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Protect Your Forum With D.M.C.A Safe Harbor


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Protect Your Forum With D.M.C.A Safe Harbor

I post this once a year or when I see a proliferation of copyright lawsuits against web publishers - here's some novel (not legal) advice.

It seems that the safest way to protect your community from copyright law firms is to claim D.M.C.A Safe Harbor protection.  By registering your sites on Copyright.Gov you might save yourself a lot of headache and big $$ money from content posted on your site without the copyright holder's permission - if one of your users posts someone else's content on your site without their permission, you might be liable.   Safe Harbor was designed by congress to protect web publishers from such liability.

As I have been involved in several copyright / trademark lawsuits at the federal level, registering your site on Copyright.gov for $6.00 may provide a layer or protection for you and it's super easy to do.

1. Go to the DMCA page on Copyright.gov HERE and register an account/agent (you or whoever you designate to receive legal notices).  After you register an account, simply add all of your websites and pay the $6.00 fee.  Note that each time you add or edit your sites, a $6.00 fee will apply each time.  One important note is that ( 37 C.F.R. § 201.38) requires you to use a physical street address and not a P.O. Box.  I have found generally that once a law firm understands that you have Safe Harbor, they might not even bother you because there's nothing in it for them ($ damages).

2. Add a DMCA safe harbor statement on your website - this site is an excellent resource to help you frame it - please read it.

3. On your forum, in an easy to find place, create a page/post to your DMCA statement and create a menu link to it.

If you have any questions, I will try to assist.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 7/20/2020 at 2:34 PM, Unlucky said:

Does this apply to UK companies?

U.S. Courts have found E.U. sites liable when their server/hosting company is U.S. based.  They have also found them liable if the website's traffic has a significant U.S. user base.  

Edited by jackflash
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All OSP/ISPs who follow proper guidelines have this protection automatically given to them by OCILLA, which was included in the DMCA.  You don't need to pay anyone to handle this for you and you don't have to register anywhere or pay a fee for it either. 

Quote

Section 512(c) applies to OSPs that store infringing material. In addition to the two general requirements that OSPs comply with standard technical measures and remove repeat infringers, § 512(c) also requires that the OSP: 1) not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, 2) not be aware of the presence of infringing material or know any facts or circumstances that would make infringing material apparent, and 3) upon receiving notice from copyright owners or their agents, act expeditiously to remove the purported infringing material.

That's the official act wording, but to put it in a more general sense, you would be found liable only if any of the following are true:

  • you were proven aware of the infringing content and made no attempts to remedy it
  • you refused to remove and/or ban repeat offenders
  • you made a profit off the display/sale/distribution of the infringing content
  • the copyright owner sent a formal take-down request of the alleged infringing content and you failed to remove the content within a reasonable amount of time.

If there is a dispute between the copyright owner and the accused (a counterclaim was submitted against a take down request), they must settle it in court.  You would send the information to both parties and essentially wash your hands of the situation unless you're guilty of one of the things above.  All you need is a dedicated form or email address to handle copyright related requests and claims, and act appropriately and quickly whenever necessary.  It's simple to maintain and will work for you 99.99% of the time if you are running a clean site.  (Also make sure information about where and how to submit a request or claim on your website is easily accessible.)

Edited by ahc
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On 7/25/2020 at 10:18 PM, ahc said:

All OSP/ISPs who follow proper guidelines have this protection automatically given to them by OCILLA, which was included in the DMCA.  You don't need to pay anyone to handle this for you and you don't have to register anywhere or pay a fee for it either. 

That's the official act wording, but to put it in a more general sense, you would be found liable only if any of the following are true:

  • you were proven aware of the infringing content and made no attempts to remedy it
  • you refused to remove and/or ban repeat offenders
  • you made a profit off the display/sale/distribution of the infringing content
  • the copyright owner sent a formal take-down request of the alleged infringing content and you failed to remove the content within a reasonable amount of time.

If there is a dispute between the copyright owner and the accused (a counterclaim was submitted against a take down request), they must settle it in court.  You would send the information to both parties and essentially wash your hands of the situation unless you're guilty of one of the things above.  All you need is a dedicated form or email address to handle copyright related requests and claims, and act appropriately and quickly whenever necessary.  It's simple to maintain and will work for you 99.99% of the time if you are running a clean site.  (Also make sure information about where and how to submit a request or claim on your website is easily accessible.)

You need to read this more carefully because you've missed the key part -  the below provision (quoted in italic) is directly from the link in which you provided above and states:

512(c)(2)

(2) Designated agent.—The limitations on liability established in this subsection apply to a service provider only if the service provider has designated an agent to receive notifications of claimed infringement described in paragraph (3), by making available through its service, including on its website in a location accessible to the public, and by providing to the Copyright Office, substantially the following information:

(A) the name, address, phone number, and electronic mail address of the agent.

(B) other contact information which the Register of Copyrights may deem appropriate.

In other works, 512(c)(2) provides safe harbor IF you've taken the key step of registering with the U.S. Copyright Office.  If you have not registered your site with the U.S. Copyright Office to complete your DMCA Safe Harbor, your defense mechanism is useless and you have waived those rights.

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