DMCA registration costs drop from $105 to $6

  • $6 for three years of protection against lawsuits from US creators — for any grid, anywhere in the world
  • helps protect against take-downs by hosting companies and domain registrars
  • helps keep creators from going to social media and blogs to get attention for problems

The US Copyright office has made it easier and much, much cheaper for content-sharing platforms — like social media sites and OpenSim grids — to protect themselves from lawsuits by people in the United States.

Previously, it cost $105 and people had to submit a PDF or mail in a form.

In December, it became a simple online process and the fee is just $6 for three years. Start here to register your DMCA Designed Agent. You can pay with a debit or credit card, or with a checking account.

There is no requirement that anyone register. But if they do register, and comply with take-down requests, then they get “safe harbor” protection from lawsuits.

Most other countries have similar laws in the books, typically without a registration requirement, with almost identical provisions for handling take-down requests. Complying with the US DMCA rules will generally put a company in compliance with similar “safe harbor” protections elsewhere.

Having good take-down procedures in place with also protect grids from the biggest copyright-related threat facing them: take down requests to their hosting companies and domain registrars. And, also, public shaming on social media sites and blogs when content creators can’t get a response from grid owners and take their issues public.

It is true that if you’re a small grid, content creators won’t bother to sue you because it’s just not worth the money. However, they will file a take-down request with your hosting company and registration provider. I do this all time, to sites located all around the world, and the sites go down. Usually, the very next day.

Yes, foreign grids can register — and should

I just checked out the form, and yes, you can put a foreign address for both your company and your designated agent. The agent is the person who is responsible for processing the take-down requests.

However, international companies often hire a US-based agent when they file a DMCA registration, according to California-based Internet law attorney Richard Chapo.

“The primary reason for this is international companies need a local resource to both act as the agent and be knowledgeable in handling copyright claims processed under the law of the United States,” he wrote. “Can you have a foreign DMCA agent? Yes, but it is not advised given the low cost of using an independent agent. There are services such as this one offering agents for $5 a month.”

Smaller companies who have fewer — and simpler — take-down requests, or handle everything online, can use an agent based overseas.

The “Report product” option is in the Description section of all Kitely Market products.

For example, the registered agent information for Israel-based Kitely Ltd. is here.

Kitely also has an easy-to-use content take down form and even a button on every Kitely Market listing that makes it easy for any user to report infringing content.

Ilan Tochner

“It was a very straightforward procedure both before and after the change but the newer online system was a lot less time consuming than the previous one,” Kitely CEO Ilan Tocher told Hypergrid Business. “There is absolutely no excuse for an international company that hosts user generated content not to do this.”

He added that there were no requirements for Kitely to have an office or an other kind of official or legal presence in the United States.

“Many US-based copyright holders assume DMCA is universally applied and file DMCA take-down notices when they find their IP on unauthorized sites,” he said. “International companies that don’t respond as US companies would open the door to easily avoidable complications.”

Why register?

Nobody is required to register with the DMCA. Even US companies don’t have to do it. The DMCA law is not like a law against speeding, or beating someone with a baseball bat.

The DMCA is there to protect companies against lawsuits by American content creators. If you have content from US creators on your grid, or US creators think that their content is on your grid, they can sue — unless you register with the DMCA and follow their take-down requirements.

You might think that your grid isn’t big enough for creators to go after. Law suits cost a lot of money, especially if the offender is in a foreign country.

You’re right. But they don’t have to file a law suit to put your company out of business. They can simply file a take-down request with your hosting company or domain registrar.

In order for hosting companies to maintain their own “safe harbor” against lawsuits, they must themselves comply with take-down requests. Even tiny ones. Because if they ignore the small take-down requests from OpenSim shoe designers, then they lose their protection against all lawsuits, including those from deep-pocketed Hollywood movie studios.

The folks who make a living from copyright infringement and other illegal activities look for “bullet-proof” hosting providers. These are companies that use a variety of small data centers in multiple countries, and move sites around quickly when one of these centers is taken down. Those providers that are particularly successful get targeted by international law enforcement authorities working together across jurisdictions. Their primary goal is to prosecute money launderers, cybercriminals and ransomware extortionists, but the folks doing minor copyright infringement also get swept up in the take-downs.

