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17 May 2017
It is not much of an exaggeration to say that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998 makes the Internet as we know it possible. The DMCA created a safe harbor that protects online service providers from copyright suits so long as the follow the DMCA rules.
One of the rules is that the provider has to register with the Copyright Office, to designate an agent to whom copyright complaints can be sent. The original process was rather klunky, send in a paper form that they scan into their database, along with a check. This year there is a new online systems, and as of December they will no longer provide the old paper database. So if you are a provider (run web servers, for example) and want to take advantage of the safe harbor, you have to register or re-register.
Fortunately, the process is pretty simple. You visit the new DMCA site at https://dmca.copyright.gov/, click Registration Account Login at the upper right, then the "register here" link on the login page. Then you set up an account with yourself as a primary contact, and if you want, a secondary contact. It sends a confirmation message to the e-mail you provide, and once you click the link you have an account. Then you log in and add a service provider, which will generally be you or your company, and a designated agent, which will generally also be you. Then you add all the names by which someone might look for your company, which can include your business name, any other names your business uses, and all the domain names you use. There is as far as I can tell no limit to the number of alternate names, so be comprehensive. Then you pay $6 by credit card, and you're done. If you later want to make changes, such as adding new alternate names, that's another $6 so take a few minutes and think of them all before pushing the pay button.
After three years they will send you a reminder to renew, which will cost another $6. When the Copyright Office set up the new process, there was a certain amount of grousing that the old registrations were allegedly permanent while the new registrations have to be renewed every three years. While there is some merit to this complaint, it must be noted that the old registrations cost $140 while the new ones are $6, so if your business lasts for less than 70 years, the new scheme is cheaper.
For six bucks, it's cheap insurance against even unlikely copyright suits.
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