Are you familiar with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”)? If you operate a website for your real estate business – whether as a brokerage or as an agent – you are at risk of claims of copyright infringement from third parties for any and all content on your website. What does this mean? Any content on your website, whether created by you using third party data or images or content reproduced by you (i.e. MLS data offered to consumers through an IDX feed), can subject you to claims of copyright infringement from third parties.
If all the conditions of the United States Copyright Office’s DMCA are satisfied, Section 512 of the Act limits the monetary liability of online “Service Providers” (as such term is defined in the Act) who are recipients of claims by third parties alleging copyright infringement.
Although a complete summary of the provisions of the DMCA and the so-called “safe harbor” provided to online “Service Providers” under Section 512 of the Act are beyond the scope of this article, broker/owners and agents will likely benefit from a review of the impact of the DMCA on their business with legal counsel or other advisers who are familiar with copyright issues and the internet.
In late Fall 2015, MLSPIN named President and CEO Kathleen Condon as the “Designated Agent” not only for the service itself, but also of each of its Users. However, certain amendments to the Act (the “2016 Regulations”) establish a new deadline of December 31, 2017 for “service providers” to file on-line the name of a Designated Agent who will receive notices from third parties that allege material on a particular website infringes upon the claimant’s copyright.
In an effort to satisfy elements of the 2016 Regulations that require each “service provider” to have its own Designated Agent, MLSPIN recently notified its Users that it would electronically register its Designated Agent only for itself under the DMCA (as amended). The effect of this change is that following the electronic registration by MLSPIN, Kathleen Condon will no longer serve as the Designated Agent for your brokerage or for any of MLSPIN’s other brokerage firm Participants.
REALTORS® who are “service providers” are encouraged to discuss with their own attorney what measures they need to take to comply with the new electronic registration requirements for Designated Agents under the 2016 regulations. As stated before, there is a deadline of December 31, 2017 for all electronic registrations, therefore immediate attention may be required.
A video from the National Association of REALTORS® on “Changes to the DMCA Safe Harbor” is available here
and may help you to gain a greater understanding of your role in maintaining compliance under the safe-harbor provisions of the DMCA. A full text of the DMCA is available from the US Copyright Office website: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html#512.