If you have a website that allows users to post content, it is vitally important that you take steps to comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA.
Passed in 1998, the DMCA includes protections for owners of websites that have user generated content. Legislators recognized the benefit of allowing users to post content on the web, and sought to balance that benefit with the chilling effect of holding website owners liable for copyright infringement by those users.
However, to gain the protection provided by the DMCA, website owners have to take a few, relatively simple steps:
- Register an agent with the United States Copyright Office
- List contact information for an agent on the website
- Comply with proper DMCA Takedown Notices
- Have a policy to terminate repeat infringers, and inform users of the policy
Failure to comply with these provisions of the DMCA can result in the website being held liable for infringing material posted by its users, resulting in damages of up to $150,000 per instance of infringement.