The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) provides safe harbors from copyright infringement liability for certain kinds of online service providers — for example, websites that allow users to post or store material on their systems. If a provider is in compliance with the statute, it will be shielded from liability for infringing materials posted by third parties on their site.
If you own a website – and particularly one which allows others to post through message boards or other methods, you have until December 31, 2017 to register or re-register your takedown agent in the Copyright office directory, or your safe harbor status will lapse on January 1, 2018.
Copyright infringement is a serious matter – a court may find infringers liable for statutory damages (without the need to prove any actual harm) up to $150,000 per infringed work. Registering an agent and ensuring that your website is in compliance with the DMCA is very inexpensive insurance against such liability.