I’m asking the Internets to clarify the law here.
Call it ingenious, call it evil or call it a little of both: Copyright troll Righthaven is exploiting a loophole in intellectual property law, suing websites that might have avoided any trace of civil liability had they spent a mere $105.
That’s the fee for a blog or other website to register a DMCA takedown agent with the U.S. Copyright Office, an obscure bureaucratic prerequisite to enjoying a legal “safe harbor” from copyright lawsuits over third-party posts, such as reader comments.
Basically, the article claims that if you allow user comments on your blog or the ability for users to upload content (pics, vids, etc), you can be sued for copyright infringement. Now the law says that you can claim you were not responsible for people’s comments and uploaded content, which is easy to prove. But in order to do that, you have to designate an agent to handle the two-way communication. So you can continue as business as usual for registering your blog via the form and $105.
Here’s my two questions:
- Doesn’t Safe Harbor apply to Internet Service Providers or Web Hosts? See ChillingEffects and Copyright.gov and Keytlaw.com. They all seem to refer to ISPs, not clients who rent space online to make our websites. DMCA requests go through service providers anyway, so why do wittle websites have to register? Are we “operators” who are also liable?
- What about people who don’t host their own websites, like Blogger and WordPress.com? Do they also have to register?
I’m a savvy guy who actually checks Snopes or Google whenever I get a forward. But I’m not finding clarity on this. Any help?
Are people going to come after you? Doubtful. Keep breathing easy, we’re all small-time and not mega-scrapers who violate copyright every second of the day. But the question came up and I couldn’t answer it.