In any case, is disregard for the law any basis under which a company wants to operate? Commercial grids who need to attract content creators and merchants and rent-paying residents to be successful won’t go far with that kind of attitude.

I am not a lawyer, so do not take this as legal advice. But I did cover international copyright law when I was based in China, and have been covering cybersecurity for CSO and other technology publications for more than 15 years.

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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

24 Responses

  1.' Da Hayward says:

    Really good follow up to the recent articles. Well done Maria!

  2.' Carlos Loff says:

    Great article, great news and (December) great Mr. Obama

  3.' hack13 says:

    Zetamex Network still will not register with DMCA, there have been many cases where DMCA has also been abused and would provide issues with how we handle much of user’s data under German Law. The handling of legal matters of copyright is different in Germany, and Zetamex Network is fully ready to comply with take down requests if a user submits one. If needed it can be escalated to the courts of Germany, as we follow take legal matters seriously.

    Reasons for not doing this are deeply rooted in wanting protect user privacy and content under the Laws of the EU and Germany which are far more developed and fit more in line with digital age content then the DMCA which is out dated and can be abused.

    •' mikelorrey says:

      Users who violate terms of service agreements (by violating DRM permissions) have abrogated their contracts with your service, so you are under no further legal obligation to shield their identities. The primary weakness with DMCA is that it doesn’t mandate that violators have their identities disclosed, but does mandate that those filing takedown requests identify themselves to the offenders, which enables offenders to engage in harassment campaigns in the real world, which have happened. Refusal to register with the DMCA only increases your grids liability if you fail to honor take down requests which are later proven valid.

      •' hack13 says:

        We understand this, and we accept those risks and thus why we registered the way we have, why we have a special procedures. But as part of the DMCA, not registering protect our users under the copyright law of the EU and Germany is different then that of the USA. Registering with DMCA loops us in with the requirement of handling take down requests in the USA manner.

        The address is listed on the site as well as multiple contact numbers. Our registration and VAT ID numbers are listed as well.

        •' mikelorrey says:

          It does not require that you handle all takedown requests in the US manner, only those which involve Americans. Failing to do so exposes you to liability to international lawsuit via the Hague Conventions on Due Process..
          Furthermore, since you have registered your company with a *.com domain, you have already agreed to be subject to US law. If you want to avoid that, you need to surrender the dot com domain and go with a german TLD. This gives US regulators standing to have your entire network taken down through WIPO action.

          •' hack13 says:

            This is what the CEO of Zetamex Network has elected to do. I have urged him to reconsider. But he seems to stand quite firm on this matter.

          • why not bring zetamex back to the US and under your control again tim?

          •' hack13 says:

            Because I trust Vincent, plus laws are better. And he is reviewing the DMCA under legal advice. Zetamex Network truthfully has grown and matured so much it’s legal status and back end have been changing so much to comply with stricter laws and IT standers.

          •' mikelorrey says:

            Is Zetamex the grid that Maria isn’t naming that is refusing to honor takedown requests about all the stolen OARs?

          •' hack13 says:

            Absolutely not! We actually worked with VirTec on this issue directly and removed these OARs from user’s accounts and user’s OAR archives. Giving the user’s warnings if repeated pirate activity is caused we will terminate the account.

            contact[at]zetamex[dot]com if you have any copyright claim, we take these seriously and are happy to work with the content creator and legal if needed.

          •' Virtec Support says:

            I can confirm that this is NOT zetamex – I have been working with Vincent Sylvester in that particular case. And Tim even came forward to me when he heard about that and told me that they will immediately take down anything I find on their servers.

          •' mikelorrey says:

            Too bad for Zetamex’s customers then. I predict your grid will soon follow avination as soon as a significant creator finds enough of their content pirated on your grid. I will also be asking to refuse to deliver to any grid that is not DMCA registered.

          •' Birch Wind says:

            I don’t think that shutting off deliveries to non DMCA registered grids will do anything to encourage new people to come in. All it ends up doing is punishing the residents of a grid. It’s not up to Kitely to enforce that choice on other grids, regardless of how practical it may seem. Instead it ends up limiting the market availability

          •' XMIR Grid says:

            According to Kitely’s terms:

            “The Terms and the relationship between you and Company shall be governed by the laws of the State of Israel without regard to its conflict of law provisions. You and Company agree to submit to the personal and exclusive jurisdiction of the courts located within Tel Aviv, Israel.”

