Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Protection Against Copyright Trolls

This comes from the Learn Something New Every Day Department. I was surfing the internet reading other attorney’s blogs and came across an article by David Kravets on wired.com:

The $105 fix that Could Protect You from Copyright Troll Lawsuits

I have known about patent trolls for years; they are people who exploit small similarities in inventions, or technical violations of the patent law for profit through litigation. Tbey serve no useful purpose to society. I never heard anything about copyright trolls. Apparently, there is a new cottage industry in acquiring copyrighted material, registering it, then suing websites that have reposted it. I am not talking about sites that promote or engage in copyright infringement, but rather sites that include user comments and interactions (such as blogs).

All of these sites are protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which, through its “takedown agent” provision, allows a safe harbor for those who repost user generated content (such as Facebook, YouTube, etc.). What I did not realize until I read this article, is that in order to qualify for this safe harbor protection, the site has to register its takedown agent with the Copyright Office. The fee for the service is $105.

As the article points out, the traditional defenses in copyright infringement, such as fair use, remain viable, but the appointment of the takedown agent is a virtual bar to a suit proceeding in the first place.

So, if you are running any kind of blog or website that accepts third party content, or if you intend to quote liberally from third parties on your blog, I suggest you investigate the registration provisions of the DMCA. It could be the best $105 you ever spent.

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