Can websites and blogs be liable for copyright infringement?  It depends.  If the blog owner is copying other creators’ content verbatim (in whole or in part), depending on the facts at hand (perhaps there is a “fair use” defense), such copying would generally open the blog writer up to liability for copyright infringement.  This can hold true even if the content is posted by other users of the website or blog.

Protect your blog and website from copyright infringement lawsuits.  Someone found guilty of willful infringement can be liable for statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement as well as attorneys’ fees and legal costs.

However, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, online services providers, blogs and websites can be shielded from copyright liability for other users’ posted content, if, among other things, the online service provider / website (1) has designated an agent to receive notifications of claimed infringement (also known as “takedown” notices) by registering contact information with the Copyright Office and by posting such information on the service provider’s website in a location accessible to the public and (2) promptly remove infringing material at the request of a the lawful copyright holder.  These are known as safe-harbor provisions.  See §512(c) of the Copyright Act.

Once a website receives a compliant notification of claimed infringement, it must expeditiously try to remove, or disable access to, the allegedly infringing material, in order for the service provider to receive the benefits of the safe harbor provisions.  A website is not required by law to remove the allegedly infringing material — but note that by receiving such notice, and not removing the claimed infringing material, the website may be secondarily liability (contributory infringement) for continuing to host the allegedly infringing material.

If you are an online service provider, host a blog, or run a website that allows users to post content, you should register a DMCA agent by completing a DCMA agent form and sending the completed form along with $105 to Copyright RRP, Box 71537, Washington, D.C., 20024.  If additional, alternative names are filed with the Copyright Office, each group of 10 alternative names (or fewer) adds an additional fee (currently $30), to the $105 basic filing fee.

Once registered, the website is then listed on the Copyright Office’s Directory of Service Provider Agents for Notification of Claims of Infringement so that in the event of an infringement, you’ve made it easy for the legitimate copyright holder to find the online service provider and know where to send a takedown notice.

If you have any questions about filing an agent registration or if you have questions about possibly infringing content or have received a takedown notice, you should contact an Internet Attorney.