            DMCA does not exist in Israeli legislation, as it is a US only law. Hence any conflict resolution around DMCA and Kitely’s application of it can’t even be tested in the courts in the country they operate out of.

          •' Ilan Tochner says:

            Hi XMIR,

            Kitely’s TOS also state “The Company respects the intellectual property rights of others. Company’s policy is to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the United States’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) and/or other all applicable laws, including, but not limited to, the Israeli Copyright Law, 5767-2007, and to terminating the accounts of repeat infringers.”

          •' XMIR Grid says:

            I understand that. The question is what your jurisdiction for conflict resolution will admit to be processed by the courts. Usually counts don’t accept other country’s legislation for their proceedings. In reality you will be limited to the Israeli Copyright Law, 5767-2007 and similar provisions in Israeli law.

          •' Minethereé says:

            Welcome back Birch-)

          • damn girl welcome back 😀 we miss you.

          •' mikelorrey says:

            If people are not actually PAYING the actual CREATORS for a product, they aren’t actually participating in any market. For a market to exist, you have to have a non-zero price attached, and for it to be legal, that price has to have some contractual relationship to the actual creator. Piracy destroys markets, because it raises the cost of protection of property that escalates the cost of doing business, while undermining the value of legitimately sold goods due to the availability of counterfeit product.

          • “If people are not actually PAYING the actual CREATORS for a product, they aren’t actually participating in any market.” — what does that have to do with wanting to limit Kitely’s reach to non DMCA registered grids? Are you saying that the merchants themselves are not the ACTUAL creators? If my partner (a creator of original, painstakingly created mesh items) sells to a non DMCA registered grid — I don’t quite understand how that hurts him, Or Kitely OR the market. Almost every botted item I see in OpenSim is from SL and not from a Kitely merchant. And if someone did see something on the market that they felt smelled of copyright infringement, they could report it. So how does your desire to not allow Kitely merchants the ability to sell to non DMCA registered grids have anything to do with ‘relationship to the actual creator’? How does it undermine the value of ‘legitimately sold goods’ ?

          •' mikelorrey says:

            I never said I don’t want Kitely merchants to have the ability to sell to nonDMCA registered grids, but nice try at spinning and distorting things. I said I want Kitely merchants to have the ability to decide for themselves which grids to not allow sales to. Try reading what people are actually saying rather than imposing your own biases and assumptions on things.

  4.' Alex Ferraris says:

    I have registered AviWorlds and Avi-Labs. Thanks Maria this is nice to have …

  5.' mikelorrey says:

    As the President of SLexit, which operates the Opensim Embassy in the Larsen region of SL, in order to educate SL users about opensim and assist them in any migrations of avatars or their own content they may undertake, the primary problem we find with our mission, and building broader public usage of Opensim, is the popular perception that Opensim is nothing but a nest of copybotters. This is why many creators won’t sell here (no matter how easy it may be to steal their stuff in SL), and because they won’t sell here, many SL users won’t come because their favorite content isn’t for sale here, creating a chicken or egg catch 22 situation that is grossly inhibiting the growth of Opensim. (I don’t need to mention how LL is encouraging this misperception).
    For this reason, it is imperative that all opensim grids take aggressive stances against content piracy of any kind. I have heard from many with excuses that “anything can be stolen”. That is immaterial. Anything can be stolen in the real world too. Locks and keys only keep honest people honest, and document the criminal intent of actual criminals when they do break and enter and steal. Just because a DRM is weak doesn’t justify violating the rights of creators. Just because you don’t like IP doesn’t give you the right to violate the rights of creators to their work. If you care about Opensim, you all need to protect the rights of creators to define the terms under which they release their content. If a creator wants to open source their own work, FANTASTIC! What nice generous people! But forcibly “opensourcing” someone elses work through piracy is not actually in keeping with the open source ethic of Opensim. If you think otherwise, YOU are the problem. Every grid should register with DMCA to handle takedown requests by American creators, and via reciprocity via the Hague Conventions, should treat the content creators of their own and other nations under their own appropriate laws.