righthaven famously started suing lots of websites earlier this year for having some materials from the Las Vegas Review-Journal posted on their sites. In some cases, the content was posted by the owner of the sites in question, but in many cases, it involved content posted in forums or comments by users. Now, as you know, the DMCA creates safe harbors for sites where users post content — but it’s only if you’ve designated an official DMCA agent with the Copyright Office. After more and more Righthaven cases started showing up, we noticed a pattern. In talking with some of the sites that were sued, as well as some of the lawyers trying to fight Righthaven, it became apparent (quickly) that Righthaven was clearly avoiding sites that had a registered DMCA agent, and basically was relying on the fact that many websites were ignorant of the need to register. So, back in September, we noted, as a bit of a public service announcement, that if you ran any kind of site that allows for public participation, you should register with the copyright office. Seriously. Do it now.

A bunch of folks have sent over a Wired article highlighting the same thing and urging people to go register. While we’ve already made the same point, it’s such an important point, that we’re going to repeat it again, and urge you to register again.

Oh, and in an amusing bit of irony, in the Righthaven lawsuit that the EFF got involved in, one of the points it noted was that the Las Vegas Review-Journal itself appeared to have not designated a DMCA agent, meaning that while it (via Righthaven) was suing sites for forgetting this basic step, it was leaving itself open to the same sort of issue with its open forum. Of course, since then it appears that this has been corrected, but it looks like Stephens Media only registered in August of this year… So it does seem a bit ironic that the company relying so heavily on people forgetting to designate DMCA agents apparently did the same itself.

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Companies: righthaven

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Comments on “Damn Good Reminder: If You Run A Blog, Register For DMCA Protections”

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20 Comments
Rick says:

Re: Americans only?

You don’t have to do anything. US law does not apply to you – only your hosting provider. They will contact you if there is an issue. Besides, your ISP (ie: blog or server provider) is the only one required to register an DMCA agent.

Mike is also incorrect, the law does not require bloggers to do register and pay the $105 fee – UNLESS they are also their own ISP. If you run or own your own server – you may need to register, but the casual blogger using blogger.com or anything provided by a third party is already covered by the third parties DMCA agent (their hosting provider).

From the copyright office: “Definition: For purposes of section 512(c), a “service provider” is defined as a provider of online services or network access, or the operator of facilities therefor, including an entity offering the transmission, routing, or providing of connections for digital online communications, between or among points specified by a user, of material of the user’s choosing, without modification to the content of the material as sent or received.”

Requiring a blogger to ‘register’ would be a violation of the First Amendment – specifically: Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. Charging you to blog in any way is illegal.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Americans only?

Requiring a blogger to ‘register’ would be a violation of the First Amendment – specifically: Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. Charging you to blog in any way is illegal.

I’m sure the government would get around that by pointing out that you can blog to your heart’s content for free. You just don’t get the safe harbor protections unless you pay up. Even that is ridiculous though, why should you have to register to be protected from incorrect assignment of liability? It makes no sense.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Common Sense

Common sense says that people should not have to register to protect themselves from anything other people do. Why are the laws designed so horribly? Whatever happened to personal responsibility because lots of corps seem to not respect that at all and only go after whoever is closest to them. There should be massive smackdowns from the courts for this junk but noooo, somehow its part of our law to be dumb and illogical.

Evan (profile) says:

Just if you host a blog yourself

I think “run” a blog is a bit misleading here. It’s the “service provider” who gets the safe harbor under Section 512(c)(2), and that’s defined as “a provider of online services or network access, or the operator of facilities therefor” in 512(k)(1)(B). It seems like a long stretch to imagine that encompassing blog admins.

Joe says:

This is a bit of a dated thread, but wanted to comment with some corrections in any event –

There is a lot of misinformation in these comments.

The registration requirement was created in order to give copyright holders an easy way to find the person responsible to receive notifications of infringement.

A blogger is not “covered” by your ISP’s DMCA registration. The ISP is protected by the registration, not the blogger.

A blogger who posts infringing info isn’t helped by the registration process anyway.

Where you would be “covered” is if a commentor to your blog posted infringing information. Then, instead of you being found liable for that infringement you would be entitled to protection under the safe harbor provision in the DMCA.

The other instance in which you would like to register and be protected is if you run a forum – basically any situation in which a third party can post content to your site. If the content is copyrighted and posted without permission, you are protected by the safe harbor and as long as you comply with the takedown notice, you won’t be liable.

Of course, in practical terms, even if you posted yourself and a potential plaintiff sees that you are registered, they may send a takedown notice and move on, knowing that a judge will likely ask why they didn’t take this simple step before litigating – but that’s not the black letter law.

Joe Agliozzo says:

Misinformation

This is a bit of a dated thread, but wanted to comment with some corrections in any event –

There is a lot of misinformation in these comments.

The registration requirement was created in order to give copyright holders an easy way to find the person responsible to receive notifications of infringement.

A blogger is not “covered” by your ISP’s DMCA registration. The ISP is protected by the registration, not the blogger.

A blogger who posts infringing info isn’t helped by the registration process anyway.

Where you would be “covered” is if a commentor to your blog posted infringing information. Then, instead of you being found liable for that infringement you would be entitled to protection under the safe harbor provision in the DMCA.

The other instance in which you would like to register and be protected is if you run a forum – basically any situation in which a third party can post content to your site. If the content is copyrighted and posted without permission, you are protected by the safe harbor and as long as you comply with the takedown notice, you won’t be liable.

Of course, in practical terms, even if you posted yourself and a potential plaintiff sees that you are registered, they may send a takedown notice and move on, knowing that a judge will likely ask why they didn’t take this simple step before litigating – but that’s not the black letter law.

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