DMCA Designated Agent Refiling: Make a Good-Faith Effort on “Alternate Names”

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(January 26, 2017 – Jarret Cummings) Late last year, my colleague, Jennifer Ortega, and I wrote about the U.S. Copyright Office’s release of final regulations on its Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) designated agent registration procedures. With these new regulations, the Office is seeking to better align the processes for gathering and disseminating designated agent information with the structure and capabilities of its new online DMCA designated agent directory. (For more information, please see:

One area of possible concern we noted in the post stemmed from the expansion of the “alternate names” provision. The discussion of the provision in the notice indicates that institutions should include in their designated agent filings “any names that the service provider would expect members of the public to be likely to use to search the directory for the service provider’s designated agent” (emphasis added). (Federal Register, Vol. 81, No. 211, p. 75700.)

From our perspective, the text implies a good-faith standard for compliance, such that a provider’s designated agent filing would not be compromised by inadvertent oversights or gaps in the listing of “all names under which the service provider is doing business, Web site names and addresses (i.e., URLs, such as ‘’ or ‘’), software application names, and other commonly used names.” (Ibid.) We would argue that under the guidance the Office gave with the rule and the text of the rule itself, providers are required to make a reasonable effort to include all relevant information and to correct any gaps that may become apparent from public use of the directory. Registering a designated agent with as complete of a set of information as the provider expects that the public would likely need to identify its agent, however, should be sufficient to meet the rule’s requirements.

The Copyright Office has since responded to our inquiry about this interpretation of the provision by confirming that it “generally agrees” with our reading of the regulation. This should help EDUCAUSE members approach the required re-registration of their DMCA designated agents by December 2017 with less anxiety about possible errors in their “alternate names” information. And the new online directory system’s ability to accept such information in the form of an uploaded Excel spreadsheet should simplify the process of providing it. Still, members should consult with their institutional legal counsel as part of refiling their designated agent registration to double-check the reasonableness and completeness of the information they are providing.

Jarret Cummings is director of policy and government relations at EDUCAUSE.