Copyright Limited Liability

Online Service Providers' Limitation on Liability
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 [pdf file] includes provisions for a limitation of liability for Online Service Providers (OSPs). In order to qualify for the limitation on copyright liability, OSPs must comply with requirements set out in the new Act.


  1. The OSP must designate a person to act as the OSP's agent. This agent will be responsible for receiving infringement notices and for notifying the users of the OSP's services who are infringing on copyright.

  2. The OSP must file information about its designated agent with the U.S. Copyright Office. The Copyright Office has issued Interim Regulations on how to file.

  3. The OSP must adopt a policy for termination of infringing users' services and must post the policy on its website. Posting on the website must also include agent information.  

  4. When notified of infringing uses by its users, an OSP must act to have the infringing material removed.

  5. The OSP must insure that its system does not interfere with technical measures taken by copyright owners to protect their works from copyright infringement (such as watermarks).

For detailed discussion of these requirements, see the Lutzker & Lutzker analysis prepared for the Association of Research Libraries.