Music Business

Major Labels File Billion Dollar Piracy Suit vs Cox

Gavel-clipart-gavel_bwThe three major labels, Sony, Universal, and Warner Music, have hit telecommunications company Cox and its ISP service with a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement in the latest challenge to the implementation of the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. 

The suit, brought in a federal court in Virginia, alleges that Cox “has knowingly contributed to, and reaped substantial profits from, massive copyright infringement committed by thousands of its subscribers.”

The plaintiffs allege in their suit that Cox is not effectively policing their subscribers who are violating copyrights, even when those alleged violators are brought to their attention by rights holders.

Per the lawsuit:

“Cox deliberately refused to take reasonable measures to curb its customers from using its Internet services to infringe on others’ copyrights—even once Cox became aware of particular customers engaging in specific, repeated acts of infringement. Plaintiffs’ representatives (as well as others) sent hundreds of thousands of statutory infringement notices to Cox, under penalty of perjury, advising Cox of its subscribers’ blatant and systematic use of Cox’s Internet service to illegally download, copy, and distribute Plaintiffs’ copyrighted music through BitTorrent and other online file-sharing services.”

The lawsuit takes issue with a provision of the DMCA, a law passed in 1998 that creates a safe harbor for online service providers such as Cox against copyright infringement liability, provided that they have an effective plan in place to deal with infringers.

The lawsuit cites a previous suit brought against Cox by a group of labels led by BMG. In that case, BMG Rights Mgmt. LLC v. Cox Communications, Inc. and CoxCom, LLC, BMG made substantially similar accusations against Cox, claiming that the company did little to deter rampant copyright infringement taking place via its service.

In 2015, a jury agreed with BMG Et Al. and awarded them a $25 million dollar judgment in that case. The judgment was later overturned on appeal, but the appeals court largely sided with the label’s challenge to Cox’s implementation of the DCMA rules.

In the current case of Sony Music Et Al., the plaintiffs are seeking statutory damages of up to $150,000 per each work infringed, and while the lawsuit doesn’t cite how many instances there were, it cites “thousands” of examples.  Sources put the total at more than 10,000/

A rep for Cox was not available for comment.


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