Columns Copyright Office Mangles DMCA Service Provider Agent Directory

  1. Has anyone recently perused the Search Provider Agent Directory at the U.S. Copyright Office website for a DMCA / copyright infringement agent other than myself? You should because you might not be able to find your company listed. Browsing through the alphabetized entries would seem elementary but I still could not find TheLaw.com. It doesn't appear to the naked eye yet it is there - but you'll never find it without help. This is because someone at the Library of Congress thought that changing company names and trademarks for the sake of grammatical folly was a good idea.

    The DMCA Safe Harbor and Registered Agents


    I'm the founder of TheLaw.com and several other companies that begin with the definite article "the", e.g. The Law Network. I advised several clients with large user generated content ("UGC") websites to register a DMCA agent with the U.S. Copyright Office pursuant to Section 512(c) of the Copyright Act. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's the person who is officially designated to accept DMCA takedown notices for claims of copyright infringement. Registration costs only $105 and is a prerequisite to being welcomed into the DMCA safe harbor, which provides immunity from civil copyright lawsuits as an online service provider.

    US-Copyright-Office-DMCA-Agents-Directory.png

    Did anyone proofread the text above the directory entries?
    I spent 10 minutes searching the alphabetized list for several entries such as our website (TheLaw.com), a company name (The Law Network, LLC) and the website for our leading legal app for the iPhone and Android OS (TheLawDictionary). None of these entries appeared to be listed. After deciding that I was still coherent thanks to the two cups of Peet's coffee (Major Dickason's Blend) that I had in the morning, I decided to make a telephone call to the Library of Congress to understand why they had removed all of agent listings.

    Finding a DMCA Agent is Certain Confusion


    So are we Law.com or Law.com?

    After making the call, I was surprised to find navigation to the people in charge of the directory quite easy and expeditious. So far so good. After asking the above question, I was informed that someone within the U.S. Copyright Office had instructed employees to strip the definite article "the" from the beginning of every listed service provider agent. The logic behind this decision was that it made more sense to file "The Beatles" under the letter "B" than it did to use the full name as spelled by the band. I was going to ask her how the band "The The" might be listed but I didn't want to cause anyone's head to explode. The employee agreed with me that stripping the definite article might make it difficult to find companies that actually use it in their company or trade name, such as we do. But this was the mandate from above and it is what now appears on the U.S. Copyright Office's website. I was also told that the list was being alphabetized manually since they did not have the skills and resources to use a computer system to perform this task with greater efficiency. You can imagine my reaction.

    US-Copyright-Office-DMCA-Agent-Directory-Entries.png
    So with this newfound knowledge, I took another look at the Service Provider Agents List on the U.S. Copyright Office website. And there it was - our company was identified as "Law.com" - a company which some of you may recognize, especially if you're an attorney. If you look at the list, it's obviously impossible to tell which Law.com entry is supposed to identify TheLaw.com and I'm not even sure why anyone would even think of looking there for our company name.

    I wonder whether the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is aware of this innovation. Likelihood of confusion? More like absolute certainty.
    Legal Practice:
    IP - Copyright Infringement
    Jurisdiction:
    • US Federal

    Michael M. Wechsler

    Michael M. Wechsler
    Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of TheLaw.com and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at Zedge.net and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.

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